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September 17th, 2019

A brief history of the Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi

rolex gmt master pepsi

What do you prefer – Pepsi or Coke? Although it is a matter of individual tastes, there is ideally one straightforward answer when it comes to the Rolex GMT-Master. The original Rolex GMT-Master introduced in 1955 featured a red and blue 24hour scale display, nicknamed as ‘Pepsi’. However, the new GMT-Master II Pepsi represents the rebirth of the classic model in its original form.

The Story of PanAm Airways and ‘Pepsi’ Generation

Rolex designed and developed the original Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 6542 in 1954 for the Pan American airways. They wanted a reliable timepiece that could display a second time-zone for the use of its pilots crossing different time-zones.

As a solution, the brand introduced a fourth hand whose pointer would make a full revolution each 24hours and will display the second time-zone on the rotating bezel. However, the rotating bezel featured a Bakelite insert that flaunted an upper blue part and a lower red part along with 24hour luminous numerals on them.

This unique blue-and-red bezel was immediately nicknamed as ‘Pepsi’ by collectors. Although the Pepsi Company at that time had upper red and lower blue colours, the name stuck and any Rolex GMT-Master with blue and red bezel insert was named as Pepsi.

The Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126710 BLRO

The Case, Bracelet & Winding Crown

Rolex devised the Jubilee bracelet for the Datejust in 1945. However, the Rolex GMT-Master models with this bracelet option have been available since 1959. But the Jubilee bracelet in the GMT-Master II watches does not use the Oysterclasp folding clasp like in the Datejust. Instead, the bracelet has the Oysterlock folding clasp.

However, both the clasps provide Easylink extension piece that allows the bracelet to lengthen by 5mm. When it comes to craftsmanship and functionality, the quality of the clasp on the Jubilee bracelet goes closer to premium. When closed, the safety folding bar is hardly noticeable.

The winding crown is also easy to use. You have to just unscrew for winding the timepiece. In the first pulled-out position:

  • You can move the primary hour hand forward or backwards in an hour increment for setting a second time-zone,
  • The date will proceed in either direction accordingly.

Now, in the second position:

  • Users can adjust the minutes-hand along with the primary hour-hand and 24hour-hand.
  • The 24hour hand is primarily used for home time or all significant GMT, pilots while the hour hand shows local time.

The Rolex GMT-Master II watches are known for this specialised function meant for travellers. Moreover, the bezel can also be temporarily adjusted to display another time-zone.

The Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126710 BLRO is crafted in the brand’s patent 904L Oystersteel and features a satin-finished 40mm diameter case with polished sides. However, the earlier GMT-Master Ref. 116719 BLRO in white gold was discontinued, and the Reference 116719 BLRO-002 replaced it.

Although the GMT-Master ref 116719 BLRO-002 flaunted the ‘Pepsi’ bezel, it had a dark blue dial instead of black. This reference retained the Calibre 3186; whereas the Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 126710 BLRO acquired a new movement.

The Colour & Patents

When introduced in 1955, the bezel of GMT-Master Pepsi was made up of Plexiglass. The red-blue colour, as well as the white track, was imprinted on the underside.

  • Rolex manufactured aluminium bezel with colours that was made utilising an anodising process, followed by the zirconium-oxide ceramic track.
  • However, the manufacturer came back to ceramic and added a rare earth oxide, chromium oxide and magnesium oxide, resulting in the red ceramic bezel.
  • On the other hand, half of the bezel is infused with a metallic salt solution before the sintering process to get the blue colour.
  • Finally, the bezel is sintered at 1,600 degrees Celsius for over 24hours that emanates the final colours.

The New Rolex Calibre 3285

Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 126710 BLRO ‘Pepsi’ is the first version to house the new patent Calibre 3285. Ten patents protect this newly developed movement, and today it offers a power reserve of 70hours. Moreover, the Calibre is fitted with the Chronergy escapement.

  • The Chronergy escapement is indeed a revived Swiss lever escapement. It is allegedly 15% more efficient than the conventional Swiss lever.
  • However, the escapement parts are known to be slimmer and thinner.
  • The pallet fork and pallet stones are lighter and smaller, respectively.
  • The escape wheel is skeletonised too.

While the design of all the components is refined for better performance, these reduce the escapement’s weight that eventually enables it to conserve much more energy. However, the new movement is equipped with the usual blue paramagnetic Parachrom hairspring along with Paraflex shock absorbers.

Moreover, the Calibre is certified by COSC along with the Rolex Chronometer Certification. The movement is synchronised to +2/-2seconds per day, and it is ideally the highest precision that any manufacturer can guarantee for mass-produced timepieces.

Rolex produced the new GMT-Master II Pepsi in minimal numbers since June 2018. However, some watches are resold via online auctions that cost nearly two times more than new. The fact is that demand surpasses supply in no small degree. While the brand made minimal changes and reintroduced new revised blue-and-red GMT-Master II, it became timeless with a classic look instead of simply vintage.

Where Can You Sell A Rolex?

Whether you are looking for 'Where can I sell my Rolex watch', or ‘How to sell my Rolex GMT-Master II’, trustworthy watch buyers like at The Luxury Hut in London ensures to make the process of selling straightforward and convenient for you. Begin the process by filling up the online form, providing all details of your luxury watch as much as you can. You will receive an initial price quote shortly.

If you are satisfied with it, bring in or send your Rolex watch to get a final offer. Accept the offer and get paid with minutes. With professional watch buyers at The Luxury Hut, you can rest assured you will obtain the best price possible for your watch in the second hand market.

Also Read:

Rolex Datejust: The History of the True Industry Icon

The History of Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

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