If you’re in the market for a stainless steel Rolex sports watch, you would have no doubt noticed that they can be a challenge to source. And among that group, there are some that are almost impossible to get your hands on. For instance, the Submariner “Hulk,” the Daytona Ceramic, and the GMT-Master “Batman” are some of the most popular stainless steel Rolex sports watches right now. A dive watch, a chronograph, and a pilot’s watch–all designed by Rolex, all icons, and all modern iterations of timepieces born in the 1950s and 1960s. Let’s delve into these Rolex heavy-hitters to discover what makes them so appealing.
Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner Hulk
While the Submariner ref. 116610LV “Hulk” was not the first green Submariner (that honor goes to the Submariner ref. 16610LV “Kermit”) it was the first to have both a green dial and green bezel. The Submariner ref. 116610LV was introduced in 2010, along with the 116610LN with a black bezel and black dial. Fun fact, “LV” stands for Lunette Verte (“green bezel” in French) and “LN” stands for “Lunette Noir” (“black bezel” in French).
Like all modern Submariners, the ref. 116610LV sports a 40mm Oyster case water-resistant to 300 meters. However, despite the same 40mm measurement, the “Hulk” is actually beefier than its predecessors thanks to the “Super Case” silhouette with fatter lugs, thicker profile, and wider bezel. What’s more, the “Maxi dial” of the latest generation Submariner dive watches have larger lume plots and broader Mercedes-style center hands than dials of older Subs. The dials retain the date window at 3 o’clock along with the customary Cyclops magnification lens protruding from the sapphire crystal above it.
Another big difference between the Submariner ref. 116610LV and the Submariner 16610LV it replaced is the addition of a Cerachrom bezel. Cerachrom is Rolex’s proprietary ceramic alloy that is resistant to both scratching and fading. Of course, as a dive watch, the timing bezel is a unidirectional as a fail-safe method for divers. Essentially, if the watch gets accidentally knocked around underwater, the bezel can only turn in the direction that would overestimate immersion time rather than underestimate it.
Another design detail developed specifically for divers is the bracelet. Identical to all Submariner watches, the ref. 116610LV is fitted with an Oyster bracelet. However, the bracelet also includes a folding Oysterlock safety clasp with the Glidelock extension system, which allows the wearer to lengthen the bracelet without any tools to fit over a wet suit.
Inside the watch is the iconic Caliber 3135 automatic movement that supplies the Submariner with 48 hours of power reserve. Nicknamed the “Hulk” in some circles due to its vibrant green color and hefty build, the Submariner ref. 116610LV is one beast that’s hard to capture.
Stainless Steel Rolex GMT-Master II Batman
At Baselworld 2013, Rolex unveiled a new GMT-Master II model to the delight of luxury watch fans everywhere. It was the GMT-Master II 116710BLNR and because of its black and blue color scheme, it picked up the nickname, “Batman.” The Rolex “Batman” was the first GMT-Master II to include a bi-colored Cerachrom ceramic bezel–up until that point, ceramic GMT-Master II watches were only available with all-black bezels. “BLNR” in the reference number refers to “Bleu Noir,” which is French for “blue black.”
Remember, the two colors on the bezel aren’t just for looks, they serve a practical purpose too. They help differentiate between night hours and day hours of the second time zone, which is indicated via the 24-hour hand on the dial pointing to the 24-hour marked bezel. On the GMT-Master II “Batman”, the black portion of the bezel houses the PM hours while the blue side has the AM hours.
In 2019, Rolex released the latest version of the Batman in the form of the GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR. While the fundamental design elements, such as a 40mm steel case water-resistant to 100 meters, a black and blue Cerachrom bi-directional bezel, a black dial, and a 24-hour hand, remained the same, there are two notable differences between both generations.
First of all, the GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR is fitted with an Oyster bracelet while the newer GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR is paired with a Jubilee bracelet. Furthermore, GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR runs on Caliber 3186 with a 48-hour power reserve while GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLNR is equipped with Caliber 3285 with a 70-hour power reserve.
It comes as no surprise that the new GMT-Master II ref.126710BLNR became an overnight success. However, despite the fact that there’s a new Rolex Batman in town, the now-discontinued GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR is still exceptionally popular in the secondary luxury watch market.
Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona Ceramic
In 2016, Rolex unveiled yet another stainless steel sports watch that became a massive hit. This time it was the stainless steel Rolex Daytona ref. 116500LN. Sometimes referred to as the Daytona C, this is the first stainless steel Daytona chronograph that sports the coveted Cerahcrom ceramic bezel. And because this is a chronograph, that black bezel is engraved with the tachymeter scale used to measure average speeds of cars or other moving objects.
Prior to the Daytona ref. 116500LN, the only Daytona watches that had ceramic bezels were precious metals ones like gold and platinum. So, as you can imagine, the marrying of steel and ceramic on the iconic Daytona is a proposition that’s tough to resist!
Similar to all automatic Daytona watches, the case of the Daytona ref. 116500LN measures 40mm. The steel case is fitted with a pair of screw-down chronograph pushers and a screw-down winding crown to ensure the watch’s 100-meter water resistance. Like the steel Daytona ref. 116520 it replaced, the Daytona ref. 116500LN is available with a black dial or a white dial.
The black dial houses silver outlined registers while the white dial (also known as the “Panda” dial) has black outlined registers–and both are furnished with a red DAYTONA insignia arching above the subdial at 6 o’clock. Since 2000, all Daytona watches get their power from the in-house Caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement with 72-hours of power reserve. Finally, the steel and ceramic Daytona comes with the ubiquitous steel Oyster bracelet for the ultimate sporty finish.
A major appeal of the Daytona ref. 116500LN is that it looks remarkably similar to vintage Daytona watches with black bezels but it flaunts all the modern improvements and innovations we’ve come to expect from Rolex. This particular release from Rolex is one of the hottest, if not the hottest, to come out of the Swiss watchmaking behemoth in recent history. As such, there are exceedingly long waitlists for the Daytona C and the watch’s popularity is not likely to slow down anytime soon.
There’s no doubt about it, these three stainless steel Rolex sports watches are tough to find due to their immense popularity in both the retail market and the pre-owned watch market. So if you have the opportunity to snap one up, do not wait too long to make it yours because they are plenty of others waiting for the chance to own them.