Saturday, December 06, 2008

Jake's Cherry Vanilla GMT Design Idea...

Jake's Cherry Vanilla GMT Design Idea

I am a designer by training. I have been designing for as long as I have been wearing Rolex watches and that is over a quarter century. Over the last quarter century, I have experimented with designing watches and had a lot of fun.

I love the timeless, elegant, masculine design of sport Rolex watches and I have a design idea I want to share with you. The interesting thing about this design idea is that even though the images of the watch design I call the Cherry Vanilla GMT are not real, this watch can actually be made, and I am thinking seriously about building this actual watch.

I call this modified GMT Master II a Cherry Vanilla. The three photos below are of a real Rolex GMT Master that has had its black GMT dial replaced with a White Rolex Explorer II dial, and the standard silver hands from the GMT have been replaced with the black hour, minute and second hands from a standard, white dial Rolex Explorer. Also, in order to make this watch you would have to purchase an aftermarket all red GMT bezel that is not made by or approved by Rolex. I will get a little more into the logistics of how to make this watch later, but for now let's just focus on the design elements.

Some people won't like the design of this watch, but I love it. I like the Rolex Explorer II standard bezel that does not move, but like most people I like the rotating bezel found on the Submariner, GMT and Yachtmaster.

So essentially this hybrid watch is a GMT Master that has been converted into a Rolex Explorer II with a white dial and red rotatable bezel. I imagine the minimum takeaway point here is that you can put a rotating bezel on an Explorer II.

I love the color combo of red, white, black and stainless and I particularly like the combination on the right with the black strap. I think the black strap combination gives the watch a really sporty, cool look. Red is one of my favorite colors and I really like this combo. On the one hand it has a Christmasy, wintery, icy, candy-cane vibe, and at the same time it has a summery, lineny, light, cool, crisp, clean vibe. 

Once again, I must point out that if you customized your GMT to this color and you feel like changing it up, it would be relatively easy to swap bezel inserts. Many people who own GMT's don't just have multiple bezel inserts, but multiple bezels, each with a different color insert because it is much, much easier and faster to swap a bezel than it is to swap out a bezel insert.

Before, I go any further, I must thank the two owner's of the German Rolex Forum located at, Hannes & Percy for originally bringing to my attention that a GMT could be converted into what I refer to as a Vanilla Pepsi, Vanilla Coke and Oreo Cookie, and alas a Cherry Vanilla.

Also, The base image for the watches above was taken from a photo Hannes took of his Vanilla Pepsi (not shown) and the following images below are all based on an image Percy took of his Vanilla Pepsi.

Introducing the Cherry Vanilla

The Oreo Cookie

The watch above is real, I just put on an aftermarket all red bezel (In Photoshop). The photo below is real and this watch exists and is owned by Percy, but for illustration purposes I changed the bezel to all black (in photoshop) for comparison sake. As much as I like the red bezel insert, I really, really, really like the black bezel insert on the Explorer. For some reason, it looks amazingly good looking to me.

What is strange in my mind is that some would call the watch below a Frankenwatch, but I think it looks even more like a Rolex than the standard non-rotating stainless steel bezel that comes standard on a white-dial Rolex Explorer II. I love the way the black hands and indices play off the black bezel.

One of the obvious questions, would be, if Rolex actually made this watch this way, what would they do with the black dial Explorer II. If they offered it with a black bezel it would look too much like a black bezel GMT. I would offer the black dial Explorer II with a cobalt blue bezel like, the shade of blue on the yellow gold and two-tone Submariner. Also, I methinks the red bezel would look stunning with black dial.

The Vanilla Coke

Next we see pictured below the Vanilla Coke. Once again, this watch is made 100% from genuine Rolex parts. I changed the bezel from Pepsi to Coke, but I have seen real examples of this watch with the Coke bezel. 

