Saturday, September 21, 2019

Rolex Mythbusting.: The Mysterious Case of The Blueberry GMT-Master?

...Rolex Mythbusting...

The Mysterious Case of 

The Blueberry GMT-Master?

Separating Fact from Fiction

My readers know I specialize in separating-fact-from-fiction when it comes to Rolex history as I have busted pretty-much every falsely perpetuate myth ever put forth. If you're familiar with my series named "The Complete History of Rolex Mythbusting" you know I have done so on 23 major false myths, and I have done ever more that haven't made it into that story.

Hodinkee recently released a superb interview between Benjamin Clymer and actor Daniel Dae Kim which can be seen above. This video has created much controversy around a certain Rolex model which was nicknamed "The Blueberry GMT". 

If you fast-forward to the 5:05 mare in this video, we see Daniel Kim unintentionally put Ben on the spot by almost naively asking:

Daniel: "I recently heard a story about blueberries that I  would love for you to confirm?"

The screen shot below captures this really awkward moment which I believe caught Ben off-guard. I can relate to Ben in this confusing moment as I have been asked similar questions in the past where I have been positioned as this ultimate expert on a subject, and somebody asks me a question that I don't know the exact answer to. Of course I don't want to look stupid, but I have to answer the question. In this image you can see Ben (and yes I am speculating) saying "Oh no! He didn't just ask that!?!!" Ben sees this coming @ 5:14, and responds by looking away and laughing.. 

Daniel continues: I heard that there are no such thing as an original 'Blueberry' from Rolex?"

Ben responds: "That is a—nobody knows for sure. There's been a few guests on our series here. At least two—actually three that own blueberry bezel GMT's. One of them was told by Rolex U.S.A. that his blueberry bezel was not...correct. An assumption was made that all blueberry bezels were not correct!? (up-talking emphasis at end) 

I have heard that as well from some pretty reputable sources. I also know some pretty reputable sources that sell blueberry watches all the time. To be totally honest with you, and I'm not—this is not a copout, I really don't know. I believe they are real. I believe Rolex made them, but I think there are a lot of fakes ones out there. 

Daniel: No doubt. This watch (Points to the Blueberry GMT on his wrist) tends to be Frankensteined more than just about any other.

Ben: "I mean you are paying a significant premium for a bezel. Right? And I think some people get really into that, and some people don't. Bezels aren't signed, which a lot of people may or may not not know. So there is no real signature on a bezel. So it's pretty easy to fake that. There is only a certain accepted serial range where a blueberry could be? (up-talking) So if you have taken the time to research that, my guess is that you are probably O.K.? (up-talking) But you know when buy something like this, I'd really want to make sure it is from the best sources possible.

Today a reader wrote-in via email and asked: 

Hi Jake,

My name is Ary and I’m a big fan of your blogs, especially your Rolex blog.  I’ve been a collector myself for over 20 years and my love of all timepieces began when I was around 11 and held a Seiko my dad was given as a gift and I got my first watch, a Swatch “Calypso”. (No surprise I’d end being huge Cousteau fan lol) 

I just read a great article on Hodinkee and saw a Rolex “Blueberry” GMT. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve never heard of this version before!?! 

I immediately went onto your site to see what I’ve been missing only to find that you’ve never posted about it!  Being that you are the “Grand Poobah” of all things Rolex, I was wondering if you could share any insights you may have about this rare watch and if you were planning on posting anything about it. 

Looking forward to see what you have in store next for us fellow enthusiasts!  Your eloquent words and fantastic pics keep us wanting for more!  

All the best

So to Ary's point that he could not find anything on and that I have never posted anything about it, I will point out that is not true. On the right side of Jake's Rolex World, there is an enormous list of labels and one of them is "Blueberry GMT".


Just to be crystal-clear the issue at hand, is that 'Blueberry GMT" models sell for a huge $$$$ premium over a normal or standard spec GMT-Master. If the Blueberry models are real, then they would be rare and arguably worth the premium, but on the flip-side of the coin, if they are all fake if you assume Rolex never made such a model, then a lot of money would have changed hands unfairly.

