Posted on August 21 2019
The Best Affordable Rolex GMT-Master II Batman Homage and Alternative Watches
For many watch buyers the story behind a watches creation is just as important as the watches appearance. Perfection is when both the watches job and its looks compliment each other.
The two words you see constantly linked are ‘function’ and ‘form’.
The watch is a tool and as such has a specific function - often more than simply telling the current time. This function influences the watches design and styling. The most popular watches tend to be those that have a solid and recognisable function and a complimentary design.
The Rolex GMT-Master II is one such watch.
As with most aspects of 20th century watchmaking, Rolex were at the forefront of GMT watch design. The idea for the GMT function is a great example of a design produced to solve a real world problem. Pilots needed a way to see the time in the time zone they had just left and also within the new time zone that they were entering.
A watch was required that could simultaneously tell two different times, one being Greenwich Mean Time, hence the GMT.
American airline Pan Am approached Rolex to produce a watch for their pilots and in 1954 the Swiss brand delivered the GMT-Master. The watch included an additional hand which along with the bezel could be used to set a second time zone. It’s a very different watch to the over-sized pilots watches that we discussed here.
Subsequent releases of the watch included a blue and red bi-colour bezel and the upgraded GMT-Master II was released in 1983. The version that interests us is the 2013 release of model number 116710BLNR. This was the first in Rolex’s line to feature a two tone ceramic bezel. Because the company had originally struggled to produce a two tone ceramic bezel with red, a blue and black version was created. The BLNR in the model number refers to the Bleu and Noir.
The Rolex Batman was born.
Due to a scarcity of watches the Batman is a Rolex that you will have to join a waiting list to get your hands on. It’s a popular watch, mixing the appeal of a divers watch with the cosmopolitan and aspirational vibes of a travellers timepiece. Therefore, we thought we’d take you through a few of the more affordable alternatives.
The basics we’re looking for in a Batman style watch include:
- GMT hand
- Blue/Black Bezel
- Mercedes Style Hands
- 40mm Diameter
- Cyclops at 3 o’clock
- Black Dial
- Oyster or Jubilee style bracelet.
Timex Allied Three GMT Quartz Watch - TW2R43500D7PF
Timex can trace its origins back to the mid 1800s and the creation of Waterbury Clock Co, which would become Timex a century later. During this period Timex produced watches and other components for government contracts before creating a new tough low priced watch. Marketed with the slogan "Timex – Takes a Licking and keeps on Ticking", and featured in elaborate stunts to show its durability, the new watch helped the company become a market leader. By 1962 a third of all watches sold in the US were manufactured by Timex.
This watch is part of the Allied line and is a 43mm stainless steel watch with 100M water resistance. Although quartz powered it’s otherwise got most of the basic features of the Rolex although it's noticable that the styling of the hands and dial differs. There's also the addition of the pusher at 2 o’clock.
Squale Horizon GMT Ceramica
Squale is a relatively small brand that was founded in 1946 - although they didn’t release complete watches until 1974. Now Italian owned the brand is based in Milan. The watches themselves are still produced in Switzerland and the range consists primarily of divers watches.
The Horizon GMT Ceramica was a limited edition model that featured a Swiss made ETA 2893-2 automatic movement and a very respectable 300M water resistance. As expected for a watch of this quality there’s a sapphire crystal with the cyclops over the date window and the ceramic bezel.
Davosa Ternos 16157145
Davosa is another Swiss brand with more than a century's heritage. Beginning as a small one man company the business expanded as the sons became involved, and in 1987 the first watches were released under the Davosa banner.
The Ternos GMT is one of the more expensive watches on this list, but it is a Swiss automatic with a DAV 3032 movement. There’s the ceramic bezel and 200M water resistance. Less than the Squale, but absolutely fine for most watch buyers needs.
Steinhart Ocean 39 GMT Premium 500
Founded by Gunter Steinhart, this German company have been producing watches for a couple of decades now. So not one of the larger established brands, but certainly a company that has built a solid reputation since it's launch in 2001.
Stylistically Steinhart have made their name producing designs inspired by Rolex, with a strong preference for the vintage look. A quick scan of their current range will show models reminiscent of the Submariner, Explorer II and Daytona.
However, Steinhart are far from a homage brand like Alpha, with their watches being powered by their own movements – using a Swiss ETA base.
With the Ocean GMT Steinhart have produced a high spec watch. So although there’s no cyclops on the glass, it is a domed sapphire crystal with a double anti-reflective coating. The ETA movement is decorated, has coloured screws and can be viewed through the exhibition back. As for water resistance, it’s a whopping 500M.
Mondia is another historically Swiss brand that is now based in Italy. This watch has similiar specs to the other ‘affordable luxury’ brands on the list. It also uses the ETA 2893-2 movement. It ticks all the boxes we need for a Batman homage. There’s the mercedes hands, ceramic two-tone bezel and cyclops window on the glass.
Bernhardt Corsair GMT
Bernhardt Watch Company is an American family run business with founder Fred Bernhardt Amos, his son and both their wives working in the business. We’ve already featured the Binnacle Anchor III here in our article about Rolex I alternatives.
The Corsair GMT isn’t a direct homage, but it’s clearly taken design inspiration from the Rolex GMT II. There’s no mercedes hands and no cyclops, but the general aesthetic is similar.
Formerly called the Globemaster, the Corsair GMT is a newly updated version of Bernhardt's flagship timepiece. Now named in honour of the F4U Corsair fighter plane, and featuring its likeness within the clear display case back, the Corsair GMT is a well designed and attractive watch.
There’s also a number of other watches worth considering if the piece doesn’t have to be a direct homage or you’re willing to take a punt on a cheap Chinese brand.
At the pricier end you could take a look at the Boldr Globetrotter GMT (eBay) and the Tag Formula 1 WAZ211A.BA0875. Both have the are GMT watches with the Blue/Black bezel - but they have their own unique styling.