I can't speak for Rolex, and I am not affiliated with them in ANY way, but as I understand it, Rolex U.S.A. does not sell spare parts for your watch that would allow you to customize your Rolex like this, but in Europe Rolex will sell you the parts to customize your watch if you choose to do so. I also believe that if you customize your Rolex like this it might void the warranty.

The Vanilla Pepsi

Next we have the Vanilla Pepsi. This is a real photo of Percy's watch. In other words, nothing has been changed in photoshop. This is what Percy's Rolex GMT looks like after he modified it.

The photo below is of Percy's actual Oreo Cookie GMT/Explorer II. It has not been photoshoped in any way. In other words, it has the black bezel with black hands and indices, along with the white dial just as you see it.

The coolest thing is that if you want to make the investment in time and money, you could purchase a GMT, and the extra dial and bezel inserts and have one watch that could be customized into at least 8 different looking watches. Understand that as cool as this idea might be, it is not trivial to swap out parts and unless you really know what you are doing, would require a watchmaker to swap parts, not to mention, Rolex probably would not sanction any of this.

When I look at this second photo below of Percy's watch pictured below, it takes my breath away!!! It looks so crisp, cool, elegant and stylish to me!!! I love this color combination!!! Ironically, I nicknamed this color combination the Oreo Cookie which is kind of profound because I love Oreo Cookies!!!

The Real Oreo Cookie and Vanilla Pepsi...Kind of?

Did Rolex ever make an Oreo Cookie and Vanilla Pepsi? It is hard to say and only Rolex would know for certain, and it is possible they don't even know. There is a long standing rumor that says Rolex made a Vanilla Pepsi for the executives at Pan Am. The idea is that they designed the black dial GMT for the Pan American International Airlines pilots and rumor has it that they also made a white dial version for the Pan Am executives, but nobody knows for certain.

In the podcast interview I did with John Goldberger, he said he believes Rolex did make a Vanilla Pepsi, and he shows one from his personal collection in his book titled 100 Superlative Rolex Watches. John also says that the photo below is of a fake Vanilla Pepsi. He says it is fake because he says that Rolex never made a Reference 6542 GMT Vanilla Pepsi with a Bakelite bezel.

For the record, I am 100% apposed to ANY kind of counterfeit Rolex watches. However, I have no challenge with swapping Rolex parts, including dials, bezels and bands and hands. I also have no challenge with custom painting authentic Rolex dials or bezels. With the Cherry Vanilla mock-up I showed above, it has an all red GMT bezel which to the best of my knowledge Rolex has never made. 

There are people who sell aftermarket bezels that fit Rolex. Personally, I would NEVER purchase one. I would only ever purchase authentic Rolex parts, but, and here is the big but; I would purchase an aftermarket red bezel since Rolex does not make one, in order to make the Cherry Vanilla GMT.

As we saw yesterday with Bamford and Sons, they sell customized Rolex watches and I think this is a trend that will continue. I also believe it is 100% legal as long as you use authentic Rolex parts. When Rolex redesigns the Explorer and gives it a supercase and triplock crown, I hope they finally give it a rotatable bezel.

The GMT Master II has come with 3 interchangeable bezels for many years, and the with the introduction of the Rolex LV Submariner with the green bezel, Rolex now has two different color bezels for the Submariner that are interchangeable.

I think Rolex should embrace people changing up their watches. The bezel inserts for the now discontinues Rolex GMT are relatively inexpensive. As I understand it you can purchase an authentic Pepsi, Coke or Espresso bezel insert for around $75. One of the challenges with those bezel inserts is that over time, as they are exposed to UV light and things like salt-water, they can fade, and they can also get nicked or scratched.

With the advent of the new Supercase Rolex GMT Master is has a ceramic bezel that will never change color or fade. It is also as scratch-proof as the synthetic sapphire crystals Rolex uses which means it is probably completely scratch-proof. This is an un-confirmed number, but somebody mentioned it cost close to $1000 to replace a ceramic Rolex bezel. I believe that even if the bezels are $1000, Rolex would sell many of them in different colors if they offered them.