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By-Tor
09-30-2007, 12:47 AM
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/title-8.jpg

It's about time to do an updated buying guide & review of the GMT Master II replicas. According to Angus the replica factories aren't going to concentrate on this old model anymore, which has already departed from the Rolex catalog. It has been replaced with the new "ceramic bezel" version. That means now is probably a good moment to buy a rep of this fantastic watch.

For me, the 16710 - and the previous vintage plexiglass "Master I" are the one and only GMT Masters. I'm not interested in the new ceramic version at all. Personally, I don't understand why Rolex made such dramatic changes to their best and most fascinating model ever. Not to say the new "Ceramic Master II" isn't a nice looking watch, but it just destroys all the traditions and soul from this legendary model. This is only my personal opinion though... Rolex fans generally have accepted the ceramic version quite well.


I have previously reviewed two reps of the GMT. The old "CN version", which is still sold by many dealers. It had a fantastic dial and excellent crown, but also some annoying and fundamental flaws, like the date magnification/datewheel, which was positioned too right. You can read the review HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=432) Just keep in mind that it was initially written over 2 years ago, and it was a decent rep by the standards we had back then.

There's also the "TW Best" model, which has very good quality feel... but again too many flaws. The review of this model is readable HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=35969)

It's quite safe to say that neither of those versions are very good purchases anymore. There are other versions too, but they're too flawed to even mention here.

What has always fascinated me about the GMT is the versatility. You actually buy three watches in one. Just by a simple bezel/insert exchange you'll get completely different style of watch.


http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/7-2.jpg

The first watch to compare is the Joshua "Retro" version (pictured above). It has the red/black "Coke" insert installed in this review. It's very good replica, and uses the good details from both TW and CN versions. This excellent rep has been compared against the genuine by Elprimerozen, who's pictorial can be viewed HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=25215) This exact model is only available from Joshua and Andrew, and I believe it's "custom made" for them.

It has very nice and deep metallic rehaut, excellet bezel with sharp teeth, correct date magnification, perfect long GMT hand and "triangle", correct cyclops/datewheel position and superb dial. It also has something that pictures won't tell... and that's excellent "quality feel" that's usually characteristic for all TW/MBW models.

It also has a decent replica insert. Not perfect, but something that you don't necessarily have to replace. "Retro" is very much wearable in "out of the box" condition, and I'm comparing it here against a both modified and unmodified version of the "Noob" GMT.

The downsides of this watch are the lugholes, which have been placed too close of the case edges, and the lack of frontal rehaut thickness (more about this later). The rehaut is also a bit too deep, which is again characteristic for the TW models. Rolex actually DID produce the GMT Master II with both lugholes and SELs in the early 2000's. That's probably why this model is called "Retro".

Each rep represents a different production run of the GMT Master. "Noob" replicates the standard dial, and "Retro" tries to replicate a rare dial version, which uses markings "GMT MASTER ||" instead of more common "GMT MASTER II" (see the gen reference picture below)


http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/16710blattvergl.jpg

The second watch in this review is the modified "Noob" version of the GMT, which has red/blue "Pepsi" insert installed in this review. I call it a "Noob", because it comes from the same factory as the famous Noobmariner. This model has also been called "MBW", because it's the exact model that the MBK dealers in Taiwan sell. This watch is a great base for the mods, and can be modified close to perfection... but in "out of box" condition it has some really awful flaws.

To make things complicated we have to be aware that there are several variations of the "Noob" GMT. The most important point (when purchasing this watch) is to make sure it comes with the correct dial. It comes with both correct and wrong hand stacks, but almost all of the watches (that are for sale through our dealers) use the "Explorer II dial". This means way too small Rolex coronet and ROLEX font at '12. This dial version completely ruins this watch, and I suggest you avoid that dial version like a plague. Stephane has made a review of this exact model, and it's viewable HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=25550)

Here's Stephanes picture of the bad version, which shows the problem areas (surrounded with red). Apologies to Stephane for mocking his watch.


http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/zz.jpg

As you can see from the picture, the crown guards of this watch has wrongly shaped insides. But fortunately anyone who has skill to take off the crown and stem can modify them easily. You just have to take metal off of the insides of the guards and "straighten" them. The bezel insert on Stephane's watch looks ok, but most "Noob GMT's" come with utterly awful inserts that have extremely fat numbers.

