It’s no secret that steel sports Rolex are in their own class these days. Hell, people are even willing to sell a kidney or more for a Lange 1 in steel. As steel Rolex auction results routinely break new highs, it seems worth considering their precious metal-based siblings as an alternative with intrinsic and extrinsic value. In the decade of its release, the 18K GMT was the ‘fuck-you money’ choice of model. By the 90s, any gold sports Rolex was seen as completely tasteless. So out-of-vogue, in fact, that they barely shifted. This is underlined by the fact that sales of this exact watch were a bit slower in period, leading to a more scarce collector’s market today. Today, the faux-pas hasn’t just passed. The gold GMT looks far more attractive than it ever has.
The 16710 marked the introduction of the second GMT-Master II iteration with a multitude of metal, dial, and bezel options, spanning the late ’80s right up until 2007. Was gold popular then? No. Decidedly. But the tonality of black dial, black bezel, and full gold on this 16718 undeniably worked. Importantly, the case became substantially thinner in this reference, a hallmark which many prefer. Given the 18 year run, there are many variants including tritium, luminova, and superluminova dials. In addition, this was the reference which saw the springbar holes on the lugs fill in, though thankfully chronologically not yet for this example. After this, it was all Cerachrom. If what you’re after is ultimate technical sophistication with a slim case and classic bezel, it would be hard to do better in sports Rolex.
Vintage gold is considerably softer than steel. One should keep this in mind when purchasing and evaluating examples. Rolex’s alloy tends to be a bit more robust than most, but even so things mark up quickly. That said, this case is amazing. It has been said that condition is the new rarity. Well, this reference is relatively rare and in impeccable condition. Check and check. Dial-side, there’s nothing of note. The luminova of this generation is ageless, as one would expect. Dial prints are perfect. It comes with a box but no papers from a well-regarded Swiss retailer.
Find this 16718 here from Vintage Watches Zermatt for 36000 USD.