Easily the most unexpected new Rolex release from Watches & Wonders Geneva this year is the GMT-Master II reference 126720VTNR. The fact that Rolex created a new green and black addition to its iconic pilot’s watch collection isn’t all that surprising, but I don’t think anyone imagined that it would be one with a left-handed “destro” configuration. The new Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR is among the most discussed new releases from the entire show, yet it also has left a lot of people scratching their heads and trying to make sense of the new model.
So what’s different about the new Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR and more importantly, how does it fit into the rest of the brand’s catalog?
What’s New About the Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR?
For the most part, the new Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR is largely the same as the other current-production stainless steel models. The case measures 40mm in diameter and features a sapphire crystal and a bidirectional bezel fitted with a split-color ceramic insert. Additionally, the new model is powered by the same Caliber 3285 movement and is even available with the option of either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet.
With that in mind, there are a couple of key differences between the new Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR and the rest of its stainless steel siblings. The most obvious difference is that the new model features a green and black bezel insert paired with a green GMT hand. However, unlike the older reference 116710LN from 2007, which also features a green GMT hand, the new reference 126720VTNR has a dial with all-white text, rather than having its ‘GMT-Master II’ name printed in matching green letters.
Arguably the most unusual thing about the new Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR is that it features its winding crown on the left side of its case, along with having its date display positioned at 9 o’clock rather than the usual 3 o’clock location. Although a left-handed configuration does require a slight re-working of the calendar mechanism, the movement inside the new ref. 126720VTNR is the exact same Cal. 3285 that can be found inside the rest of the current GMT-Master II range, meaning that the new left-handed model will be functionally identical to its siblings.
Left-Handed Rolex Watches
Calling the new Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR “left-handed” is a bit of a misnomer since most watches are actually intended to be worn on the left wrist, with their crowns operated by the user’s right hand. Watches with their crowns on the left side, are often referred to as "destro" watches (meaning "right" in Italian), as this configuration was originally intended to be worn on the right wrist and cater to left-handed individuals.
While the new GMT-Master II reference 126720VTNR is the only left-handed watch currently in Rolex’s catalog, it is by no means the only left-handed watch that Rolex has produced throughout its history. If you look back through Rolex’s archives, you will find a few different watches with crowns located on the left side of their cases, including a handful of examples within the Submariner, Cellini, and GMT-Master collections, along with a few other special-order commissioned pieces. All things considered, while there is a historical precedent for destro Rolex watches, it does seem rather strange for Rolex to make a watch for lefties and offer it in a new colorway that isn’t available for any other models.
A Left-Handed Watch for Right-Handed People
Left-handed people only make up approximately 10% of the population, and while a watch with the winding crown positioned on the left side of the case will certainly appeal most to left-handed people, there are also reasons why a right-handed person would want to own a destro watch.
You will find a number of left-sided crowns on purpose-built tool watches that are intended to be worn on the left wrist, since this configuration places the winding crown out of the way and minimizes the possibility of damage. Additionally, with the winding crown removed from the wrist’s path of articulation, there is zero chance of getting any “crown dig” from the winding crown getting pressed into the back of your hand while bending your wrist.
At the end of the day, I’m definitely not left-handed, but the Rolex GMT-Master II 126720VTNR is the one watch that I contacted my retailer about getting the morning that it was announced. Green is my favorite color, but the real reason that I’m drawn to the new reference 126720VTNR is simply because it’s a bit different and unexpected. People often criticize Rolex for being predictable and playing it safe, but the new GMT-Master II 126720VTNR is proof that Rolex is still very much capable of surprising us, while still remaining incredibly true to its highly consistent and celebrated design language.
*All images courtesy of Rolex.