You know you want to buy a Rolex, but you’re not sure which one. You've narrowed it down to just two possibilities but you can't choose between them. Our latest article seeks to guide you through the considerations to take into account when your final head to head ends up with the most frequent shootout we see between two watches, and help you answer the question 'Rolex Hulk Vs Rolex Batman - What should I buy?'
The original traveler's companion. A watch built to accompany airline pilots on their journeys through multiple time zones. The extra hand you see on the dial serves the purpose of providing a constant indicator of 'Home time' when read against the numerals on the bezel. This allows you to set the hour hand to the 'Local time of any timezone you visit. A third timezone can also be read by rotating the bezel forward or backwards from by the required number of hours. If you're a frequent flyer or work across multiple timezones the GMT's function could be the perfect tool for you.
As the name would suggest this tool watch was designed for the underwater adventurer and can withstand water pressure down to water resistance rating of 300m, more than enough for most recreational divers. As well as remaining water tight under serious diving conditions the Submariner also supports divers with a uni-directional bezel, a safety feature giving a read of remaining dive time. Setting the luminescent pearl on the bezel in sync with remaining oxygen lets the diver know how much time he has left before needing to return to the surface. Should the bezel be accidentally turned, it will only rotate in the direction that would indicate you are running out of oxygen early. This ensures there’s always enough left in the tank to complete the dive time indicated on the bezel. Added to this the Submariners ingenious Glidelock clasp allows the bracelet to be sized up to 20mm larger, in 2mm increments without any tooling. This allows the Submariner to be comfortably fitted to a bare wrist, or over a wetsuit in seconds.
Whilst both watches are built in a 40mm Oyster case, with a Rolex Oyster bracelet, in Oystersteel, there are several subtle differences that are defined by the purpose and the collection that each watch has originated from. After the colour the most obvious difference between the two models is in the bezel. The Rolex GMT Batman features a 24hr scale with a triangle representing midnight, and large numerals at 2hr intervals, with a dot between each one representing each interspersing hour. These hour markers are engraved into the ceramic and painted with platinum to aid legibility and provide a distinct contrast against its background. The ceramic itself is produced as a one piece, two colour blue and black engineering marvel. With dark blue representing the hours of daylight running from 6:00 - 18:00 and black representing hours of darkness between 18:00 - 6:00. It is this bezel that will sway the aesthetic bias towards a Rolex Batman for many. Furthermore, the black dial also has the extra detailing of a blue GMT hand with large arrow head finishing to allow GMT time to be read against the numerals upon the bezel. One final point to consider is the centre link upon the Oyster bracelet. With the GMT-Master being originally designed as a watch for Airline crew, it doesn’t need to withstand the external elements. With this in mind the middle of the 3 links has been polished by Rolex to create more of a show piece, framed nicely by two outer brushed links. Whilst this looks stunning on a new watch, if worn as a daily timepiece, or in tougher conditions these can quite quickly start to show even the smallest of scratches, a source of endless frustration amoungst many GMT-Master II owners.
There is simply no other place to start when looking at the aesthetic appeal of the Rolex Hulk than the very reason the watch carries this its nickname. The bold, vibrant, striking green colour of both the dial and the bezel simply demands attention. A watch whose personality is clear, and not for the shy or reserved, but will certainly make a statement. The roots of the Rolex Submariner Hulk 116610LV (Lunette Verte) provide a nod to the original LV anniversary Submariner Date which featured a green bezel and is often referred to as the Kermit. After the discontinuation of the anniversary Submariner in 2010 Rolex produced the Rolex Submariner green Hulk which we know and love today. Aside from the colour, the other differences aesthetic differences come down to the difference in purpose. The bezel on the Submariner is a lot less busy than the GMT. With a scale running between the 12 & 3 hour markers, punctuated at the 12 with a luminescent pearl set within the bezel, one of the traditional submariner hallmarks. The dial is also less busy than the GMT with no need for the extra hand, and the bracelet has a fully brushed steel finished, suitable for the more robust conditions it’s expected to operate within. There is however no getting away from the No.1 aesthetic appeal when making your choice, the bold, striking green Goliath that is the ‘Hulk’ Submariner.
Almost every watch in the Rolex Professional range comes with a backstory and the GMT-Master’s is one of the most famous. When Pan American airlines needed a watch to help the crew on long haul flights migrate between different timezones they turned to Rolex to provide the answer and the GMT-Master was born. The GMT gives the wearer the ability to always have a view on GMT time as a reference, whilst still being able to read ‘local time’ using the standard hour and minute hands. The bezel could be rotated in either direction to understand the time in timezones that were either GMT + or GMT – the required number of hours. The ‘Pan Am’ red and blue earned the watch a nickname more synonymous with another all American brand ‘Pepsi’ and all red and blue versions of the GMT have been lovingly referred to as this ever since. As modern technological innovations moved to metal bezels being replaced with a highly scratch resistant ceramic the GMT-Master II initially was only available with a full black bezel due to the difficulty in producing a two colour, one piece ceramic bezel. The Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR was the first stainless steel GMT-Master to return to a two colour bezel, with blue signifying daylight hours, and black representing hours of darkness. With new colours, a new nickname also become appropriate and so the Rolex Batman was born.
