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Since 2018, Rolex has updated its famed GMT-Master II collection of pilot watches with new movements, slight design updates, and brand new material options. For instance, this is the first time Rolex has offered rose gold GMT-Master watches since the model’s inception in the 1950s. Rolex now makes a full rose gold GMTMaster II and a two-tone rose gold and stainless steel GMT-Master II–which is the subject of our review today. Join us as we take a closer took at the modern iteration of the Rolex “Root Beer,” the GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR

Rolex GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR
Two-Tone Rolex GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR

But First, What Is the Rolex Root Beer?

One of the defining design characteristics of a GMT-Master watch is its rotating bezel marked to 24-hours. The arrow-tipped hand on the dial points to a number on the 24-hour bezel, which is how the GMT-Master watch indicates a second time zone. Over the years, Rolex has produced a number of different colorways for the GMT-Master bezel including blue and red, black and red, brown tones, blue and black, and solid black. Aside from being an appealing style, the bi-colored bezel is a practical way to differentiate between day/night hours in the second time zone.

GMT-Master Root Beer
Vintage GMT-Master With “Root Beer” Bezel

In true Rolex fandom fashion, these colorful bezels have picked up nicknames such as the “Pepsi” (blue and red), “Coke” (black and red), “Batman” (blue and black), and “Root Beer” (brown tones). While the modern GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR sports a bezel that is black and brown rather than strictly brown tones like on the original GMT-Master Root Beer watches, the new versions are also often referred to as the “Root Beer.”

Rolex GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR

Launched in 2018 as part of the brand new generation of GMT-Master watches, the Rolesor GMT-Master II 126711 brings together 18k Everose gold and Oystersteel on one watch. Just to refresh, Everose gold is Rolex’s proprietary rose gold alloy that combines gold, copper, and platinum for a formula that promises to never lose its warm hue. Oystersteel, on the other hand, is the brand’s name for the special 904L stainless steel alloy it uses with improved resistance to corrosion. Finally, Rolesor is Rolex’s term for combining gold and steel in one watch.

Rolex GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR
Rolex GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR Full Set

Similar to all modern Rolex GMT-Master watches, the two-tone GMT-Master II 126711 has a 40mm Oyster case water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet). The steel case is fitted with a Triplock screw-down winding crown (in Everose gold) and a screw-down fluted caseback to ensure that water does not get into the watch.

While the case of the ref. 126711 is craft from stainless steel, it is topped with a knurled bezel in Everose gold, which includes a Cerachrom ceramic insert. Cerachrom is Rolex’s name for its collection of ceramic bezels where the bezel markings are first cut into the ceramic surface then the whole bezel insert then is dipped into gold and polished, leaving behind gold-filled markings. Cerachrom is noted for its tough resistance to scratching and fading, meaning that the bezel will retain its beauty for decades. The ceramic bezel of the GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR is part black and part brown (fun fact, CHNR stands for “chocolat/noir,” which is French for “chocolate/black”). This particular bezel color combination is a first for Rolex but as we mentioned, due to the presence of the brown shade, the GMT-Master II 126711 CHNR is often referred to as “Root Beer.”

Two Tone Everose Gold GMT-Master II 126711
The Black and Brown Cerachrom Bezel of the GMT-Master II 126711

The dial of the GMT-Master II 126711 ties the overall design of the two-tone Rolex together with a black dial background, Everose gold hands and hour markers, and a brown colored “GMT-Master II” label on the dial. As is customary for the GMT-Master watch, there is a date window at 3 o’clock accompanied by the Cyclops magnification lens bubble on the sapphire crystal. For optimal legibility in low light, the hands and indices are filled with Chromalight luminescence, which glows blue in the dark.

Finally, unlike the steel versions with Jubilee bracelets, Rolex fitted the GMT-Master II ref. 126711 CHNR exclusively with a two-tone Oyster bracelet. Following the same design codes of other two-tone Rolex bracelets, the 18k Everose gold center links of the GMT-Master 126711 are flanked by Oystersteel outer links. Like most modern Rolex sports watches, the new GMT-Master II bracelet comes equipped with a solid folding Oysterlock safety clasp with the Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link system for easy micro-adjustments on the go.

Rolex Caliber 3285 GMT Movement

In addition to different material options and bezel colors, the biggest change to the latest GMT-Master II watches is the brand new movement that serves to power them: Caliber 3285.

Beneath the Solid Caseback of the Ref. 126711 is the new Caliber 3285

Boasting 10 patents and a slew of new components, the Caliber 3285 automatic movement offers an improved power reserve rating of around 70 hours compared to the standard 48 hours of previous Rolex GMT movements. What’s more, Caliber 3285 also features a blue Parachrom hairspring for better resistance to shocks and temperature swings.

Like its predecessors, the in-house made Rolex Caliber 3285 is COSC-certified, meaning that it’s an official chronometer wristwatch as deemed by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute. However, Rolex went above and beyond the parameters set out by COSC as the Caliber 3285 guarantees a precision rating of -2/+2 seconds per day.

The Modern Take on the Rolex Root Beer

Whether you opt for a vintage Rolex Root Beer or the brand new GMT-Master II 126711, the warm brown and gold-toned approach to the famous pilot’s watch is a style that is simply unforgettable.