The correct hand stack version of the "Noob" is the exact same watch, but comes with the infamous modified movement. This modification is now out of production, and it's getting really difficult to source. bklm1234 (the guy who modified my "Noob") owns extremely rare version: He has the correct hand stack with the good dial (correctly sized ROLEX & the coronet). He posted a review of this modded watch, which didn't get much attention. That's quite amazing, because his rep is virtually perfect. You can see the pictorial HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=21708)

Some members have reported that their correct stack watches have been functioning ok. I guess there might be individual differences, but I owned 2 Explorer II's with the correct hand stack. The other one developed two fatal problems in 24 hours, and I traded the other one after a week. (Both reviews are readable in my section).

To understand the risks with the correct stack ETA modification, you have to read Ziggys review HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=12764)

For this reason I decided to go for the wrong hand stack version. For me it's easy to accept this small visual flaw for increased reliability. The "wrong hand stack" ETA modification is known to be bullet proof. That movement can also be serviced, and you can source parts for it. When your correct hand stack movement breaks, it's probably gone.

I have became friends with bklm1234, who's a fellow GMT/ExpII geek. He's not a dealer, but has a friend who has access to replicas. I asked him to find me the "Noob" GMT with the good dial a few months ago. He can also make modifications to the watches. "Noob" GMT is virtually useless without mods, so I requested a "mod package" from him as well. You can read about the process HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=50056)

You can see from the first picture of bk's review how the bezel teeth have no sharpness at all, so the bezel had to be replaced. He also modified crown guards for me. The insert that I use is from the Ebay seller "Faisal Ali" aka Jewelryoutlet/Wholesaleoutlet. His GMT inserts are excellent quality and can be recommended to anyone. Just remember to order the insert for "sapphire version".

Let the battle begin:

1. BEZEL AND INSERT:

Retro: Points: 8/10
Excellent sharp teeth and definition on the bezel, and "wearable" rep insert. Clicks and correctly rotates both directions.

Noob unmodified: 4/10
Smooth and wrong bezel, awful insert with fat numbers. The default bezel has a click but rotates only anti-clockwise, which is wrong for the GMT. See the reference picture HERE. (http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/IMG_2111.jpg)

Noob modified: 8/10
Superb bezel, high quality Jewelryoutlet aftermarket insert with correct shine and colors. The numbers on the insert aren't 100% spot on, because they're a bit too high. Not noticeable though. The modified "bklm" bezel rotates both ways, but loses the click because the bottom must be milled smooth. Again, see bk's WIP review (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=50056) to see the explanation and reasoning behind this.


2. DIAL, HANDS AND DATE MAGNIFICATION:

Retro: Points: 8/10
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/6.jpg

Not 100% of course, but as perfect as the rep dial can be. Impossible to see anything wrong without a loupe. All markings and the print quality are awesome. Perfect date magnification, but a little bit too thick date font and too big etched crown (which drop the points).

Noob: Points: 9/10
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/dial-4.jpg

Excellent dial, excellent print quality and finish. Perfect date magnification and font, but a little bit too thick GMT hand rim. Both watches have cyclops positioned correctly. The etched crown is extremely small (a'la Noobmariner) and almost impossible to detect.


3. CROWN:
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/crowns.jpg

Retro: Points: 8/10
Not great, but at least the maker has attempted the correct size and shape. Overall the crown is nicely defined. Correct logo. From the side view the crown is positioned too low, which is chracteristic for all ETA Rolex sports reps.

Noob: Points: 4/10
Easily the worst part of this watch. Rather ugly and oversized crown which should be replaced. And naturally it has the same problem as all ETA Rolexes, including the "Retro": crown positioned too low.