Back in 2008, I chronicled this example of a Cartier dial "Blueberry GTM" [Reference 1675] on a Jubilee bracelet, which was sold at auction by Christies for $35,754.

I must admit that at the time when I saw this I assumed it was completely legit as it had been sold by Christies. In other words, I assumed it was the real deal.

Real or Fake? As I can imagine Jerry Seinfeld would ask "So what is the deal with Blueberry GMT Master watches!?!! Are they real or not?"

Separating Fact from Fiction

'Just The Facts Ma'am"

To the best of my knowledge Rolex NEVER has published a catalog, brochure or magazine add that showcased a Rolex GMT-Master with an all blue bezel insert. 

And we learned from Benjamin Clymer that Rolex U.S.A. made a bold declarative statement by saying Rolex never made such a watch.

Daniel Dae Kim's controversial 'Blueberry' Rolex GMT-Master is pictured below. Notice it not only has an all blue bezel insert, but another unique feature and that is a 24 hour hand that is all red. This is unusual as Rolex has only ever made GMT 24 hour hands that have a red stalk/arm on the Reference 1675, with a stainless steel arrow head?

Some experts say Rolex never made such a watch, but they offered an all blue bezel insert as a service bezel. I have also heard the same thing about the 'all-red' 24-hour hand. 

I know a Rolex collector and expert I would say is the equivalent of a 7th degree black belt in Rolex collecting, and he said:

"I don't believe Rolex ever made a GMT-Master with an all blue bezel insert! I NEVER saw a GMT with an all blue bezel before 1999 at any watch show, market or auction. It's Bullshit!"

Another very high-ranking collector/expert said:

"There has never been one born out of the (Rolex) factory with an all blue bezel. They were all discovered from various service centers."

So what about the Blueberry GMT pictured below with the Arab dial? The myth perpetuated behind this one is that Rolex made special GMT-Master models with blue dials for the UAE (United Arab Emirates) Air Force, or something like that. 

Speaking of the UAE, Rolex watches have always been very popular in the Emirites state. In the photo below, discovered by Nick Gould, we see Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1965 rockin his Rolex Day-Date as he sits with his family while having a cup of tea near Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Zayad ruled Abu Dhabi for more than 30 years, and the photo below was taken just before he took over as the Ruler of UAE.

In conclusion, it appears Rolex never made or offered a 'Blueberry' GMT-Master for the retail market. This would suggest the 'Blueberry GMT' pictured below with the Cartier signed designation on the dial is a fantasy/frakenberry watch.

Just as Ben Clymer said, "I don't really know". Over the past 12 years I have heard all sorts of rumors about this watch. 

In trying to logically deduce the truth, I ask the question, why would Rolex make an all blue service bezel? What purpose would it serve? It just doesn't make sense to me. Hopefully one day we will be able to answer this question definitively, so today I can only conclude that the Mysterious and now Mythical Blueberry GMT-Master models sure do look cool.

One More Thing

Back in 2008, I wrote an article about how I had discovered what was purported to potentially be a stainless steel Rolex Submariner with a blue bezel and matching blue sunburst dial as seen below. Notice the dial features nipple indices. Assuming this is a real prototype, how do we know it would be stainless steel and not white gold? Because Rolex ONLY ever made gold submariner models with solid end links. The Reference 1680, which came out in 1967-1968 which was the first gold Submariner model was also the very first Rolex sports model to feature solid end links.

Back in 2008, Rolex introduced a white gold Rolex Submariner with a blue bezel and matching blue dial as we see from this 2008 Basel world press shot from Rolex. This watch was nicknamed "The Smurf". 

On December 5, 2011 I published the following article about how somebody had modified a stainless steel Rolex Submariner with a bezel from a white gold Submariner:

Update on December 7th, 2011: It is amazing how many people have mentioned to me that they love the look of this combination! My girlfriend saw it and freaked out and said, "I love that watch! That's the watch I want!!!" Since she saw the photos first without realizing what she was looking at, I had to tell her it was not available, at least off-the-shelf that way. Hopefully Rolex will offer this option in the future, because it looks great!!!!

A True Blue Sub
A Beautiful Ceramic Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner 
Customized–Kinda? Sorta, Maybe!?!

