In 2018 Rolex discontinued the GMT Master II LN (the all black version). I remember very clearly the watch originally being released in 2007, because it was my first Rolex. At the time I purchased, with a business partner, a matching set of them. Sadly, a year later we had to sell them due to our business revolving around the real estate market, which fell apart in 2009. Even with this negative memory, I still loved the watch and had fond memories of it.
Back in late 2017, I had the opportunity to purchase the watch brand new again from a Rolex Authorized Dealer, and decided to get it. It is my most worn Rolex to this date. One particular memory that made it better was that only a few months later Rolex announced at the 2018 Baselworld that the watch would not be in the collection anymore. I was present at Baselworld, wearing that particular watch, thinking to myself how it was not a good idea to end this variant. But they did replace the 116710LN (and BLNR) with the Jubilee Pepsi GMT Master II (reference: 126710) which are both awesome watches. Rolex pretty much broke the internet with that move, so it is hard to judge them negatively.
Four years later the secondhand market on all Rolex watches has gotten out of control, and an all Black GMT Master II, commands $15,000-22,000. That is between 1.8x to almost 3x its original MSRP. Rolex knows this and has been making some super smart moves (last year they brought back the Oyster Bracelet on the GMT lines! Thanks Rolex for this BTW!!!)
Maybe, just maybe, this year Rolex breaks out that green shafted GMT hand and all those black ceramic bezels that we have all been missing. Let’s review why this may happen. First, Rolex repeats its successes, over and over and over again. They seem to recognize when something was a success in the past and resurrect it from the dead. A great example is the BLNR, the black and blue bezel GMT beauty that fell off the map back in 2018. It was brought back to life in 2019. A year after its demise the king rose again, but this time with a Jubilee bracelet. Another example of Rolex repeating a super successful watch is when they brought back the all green bezel, black dial on the Submariner. This design nicknamed the Kermit has gained a huge following years after it was discontinued for the green ceramic bezel, sunburst dialed Submariner. Rolex in their wisdom realized this and made it a reality in 2020 with the release of the 41mm Submariner.
Another reason why it makes sense to bring back the LN version, is that Rolex made this variation in the aluminum version for two decades. They made it on the 16700, and the 16710 GMT Master collections. This is part of their history, and Rolex uses its history as its guiding light for its current design. This use of design DNA is common in luxury brands. Look at Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Omega, Ferrari, etc., they always use their past designs as their direction for the next model or product. Rolex also knows this, and does not ignore it.
Finally, this just makes sense. Rolex has a complete layup here with releasing the black bezeled version of the Ceramic GMT Master II. The demand will continue to be out of control for this model. Sometimes things do not need a reason other than it just makes sense.
Sweeping the internet for rumors on this topic, shows that the expectation is that Rolex will release this model back to the public with a red shafted GMT hand. They already have this GMT hand variation on the Pepsi GMT Master II, so all they would need to do is manufacture a black ceramic bezel. Additionally, the movement in the latest GMT Master II is different from the 116710 that originally had this black bezel. Rolex rolled out the 3285 GMT Rolex movement with the Pepsi GMT back in 2019, which replaced the 3186 movement in the all black GMT Master II. Rolex could just use the dial, hands, case, bezel assembly, etc. and just replace the Pepsi bi-color blue and red ceramic insert with a black one….Bob’s your uncle and we all head to the Rolex Authorized Dealer to beg for one.
I have tried to call a few Rolex dealers that I know personally. They all agree this variation seems super likely to roll out. A few have been super tight lipped about what they know, but what I could tell from our conversations is that Rolex is planning some change ups in 2022. Time to get the popcorn and see what happens at Watches and Wonders in a few weeks!