As iconic watches go; the Rolex Submariner arguably sits at the pinnacle. As a tool watch, since 1953 the Submariner has been ‘the’ diving watch instantly recognisable by almost anyone with even the slightest passing interest in watches. As such the Submariner has been the reference for many watch brands to produce a diving watch, not dissimilar in appearance. Once we get past the fact that the Submariner is 'the' dive watch of its generation we can also look at another icon’s affinity with this classic timepiece. Bond, James Bond, the legendary former Commander of the British Royal Navy, and then British Secret Service Agent 007, given his naval service, and being upheld as a 1960's style icon could only appear with the Rolex Submariner adorned on his wrist, couldn't he? And in a total of 11 films, from Bonds screen debut in 1962, up until the final appearance in 1989 he did just that. A period significant enough in the uprising of both the world’s leading watch brand and the Bond franchise to cement the Rolex Submariner as an icon forever more.
Understanding the difference between price and value is key here. There is very little between the retail price of the two watches with the Rolex Submariner Hulk LV at £6,950 and the Rolex GMT Batman BLNR at £6,850. This, however this is largely irrelevant for most people as getting on a waiting list in the first place can be challenging. Even if you do there’s no guarantee that you’ll get one at this price, or at all if Rolex decide to discontinue either watch. So, in this case the price is set by Rolex, but the market sets the real value. For some time now, the Rolex Hulk has been trading at a premium slightly in front of the Rolex Batman, At the time of writing there is a £250 difference between the two. Why? Well there are several factors that can affect the difference, and the most prevalent seem to be supply and demand. There is a perception that the Hulk is scarcer, although there is no real data to support this. There are long standing rumours that the Hulk is going to be discontinued, however this was proved to be false at the last major release event, Baselworld 2018. A difference in long term value, if any, is likely to be driven by production run length and volume produced. The BLNR has disappeared from the Rolex catalogue this year which has started to drive rumours of discontinuation at the next Baselworld show in March 2019. With the introduction of a new calibre 32xx series automatic movement with an improved power reserve of 70hrs, both models are likely to be discontinued in the near future to facilitate an upgrade. But the question is, will we then see a new 126610LV Rolex Hulk and a 126710BLNR Rolex Batman or will one, or maybe both be confined to Rolex history. The total discontinuation of the LV or BLNR is the event that we would expect to drive a dramatic increase in long term value for either model.
Whilst some people undoubtedly buy these watches purely for their investment value, the majority purchase to wear. Buyers in both camps take influence from the other with people buying a watch to wear often concerned by the potential future value and as to whether ‘buying a Rolex is a good investment’. Whilst both watches are built in the same 40mm oyster case, and both are presented on an Oyster bracelet, there are a couple of differences that may impact your decision on which to purchase
The Rolex Batman’s black dial and blue and black bezel is a subtle, neutral combination so can be worn to compliment literally any outfit. Wear it with a suit, a shirt, or a casual T-shirt of just about any colour. However, the Rolex Hulk and its bold green presence brings pro’s and cons. A perfect summer watch where the colour seems to burst out in bright sunlight, but there are some combinations that just do not seem to work. The adage ‘red and green should never be seen’ comes to play as well as a variety of other pairings with this bold green beast! So, you are left with a choice, of a Batman for all seasons, or a Hulk that’s electrifying in the summer, but more selective in the outfit it can accompany.
Both watches have an adjustment on the clasp to provide an improved fit depending on wristsize on that particular day. The clasp on the Rolex GMT Batman features the Rolex Easylink extension which allows an adjustment of 5mm by folding in or unfolding the Easylink extension under the clasp. A fantastic innovation to help adapt to natural variation in wrist size which can caused by heat or altitude. The Rolex Submariner Hulk however really comes into its own here. The Glidelock extension system has been designed to manage the diver’s transition from land to sea, by providing a facility to extend the clasp by up to 20mm to fit over a wetsuit, which can be adjusted in increments of 2mm. A feature for the diving community but a feature that’s just as useful for everyday wear, ensuring you can get the perfect fit at every moment of every day.
You may find some or all the factors above important, or you may find some irrelevant. The fact is, that there is no such thing as the better watch, it all comes down to what’s better for you. Whether you’re fan of the bold intense aesthetics of the green Hulk, or a frequent flier that finds the GMT function a useful and elegant tool to be your companion, each has their edge and it’s how that edge compliments your lifestyle. Whatever your choice we’d love to know what your preference is, and why you choose it. Either way, you’ve selected one of the finest sports watches Rolex has to offer.