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David Pedersen - Aug 2023

What do letters like BLNR, BLRO, CHNR mean in Rolex reference numbers?

Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLRO 

You might have noticed that Rolex watches have their own special way of identifying their watches. Figuring out these code numbers, which are made up of letters and numbers, can be confusing. That's why we made this helpful guide to explain Rolex reference numbers.This guide is all about modern Rolex watches that you can find in their current collection. You'll see that there's a pattern to how the numbers and letters are used, which is actually quite rare in the world of watches. Surprisingly, Rolex reference numbers aren't too hard to understand. They actually make sense once you break them down.

Breaking Down Rolex Reference Numbers 

Let's kick things off with the 126710BLRO. This is one of the most well-known modern Rolex reference numbers. You've probably seen it so much that you'd recognize it anywhere, even if you didn't read the actual letters and numbers. Yep, it's the famous Rolex GMT-Master II in stainless steel with the cool "Pepsi" bezel, a black dial, and a fancy Jubilee bracelet.Now, what's special about the 126710BLRO is that it's a bit longer and fancier compared to other Rolex reference numbers. Unlike some other watch brands that use complicated codes, Rolex keeps things simple. Most of their reference numbers have just six digits, and that's been the case since 2000.But it wasn't always like that. Back in the day, Rolex watches had shorter numbers to identify them. Classic vintage Rolexes that people talk about a lot, like the GMT-Master 1675, had only four digits in their reference numbers.Now, let's focus on the first six digits of the 126710BLRO: 126710. What do they mean? Well, let's go back to where it all began...

Rolex Daytona 116500

Modern Rolex Watches

Most modern Rolex watches have reference numbers that start with either a "1" or a "2". Newer ones often begin with "2," except for some models like the Sky-Dweller, Pearlmaster, and Cellini, which don't follow this rule. Usually, this first number doesn't help much in identifying a watch, as it mainly tells you how recent it is. But there's an exception when telling apart the Explorer II and the Daytona, which we'll explain soon.After the first digit, there's a three-digit code that tells you about the specific model. For instance, the Rolex GMT-Master II has the code 267. The Submariner without a date has the code 140, and the Milgauss has 164.Let's talk about the Explorer II and the Daytona. The Explorer II's three-digit code is 165, always starting with a "2." This helps to distinguish it from the Rolex Daytona, whose family code is also 165 but starts with a "1." It might sound a bit confusing, but we'll clarify why in just a moment.

Rolex GMT-Master II 116711CHNR

Bezel codes

Moving on to the next number in the sequence, which is the fifth one, this number gives you information about the type of bezel used on the watch. Bezel types are indicated using the following system:

0: Smooth
1: Rotating
2: Engraved
3: Fluted
4: Gem-set
6: Rotating (again)
7: Various

Rolex Day-Date 228235

Rolex Metal Codes

After understanding the bezel style, there's one more single digit left, which is the very last one. This digit tells you about the metal or metals used for making the watch and its bracelet. Here are the codes for different metal types:

0: Stainless steel
1: Everose Rolesor (steel & Everose gold)
2: Rolesium (steel & Platinum)
3: Yellow Rolesor (steel & yellow gold)
4: White Rolesor (steel & white gold)
5: Everose (Rolex’s proprietary pink gold)
6: Platinum
8: Yellow gold
9: White gold

Rolex Submariner 116610LV

Understanding the Letters in Rolex Reference Numbers

The letters in today's Rolex numbers have confused lots of people who collect watches. They seem like they mean something clear, and if you ever felt that way, you're right! The letters in Rolex numbers are actually short versions of French words.Rolex is based in Geneva, and French is the main language there. So, if you know a few French words, like colors, precious stones, and some watch parts, it will make understanding Rolex numbers much simpler:

Bleu: Blue
Brillants: Faceted diamonds
Chocolat: Chocolate (aka brown)
Emeraude: Emerald
Glace: Window (aka crystal)
Jaune: Yellow
Lunette: Bezel
Noir: Black
Rouge: Red
Rubis: Ruby
Saphirs: Sapphire
Vert: Green

Rolex Letter Codes

Now armed with that useful dictionary, the following well-known Rolex reference codes will appear much clearer to you:

BLRO (Bleu/Rouge): Blue and red bezels found on GMT-Master I/II watches

BLNR (Bleu/Noir): Blue and black bezel found on GMT-Master II 116710BLNR

CHNR (Chocolat/Noir): Brown and black bezel found on GMT-Master II watches

GV (Glace Verte): Green sapphire crystal found on Milgauss 116400GV

LB (Lunette Bleu): Blue bezels found on Submariner watches

LN (Lunette Noir): Black bezels found on Submariner and GMT-Master watches

LV (Lunette Verte): Green bezels found on Submariner watches

Gem-Set Rolex Watch Codes

When talking about Rolex watches with gems, we need to look back in time to see more examples of what these letter codes mean. Keeping this list as a reference is a good idea. These letter codes sometimes appear or disappear in Rolex's collection, depending on the really exclusive models they make each year. You'll also find these codes on older Rolex watches for sale. Understanding them will really help you when you're looking for a watch:

TBR (Tessellate Brillants): Watch set with diamonds, such as Daytona 116576TBR

TEM (Tessellate Emeraude): Watch set with emeralds, such as Day-Date 40 228396TEM

SABLV (Saphirs Bleu Vert): Watch set with blue and green sapphires, such as Pearlmaster 39 86348SABLV

SABR (Saphirs, Brillants): Watch set with sapphires and diamonds, such as Submariner 116659SABR

SACO (Saphirs Cognac): Watch set with cognac-colored sapphires, such as Daytona 116598SACO

SAFUBL (Saphirs Fuchsia Bleu): Watch set with fuchsia and blue sapphires, such as Pearlmaster 39 86349SAFUBL

SAJOR (Saphirs Jaune Orange): Watch set with yellow and orange sapphires, such as Pearlmaster 39 86348SAJOR

SANR (Saphirs Noir): Watch set with black sapphires, such as GMT-Master II 116759SANR

SARU (Saphirs, Rubis): Watch set with sapphires and rubies, such as GMT-Master II 116759SARU

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