Hands-On Southpaw Rolex: The Left-Handed GMT Gets It Right

While the new Air-King might be more radical than it first appears, the strange new destro GMT-Master II actually makes perfect sense.

When a new watch comes out, I try to reserve judgment. First impressions are fine and good, and necessary to do what I do for a living – and, hey, once you’ve held a watch in your own two hands you can go nuts with your opinions – but I don’t love how everyone is either in camp it’s amazing or camp it’s lame before they even see the thing in person.

I did finally come to a conclusion by the time I left the Rolex conference room, and I’ll share it here, but first I’m going to walk you through how I arrived at a verdict

So I tried to avoid the partisan approach when I first encountered the most talked-about new release at Watches and Wonders, the green-and-black Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126720VTNR, with the crown and date on the left-hand side.

When you read a trade show Hands-On story, you’re usually reading a finely distilled product. Rarely do we offer any insight as to what it’s like in the actual meetings where we spend time with watches. And sometimes the experience of interacting with the brand is just as fascinating as the product.

An appointment with Rolex to see their new watches is similar to that at any other brand, except for one thing: Every detail is buttoned-up. Trade shows are generally chaotic, but Rolex engineers all of the chaos out of the experience. You are seated at a long table. Given water, still or sparkling. And then walked through a formalized presentation about each new piece.

This is the most detailed breakdown on the internet

In my case, two Rolex representatives from the U.S. Public Relations and Marketing departments led the presentation, and one Swiss product designer from HQ was on-hand to answer any technical questions. We discussed each release and the U.S. team shared some details, history, and info about updates to the watches. I sat back and just observed until the new GMT-Master II was passed around.

Looking at the watch, I could see a vibrant green on the GMT hand and the same color on the bezel – the exact same green as on the Submariner Date. From here, I developed a loose theory about how Rolex landed on green for this release.

The first Sub – ref. 116619L, and it was blue. https://gorgeousbrides.net/sv/ Then, later, the Submariner ref. 116610LN with a black bezel and the Sub. So you have a trinity of ceramic bezels: Black, green, and blue.

In 2007, we saw the first all-black cerachrom bezel. In 2013 came the first inclusion of blue. Then blue-and-red and the “root beer” colorway followed. So where could Rolex go from there?

If the GMT-Master II followed the Submariner’s color introduction pattern, then heading into this year the only color missing from the lineup would’ve been green. The clues were there all along. In hindsight this is all obvious.

But you know what’s not obvious? The reasoning behind a left-handed configuration, with the crown on the left-hand side of the case and the date aperture at 9 o’clock, instead of at 3 o’clock like any other GMT-Master II (or original GMT-Master).

In Danny’s initial coverage of the ref. 126720VTNR he notes that there’s historic precedent when it comes to left-handed models from the Rolex factory:

Auction fans will remember that in 2018, during both its Geneva and Hong Kong auctions, Phillips did sell two possibly unique Rolex GMT-Master ref. 6542 models – one in the classic Pepsi configuration, and another in gold with a brown bezel (both without crown guards). But it is highly likely that these were commissioned pieces. In fact, the gold model seems to have been an issued watch. These two vintage lefties did technically establish a destro precedent (one further bolstered by the existence of left-handed Cellini and Submariner models).

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