4. REHAUT THICKNESS:

GENUINE REFERENCE PIC:
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/3d_3.jpg

http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/9.jpg

Retro: Points: 5/10
The retro version doesn't have enough front rehaut thickness. It's lacking the cylindrical and thick "front rehaut", which is characteristic for all genuine Subs and GMTs. However the pictures exaggerate the problem, and this flaw isn't even nearly as apparent in real life under most lighting conditions. (See the reference pic of the gen.) From the side-by-side pic you can see the (very) small difference in the date font thickness (the rep comparison photo below the gen pic.)

Noob: Points: 10/10
This is the best part of the Noob GMT. It has perfect frontal rehaut thickness just like its cousin, the Noobmariner. This is the exact reason why Noobmariner (and also Noob GMT) are extremely difficult to spot as a rep from the front view. Funny thing is that I never actually realized why most Rolex replicas looked "wrong", I just knew something about the crystal was out of place. It finally dawned on me whenl bklm pointed this out in his Submariner Guide. It's actually the cylindrical shape of the rehaut which creates the thickness. MBW and TW Best models have the same cylindrical rehaut and good thickness, but not as good as the Noobys, which is yet another reason why I consider the Noob factory versions of Sub and GMT superior to all others.


5. CROWN GUARDS:

Retro: Points: 7/10
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/8-2.jpg

Decent, quite nicely shaped crown guards straight out of the box... but they're a little bit too thick and too much "curved down". But definitely good enough as they are, and not worth modding (imho).

Noob unmodified: 4/10
Horrible triangular insides. Absolutely not wearable. See bklm's reference picture of the unmodified watch HERE. (http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/IMG_2111.jpg)

Noob modified: 9/10
http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/b.jpg

Almost perfect. The best part of the Noob guards is their correct shape. They don't curve down too much, and the outsides are shaped correctly. The modification requires removing the crown and the stem. Don't attempt the mod, unless you know what you're doing.


6. SIDE REHAUT AND CRYSTAL HEIGHT:

http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/a.jpg

Retro: Points: 9/10
Excellent. The side profile is perfect, and the metal is very shiny. However the rehaut is a little bit too deep for a GMT.

Noob: Points: 8/10
Good side profile, but the rehaut might be a little bit too short. I'm not 100% sure about this, because GMT rehaut is shorter than Subs. The correct height is probably somewhere between, but since most buyers prefer the deeper rehaut I'll drop Noobys point by one. Both are extremely close to the genuine, and it would be impossible to see any problems without placing them side-by-side with the gen. Both watches have correct crystal height.


7. BRACELET AND SELS:

Retro: Points: 7/10
Decent, hollow link bracelet and correct clasp markings. The coronet on the clasp mimics the older, transistional GMT Masters. SELs are a little bit too bulky and long... and aren't properly "recessed". (see the picture above)

Noob: Points: 9/10
Excellent bracelet finish, just like Noobmariner. Very good looking SELs. (see the picture above)


OVERALL:

Retro: 52 POINTS

Noob modified: 57 POINTS
Noob unmodified: 48 POINTS


The "Retro" version is the best "out of the box" GMT replica without a doubt. It has some rare and excellent details, like the perfect GMT hand, perfect sharp bezel (which operates correctly) and a superb dial. It's immediately wearable, even with the decent default rep insert. The lugholes are positioned a bit wrong, but the lack of frontal rehaut thickness is actually the only thing that (remotely) bothers me. But this is probably something that only a select few people would ever notice. Although this same flaw is present in most Submariner and GMT replicas as well (more or less) it doesn't get discussed much at all... so I guess it's not that big of a deal. "Retro" also feels extremely solid and good, just like the TW versions. This is impossible to explain, but everything operates firmly (crown, bezel, time setup, etc.) and the detail of finish is excellent, at least by the rep standards. Personally, I'd just change the bezel insert and simply wear it as it is.


http://i23.photobucket.com/albums/b391/bytor2112/GMT%20Master%20II%20Custom%20Josh/1.jpg

"Noob" GMT isn't a great rep without rather heavy mods. The default bezel, crown guards and insert are all utter crap, and imho makes the rep totally unwearable (despite the end score being seemingly so close). The crown isn't great either. bklm1234 modified all these (except the crown) for my watch. Modified version is simply amazing (save the bad crown).

