Rolex Watches Discontinued in 2019
The horological extravaganza that is Baselworld has shut up shop for another year, leaving in its wake a raft of new watches from a slew of brands, and Rolex in particular.
In truth, 2019 did not see the crown at its most adventurous. The biggest news from the show was the Rolesor Sea-Dweller which is already gobbling up global bandwidth as fans and critics battle it out across multiple blogs and forums.
But perhaps more importantly, from a collector’s point of view at any rate, are the models which have quietly been retired. Why? Because a watch that drops out of production automatically leaves a finite number still available to buy. And as time passes, which it inevitably does I’ve noticed, the supply will continue to dwindle, meaning the prices for the ones remaining generally only go north.
Nothing else in the luxury goods sector performs as well as a Rolex in terms of investment potential, and snapping up a very recently discontinued model can often be an attractive gamble for those with one eye on a possible financial return.
So below we have set out those pieces from the brand which have wandered off into the sunset this year—if you had your eye on one, move fast.
The Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR (Sort of…)
It was pretty well expected for the blue and black GMT-Master, the Batman, to go the way of the Caped Crusader’s parents and take a bullet this year. Which, in one way, it did; and in another way, kind of didn’t.
The ref. 116710BLNR was originally released in 2013 and marked an important milestone for the brand, as the first to wear a bi-color Cerachrom bezel. As one of the tool watch collection, it was forged from the insanely tough 904L stainless steel and wore its Oyster bracelet with pride.
Fast forward six years, and the Batman has been retired and been replaced with…the Batman.
Following on from the widespread glee that welcomed the arrival of the red and blue Pepsi bezeled GMT last year, Rolex has issued a sort of rerelease of the BLNR, this time with a slightly modified case to accommodate the Jubilee bracelet (as the Pepsi also had) as well as giving the engine a major update, swapping the former Cal. 3186 for the swanky new Cal. 3285.
Called the ref. 126710BLNR, it is now the only version of the Batman color scheme in the range, and means the 2013 example is no more.
This could be very good news for those in possession of the original. It was already becoming a real favorite among collectors, with prices on the preowned market rising steeply in recent years. Now it has become the last of the breed available on an Oyster, it could well be a strong performer in the future.
Others in the GMT Family
It was actually a fairly major upheaval in the land of the GMT-Master in 2019. As well as the Batman swinging off into semi-retirement, a total of four other models were culled from the lineup to make way for a bunch of new additions, from either this year or last.
Gone is any hint of yellow gold from the range, with the first of the next generation pieces from 2005 now withdrawn. That means the ref. 116718LN with either a black or anniversary green dial has dropped out of production, both solid 18k.
These again could be enticing targets for investors, ticking several of the boxes that point towards being a future asset.
Firstly, they debuted not one but two all-new features; the Supercase, with its heavier shoulders and thicker lugs, and the Cerachrom bezel, in this case solid black. Secondly, they mark an anniversary of an iconic name in watchmaking, clocking up the GMT’s 50thbirthday. And thirdly, being cast in solid gold, they were at the top end of the price range, leading to them being built in fewer numbers. An inherent scarcity could well see them rise in value over time.
Although they have been sacrificed to make way for rose gold, or Everose, versions of the same thing, yellow gold always comes back into fashion—in fact, it may have already started.
A year after that launch, the Rolesor version arrived, the ref. 116713LN. It also featured yellow gold, this time mixed with steel to make the two-tone effect which has become signature Rolex. With the updated Everose Rolesor edition from 2018, it was only a matter of when the older piece was going to have to make way, and that when is now.
And finally, the 2007 all steel GMT-Master II with the black bezel. The ref. 116710LN has probably the best chance at becoming a future star, both because it has had the shortest run and the fact there is no equivalent in the contemporary range. The series is now comprised entirely of two color bezeled models, leaving those who like their watches slightly more understated with no option but to go preowned. Coupled with the fact that steel Rolex sports watches, especially legendary ones like the GMT-Master, usually do extremely well financially, and it could be an exciting time to be on the hunt.
The 36mm Datejust and Day-Date Ranges
Both of Rolex’s dress watch titans were granted enlarged versions in the last couple of years, with the Day-Date 40 and Datejust 41 making an entrance in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Each arrived with the newest line in calibers, the Cal. 3255 and 3235, putting them ahead in size and technology over their 36mm compatriots.
Now that discrepancy has been remedied, with the 1162XX series of the Datejust being withdrawn to make way for the 1262XX, and the ref. 1182XX President replaced with the ref. 1282XX range.
The main difference is the movements, with the large and mid size watches now all driven by the same power plant.
Unlike the GMT-Masters above however, or indeed any of the Professional models, it is unlikely any collectors will be falling over themselves to secure the recently superseded edition of either. The Datejust and Day-Date are Rolex’s bread and butter, and as such, are produced in huge numbers. Therefore, there is no real shortage of them to attract speculators.
That being said, they are still just about the finest watches of their type available, so buying one for the sheer enjoyment of ownership is something we would always recommend.
Rolex can keep a secret like no other, so it is easy for these watches to slip away before anyone has noticed. Hopefully this has gone some way to clearing up what changes the brand has made to its lineup, and what to possibly look out for when searching for your next preowned buy.
— Featured Photo and Body Photo Credits: Rolex & Beckertime’s Archive.