There are several schools of thought when it comes to customizing Rolex watches. First, there are the purists who say you shouldn't modify a stock Rolex and if you do, you end up with a Frankenstein watch. There is another school of thought that believes it does not matter what you do to a Rolex as long as you make it look better. 

What does Rolex think about customizing Rolex watches? I don't know for certain, but from what I have put together, they frown upon it. Some might argue Rolex should not really care, because the customizer has to pay for a real Rolex.

There is a third school of thought, which has a lot of grey area. It is an option where somebody takes a 100% genuine Rolex watch, and a part or parts from another model and combine them together. A really good example of this would be Xelor's Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner which he modified by putting a bezel and bezel insert from a white gold Rolex Submariner.

Photo Credit: sBmRnR

An all-new stainless steel Ceramic Rolex Submariner retails for around $8,000 and a White Gold Rolex Submariner retails for around $34,000. Of course, the standard black bezel stainless steel Submariner comes with a black dial, and the white gold Submariner comes with a blue bezel with a matching blue dial. 

So Xelor, got the bright idea to somehow purchase the blue bezel from the white gold Submariner and put it on a standard Submariner and in my opinion it looks stunningly great!!! So if you want to obtain a blue bezel insert like Xelor did, how do you do so? I don't know? In the United States, as I understand it, Rolex does not allow you to purchase parts without trading-in the watch part that is being replaced. 

I have heard that in Europe it is easier to purchase just parts, but never having done so, I honestly don't know. I just hope Rolex sees how beautiful this combination is, and eventually offers it, because it looks great!!!

Photo Credit: sBmRnR

Friday, September 20, 2019

Pepsi in Winter Wonderland

...Wrist Shot Of The Day...

Quentin's Ice-Cold Pepsi GMT

We are heading into Fall in the Northern Hemisphere again, and soon we should see some snow. So I thought it would make sense to take a look at Quentin's vintage Pepsi GMT-Master.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Cecilia Bartoli Roman Diva

...Rolex Hotness...

Cecilia Bartoli
Roman Diva

5 Time Grammy Winner

Cecilia Bartoli is one of the top Opera singers in the world today. She is considered to be a coloratura mezzo-soprano, coupled with an unusual timbre, and is one of the top-selling opera singers today.

Cecilia Bartoli was discovered at a young age by several leading conductors, which included Daniel Barenboim, Nickolaus Harnoncourt, and Herbert von Karajan, who is pictured below. 

Herbert von Karajan is seen in the photos above and below wearing his Rolex Professional Watch, and in the future I plan to do a detailed story on his amazing career as the conductor for the Berlin Harmonic Orchestra from 1955 until his death in 1989.

Herbert von Karajan and the other conductors discovered Cecelia just after she completed her vocal training with her parents—both of which are also singers—in her home-town of Rome in Italy. Her career took off at an unusually young time in her life, and she has gone on to attain amazing career achievements.

Rolex sponsored a BBC documentary more than a decade ago, which gives a superb overview of Cecelia Bartoli's amazing career achievements, which I highly recommend watching below!!!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

1972 Rolex 'Commando' Abercrombie & Fitch Ad

...A Rare & Mysterious Rolex Model...

1969 Rolex


Throughout its history Rolex has experimented like crazy with different models that were not long-lived, like the mysterious Rolex Space-Dweller. I published this story a few weeks ago, but since then I learned some really interesting things about this mysterious Rolex model I thought I would share with you. The Rolex Commando was 33MM and featured a manual movement and a Rolex Reference of 6429.

Rolex Oyster Commando Appears Courtesy of Rolex Passion Report

Abercrombie & Fitch

I recently saw a thread on VintageRolex Forums asking if the Rolex Commando was an actual model, and as we see here Abercrombie & Fitch offered it in 1972. 

I heard from @Watches2.8 who said:

Hi Jake,

I think the correct date is actually 1969 as the only serial I came across for all the correct Rolex COMMANDO models is around the 2075xxx range.

As far as I know the Abercrombie & Fitch sale was to get rid of the inventory that did not sell on U.S. Military bases in 1969/70. 