The correct hand stack version of the "Noob" (with these same mods and replacement crown) would be almost impossible to detect as a rep. When it comes to mods, only the sky is the limit with this model. Repaustria built a fantastic frankenwatch, using the correct hand stack "Noob" as a base. The review is available for VIPs only, and it's located HERE. (http://www.rwg.cc/members/index.php?showtopic=30479)

However the problem with this watch is simply finding it... most dealers sell the bad version with the "ExpII dial". Always make sure and double check that you won't receive the "ExpII dial version", because there's no way to fix that (unless you install a genuine replacement).

Also, don't bother buying the "Noob" unless you know how to do the mods. Like I said, it's not a great rep "out of the box". Of course you might always ask bklm1234 to source one & do the modifications for you. I'm not sure if he's able (or even willing) to handle big volumes though. All I know that Precious Time used to sell the wrong hand stack "Noob" at some point, but sold out all his stock. When I'm writing this review he wasn't able to source this rep model anymore.

The modified Noob version is naturally a bit more expensive option, and I'm sure 99% of the people would be happy with the "Retro". That's not a cheap rep, either. Joshua and Andrew sell this watch for $279 + shipping, which is a lot of money for a standard ETA replica. Unfortunately this excellent GMT model isn't available through any other dealers, so there is no competition.

I was going to keep them both, because I wanted both Pepsi and Red/black... but I received two bezels from bklm, which are designed to be exchanged back and forth. That's why the "Retro" version is most likely going to a good forum friend.

In short: Both versions are excellent, and are the only real alternatives if you consider buying a rep of the (already relinquished) 16710 Rolex GMT Master II.

I was going to quote bklm's prices here, but decided against it. As a RWG moderator I can't start supporting or advertising anyone's business. But as a member I can say that bklm is a great asset to the community, and knows virtually everything about sports Rolex reps. He's not a guy who makes a big noise about himself, that's why he's not so well known among the membership (yet). He's even bigger Rolex geek than I am, and I have learned a thing or two from him. I can recommend him 100%, because the guy knows exactly what he's doing - and what Rolex rep models you should get. He found this rare model for me and performed some extremely clever modifications. It's much appreciated.

The "Retro" version credits go to my friend ***Stephane*** once again for his "delivery help", and Joshua for the flawless transaction and communication.


http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/f.jpg

bklm1234
09-30-2007, 03:25 AM
Wow. Stellar, absolutely stellar. Very informative and very objective. And thanks for the praises. Kudos to you again, By-Tor.

- BK (Burger King)

dtan888
09-30-2007, 03:29 AM
Another great review from the master :D :D

Thank you By-tor.. this makes my boring saturday night alot more interesting.

Dan

ausall
09-30-2007, 04:10 AM
As always, your reviews are the most interesting and comprehensive :lol: another great one here :D

DWSmoot
09-30-2007, 05:22 AM
Excellent review as usual BT. I myself really appreciate the time and effort you put into this and your other reviews which continue to educate this community and provide valued information.

Again...many thanks!
:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

jaywin
09-30-2007, 08:14 AM
Well done. Very informative!

J-C
09-30-2007, 08:39 AM
2 thumbs up!

The rating scale is :10/10.

DVS
09-30-2007, 10:17 AM
great review!!

Looks like I'm going to save some money for the retro :)

By-Tor
09-30-2007, 05:37 PM
Thanks fellas. I really enjoyed doing this one. GMT is hands down my favorite Rolex, and having two awesome reps of it has been a treat.

Sourcing a good rep of this watch has been surprisingly difficult. I almost bought a gen from Ian Blower's Jewelers earlier this year (simply out of frustration)... but I guess that can wait (at least for a while) now. ;)

Mark Phelps
09-30-2007, 07:40 PM
Great job By-Tor!
Don't know where you get the time to do these detailed reviews..... but I'm glad you do!

