Rolex GMT-Master II 116710LN 'SEA-KING' Limited edition of 123 pieces

Rolex GMT Master II 116710LN SEA KING

Produced in 2014, this is an exceptionally rare GMT, which was made in a limited run of 123 pieces and dedicated to the Sea King helicopters which were used in both anti submarine warfare and search and rescue missions. 

Prior to its UK retirement in 2018, The Sea-King helicopter had flown in every conflict since its British maiden flight in 1969. 

Interestingly, its retirement was short lived as the MOD brought them out of storage and delivered Sea-Kings plus training for ten crews to Ukraine as a sign of their support of the country in response to the Russian invasion and subsequent war.

The Sea-Kings are flying again, NOW. 

Back to the watch though, the limited run was commissioned by an ex naval officer who had spent much of his working life with and on the Sea Kings and wanted to celebrate the machine that had been so pivotal and emblematic to both his career and the Britsh armed forces.
He approached a few brands without success, but then met with Rolex who agreed to the mission. 

Originally 179 Sea-King pieces were commissioned, to match the number of helicopters that the British forces had owned, but this was later reduced to 123 for reasons unknown, with number 1 being a full gold model. 

Rolex engraved the legendary helicopter on to the caseback of 123 steel ceramic GMT Master II’s - fittingly, the travellers watch.
No other details of the watch was changed beyond the rear engraving so its still a 40mm full 904L steel Rolex sports piece with black cerachrom bezel, GMT function and date on an oyster bracelet with polished centre links, an easy link extension clasp and 100m water resistance courtesy of a trip lock crown. Boom, standard spec. 

The Sea King GMT's were never released to the general public, and were only offered to qualifying navy personel. 

Interestingly enough when news of them travelled to internet forums, they were not received particularly well and the very idea of paying for an engraved Rolex was viewed as tantamount to kicking a kitten. There were also rumours of fakery and highjinx, which led to Rolex UK receiving a number of calls and requests to confirm authenticity, and while they were happy to do so, ultimately requested that the retired officer who commissioned them stop publicising the Sea-Kings to give the phones a rest. 

Although it sounds unlikely, Rolex does have form for agreeing to highly limited specialist military engravings on some of their professional pieces.
Another example of which is the 2012 Explorer II for the SAS which is engraved with “who dares wins” on the case side and the SAS dagger with soldiers initials on the caseback. 

All of these military editions were sold at UK RRP to qualifying individuals.

Although they were never “military issued” pieces, the Sea King and SAS Explorer are true “factory” editions and as a result, these commemorative models have enjoyed strong residuals whenever they have appeared on the market.

But here is the most exciting part of a rare Rolex alert, this piece isn’t mint and it isn’t a safe queen.

It has been lent to us by a long-time owner for the purpose of interest only.
It bears the all the hairlines and dings of his life, and the life of a true tool watch, and for that, it is absolutely brilliant.