I actually own two of these Rolex models and I only know of 2 others in the world of the same quality. Ironically it went from a budget-priced $108 to being worth around $50K today! Probably rarer than a Paul Newman Daytona!



Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Profiles In Coolness: James Coburn

...Profiles In Coolness...

James Coburn

Pepsi GMT-Master

Who is the coolest dude to ever wear a Rolex? This is a fascinating question if you think about it since there have been so many. The top of this list would include Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Miles Davis, Robert Redford, and even Pablo Picasso. This being said, there is another person to add to this list that could arguably top the list, and that is actor, James Coburn. Nick Gould the amazing horological journalist discovered the photo of James Coburn rocking his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master in 1968.

So what makes a dude cool? I would argue coolness is a combination of being handsome, masculine, charismatic, stylish, confident, competent, with and a relative degree of nonchalance and je ne sais quoi—all of which James Coburn possessed in spades.

A Man For All Four Seasons

James Coburn was an unusually charismatic, handsome actor. During his acting career which made up the better part of a half-century he appeared in over 80 movies and 100 TV shows including Bonanza and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. James played many different roles in his career, and in 1998 won the Academy Award for his supporting role in the movie "Affliction." 

The Magnificent Seven

James Coburn co-starred in The Magnificent Seven alongside other famous tough-guy actors including Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson.

The Great Escape

In 1963 James Coburn co-starred in the great escape alongside James Garner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. We see the three of them together pictured below in 1963.

Our Man Flint

James Coburn made a series of two movies which debuted in 1966 and 1968 named Our Man Flint, and In Like Flint in which he played a James Bond like character.


James Coburn starred in a movie in 1968 named Duffy, where he wore his Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master as seen below. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT Master Taking a Coffee Break

...Rolex Outdoor Shot Of The Day...

Yellow Gold Rolex GMT Master

Taking a Coffee Break

Thomas took this amazing photo of his yellow gold rolex GMT-Master in front of his coffee cup, and I just love this great photo. I have to go make a latte now!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Letter To The Editor From The Netherlands

Letter To The Editor

From The Netherlands

I recently received this email from a reader in the Netherlands who wrote in to ask a quesiton about the Air King, and share some information and photos of his favorite films which features style icon, Toni Serviilo:

Dear Jake,

I admire your extensive blog on Rolex watches. Great photo’s and articles. I especially liked the entry on the airking, since I own a 114200 blue dial myself. However, there is no information with regard to Rolex dropping the “Air-King” designation on the dial at some point. My airking is form 2010, and still has it, but later 114200 watches are “just” Oyster Perpetuals, without any difference in the specs of the watch itself. Do you know an explanation for this?

Anyway, On of my favorite films is La Grande Bellezza (or “the great beauty”) Which won an Oscar for best foreign language movie.

The main character Jep Gambardella (Toni Serviilo)  is an absolute style icon, and he wears a steel Rolex Oyster. See attached pictures. It looks like an airking.

Kind regards,

Cees de Boer
from The Netherlands

Friday, September 13, 2019

Rolex Studio Shot of the Day: Single Red Submariner from Stefano Mazzariol

Single Red Rolex Submariner
[Reference 1680]

Stefano Mazzariol took this amazing shot of his Single Red Submariner which has a stunning dial that has had a fresh coat of luminova on the dial.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Hank Williams Jr. Rolex Day-Date Keeping The Time Of His Life

The Kings of Country Music Wearing Rolex Series

Hank Williams Jr.

Rolex Keeping The Time Of His Life

Hank Williams Jr. is the son of the greatest Country singer, Hank Williams Sr. Hank Williams Jr., is pictured below in the 1960s wearing his yellow gold Rolex Day-Date.

Hank Williams Sr. is pictured below with his son, Hank Williams Jr., Hank Williams died when he only 29 years old in 1953. 

Hank Williams Sr.

As I mentioned earlier, Hank Williams Sr., is considered to be one of the greatest country singers in history and in this next video, we have the pleasure of watching June Carter, who later married Johnny Cash introduce Hank Williams.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Spruce Meadows 'Masters'

Spruce Meadows 'Masters'