By-Tor
09-30-2007, 07:57 PM
Thanks Mark.

Hmm...how do I find time to write approximately 1 review every month? I dunno... it's probably because I'd rather write about watches (which is my passion) than watch brainless soap operas. ;)

Uzi
09-30-2007, 07:59 PM
Heh. And I thought you did it for the geekbux. :lol:

By-Tor
09-30-2007, 08:08 PM
Heh. And I thought you did it for the geekbux. :lol:

Ok...for the geekbux too. :D

cskent69
10-02-2007, 12:26 AM
Bytor - great review. I am still torn as to what do to now. The answer seems to point to the Retro - and I really like lugholes. But the ill fitting bracelet and lugholes in the wrong place can never be fixed. Then again - the noob gmt requires so much work and money! What to do???

Thanks for the review.

jeff g
10-02-2007, 01:04 AM
Man oh Man WHAT a GREAT review... I think it is the best one yet.
The comparison between what is currently available, and pros and cons between CN an TW models is fantastic. Talk about informative.
Thank you. Your are THE Analytical KING. We are fortunate to have contributing members in our forums like you, that is for sure.
Interestingly, I notice quite a few adverts lately showing the black bezel instead of the typical 'pepsi'. It was fun to see the selection of different bezels illustrated in your piece. Great work as usual.

Ptolomeo
10-02-2007, 02:38 AM
BT, your perfect review has made me bought another Rolex, a GMT Retro. You made it with your 1680's review and I'm involved in a continue searching of the best genuine parts for a never-ending-project. Now this one. Please, STOP!!!! :)

By-Tor
10-02-2007, 04:22 AM
Bytor - great review. I am still torn as to what do to now. The answer seems to point to the Retro - and I really like lugholes. But the ill fitting bracelet and lugholes in the wrong place can never be fixed. Then again - the noob gmt requires so much work and money! What to do???

Thanks for the review.

You might ask bklm what his prices are. The base watch is just $230, so the end price might not be that much different (if you consider that Joshua sells the Retro for $279 + shipping).

I didn't mind the lugholes that much, personally.

By-Tor
10-02-2007, 04:23 AM
Man oh Man WHAT a GREAT review... I think it is the best one yet.
The comparison between what is currently available, and pros and cons between CN an TW models is fantastic. Talk about informative.
Thank you. Your are THE Analytical KING. We are fortunate to have contributing members in our forums like you, that is for sure.
Interestingly, I notice quite a few adverts lately showing the black bezel instead of the typical 'pepsi'. It was fun to see the selection of different bezels illustrated in your piece. Great work as usual.

Thanks man... much appreciated. I'm glad you liked the review. :hi:

By-Tor
10-02-2007, 04:23 AM
BT, your perfect review has made me bought another Rolex, a GMT Retro. You made it with your 1680's review and I'm involved in a continue searching of the best genuine parts for a never-ending-project. Now this one. Please, STOP!!!! :)

Nope... not yet. The SeaDweller is next... when it comes out. :D

Kollektor
10-02-2007, 06:19 AM
BT, you never cease to amaze. Read my mind with this one as I know absolutely nothing about this model but wanted to learn. I would definitely go with the retro should the occasion arise ;-)

Thanks again, Mate. The new SD better be good. Look forward to that review!

Ptolomeo
10-02-2007, 09:36 AM
Nope... not yet. The SeaDweller is next... when it comes out. :D

If it comes... I've read in RWI they aren't going to make the ETA version with the correct thick case :(

J-C
10-02-2007, 09:44 AM
I'm really looking forward to the new SeaDweller - if it's not the super rep everyone is anticipating, I hope they can get us a very good version nonetheless.

fingers crossed

By-Tor
10-03-2007, 03:43 AM
BT, you never cease to amaze. Read my mind with this one as I know absolutely nothing about this model but wanted to learn. I would definitely go with the retro should the occasion arise ;-)

Thanks again, Mate. The new SD better be good. Look forward to that review!

Thanks my friend, you always say the nicest things! ;)

By-Tor
10-03-2007, 03:44 AM
If it comes... I've read in RWI they aren't going to make the ETA version with the correct thick case :(

Now that sounds like a real bummer. :( What's the source of this information? Angus didn't mention anything about this when we had an email exchange about this model.

Ptolomeo
10-03-2007, 08:05 AM
Now that sounds like a real bummer. :( What's the source of this information? Angus didn't mention anything about this when we had an email exchange about this model.

King is the source, if I don't remember badly. I think the correct case will only be ready for the genuine movement.

J-C
10-03-2007, 08:07 AM
King is the source, if I don't remember badly. I think the correct case will only be ready for the genuine movement.

Man, that stinks - I'll ask around also and see if there is a new uber model on the way.

Ptolomeo
10-03-2007, 08:36 AM
Let us know, JCM

By-Tor
10-07-2007, 03:28 AM
Here's a side-by-side comparison. Also posted this to bk's section. The "Noob" vs. Genuine (on the right). Gen pic stolen from John Holmbrook. The gen uses the Sans Serif font on the insert... post-2006 GMT Masters didn't come with serifs, but used the same standard font as on my rep.

Actually I'm quite shocked myself how awesome the Noob is. Quite freaky. :eek:

Click the bar above the image for the full size.

http://i74.photobucket.com/albums/i243/BT2112/wt2-14.jpg

chas1133
10-08-2007, 04:32 PM
BT...simply awesome...I never wanted a Roly (any model) until I started reading the reviews...yours is full of details and sublties that only those who care would know...I love it..I also want one (Retro) If you have time, pls PM me with dealer info...Thx again for passing on all your knowledge...

mauiman
10-08-2007, 04:48 PM
One word....OUTSTANDING BT! I have enjoyed reading all of your posts but this one especially takes the prize. I to am very passionate about the GMT's. This review really gives a person some clear and concise advise on what to look for. Keep up the great work!

By-Tor
10-09-2007, 01:22 AM
Thanks guys.

@chas1133: Retro is only available from Joshua and Andrew.

TexBiker
10-09-2007, 07:06 AM
Simply a superb write-up! Josh and Andrew should be paying you a commission for this review. I'm a newcomer to the world of replicas and I purchased a Retro GMT over the weekend based solely on the info provided here.

I forwarded this link to my father and brother-in-law and they will likely buy a couple of GMT's, as well.

By-Tor
10-09-2007, 01:52 PM
Simply a superb write-up! Josh and Andrew should be paying you a commission for this review.


Thanks Tex.

About dealers paying for the writeups... uhh, no way. That would destroy the objectivity of my reviews, wouldn't it?

I have never favored any dealers when I do these, I usually just tell where I got my watch. Usually most of the dealers can get the same watches anyway... but it seems that "Retro" is only available through Josh and Andrew, so that's how I report it to the membership. I always try to review and buy the best reps, no matter who sells them.

chas1133
10-09-2007, 02:10 PM
there ya go! Integrity within the world of rep's...sounds like a contradiction in terms doesn't it? Well...not in our alternative world here...(I just hope Superman is still a good guy here!)

J-C
10-09-2007, 05:09 PM
BT- I say this often, but again...thansk for such a terrific review(s).

I speak for many of us when I say I bury myself in your reviews for hours.
The view counter does your reviews no justice - it only counts individual, one time hits, not multiple views/reads. I read these 5/10 times a week.

Thanks again BT

TexBiker
10-09-2007, 06:13 PM
Thanks Tex.

About dealers paying for the writeups... uhh, no way. That would destroy the objectivity of my reviews, wouldn't it?



I guess the humor was lost in translation, but I simply meant Josh/Andrew should be thankful for the favorable press. I never meant to suggest they should pay for reviews.

By-Tor
10-09-2007, 06:49 PM
I guess the humor was lost in translation, but I simply meant Josh/Andrew should be thankful for the favorable press. I never meant to suggest they should pay for reviews.

No probs man.

@JCM: Thanks for the positive feedback... much appreciated.

freqeist1
11-17-2007, 05:41 PM
brilliant review, i thought i knew my stuff!!