Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Return of the Pepsi GMT-Master

No Coke!?!! 

Pepsi, Pepsi, Pepsi!!!!!

The Return of the Pepsi GMT-Master 

It seems like it's been an eternity since Rolex discontinued making their stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master with the Red & Blue 'Pepsi' bezel insert. Rolex stopped making it in 2008 just after they introduced the updated stainless super-case GMT in 2007 which was the first all stainless steel Rolex model to feature a ceramic bezel. When I began publishing Jake's Rolex World a decade ago, I continually complained about how discontinuing the Pepsi GMT-Master was a huge mistake. I agued the Pepsi GMT-Master was so iconic and outstanding that it was terrible they got rid of it. What was Rolex thinking?
All-New 2018 Pepsi GMT-Master (Reference 126710BLRO) Pictured Above

Just to be more specific, I remember when I was a young man, back in the 1980s, I would walk into a Rolex Authorized Dealership, and I would look at the smorgasbord of Rolex watches under the glass counter, you would see a sea of stainless steel watches with black and sliver bezels, or two tone, or all gold Rolex watches, and then there would be this one outstanding Pepsi GMT-Master model with its cobalt blue and ruby red bezel—contrasting heavily like the North Star with all the rest of the Rolex models. 

The Pepsi, with its ruby red and cobalt blue bezel was so American Flag patch on an Apollo NASA Astronaut looking. So Evil Knievel, So Ralph Lauren, So I Spy, So U.S. Air Force Test Pilot, So Star Trek, So Dizzy Gillespie, So Stan Barrett, So Magnum PI, So SPORTY... 

The photo below shows a vintage Rolex GMT-Master. Notice it had a much narrower and overall smaller winding crown and crown guards than a Submariner. The new GMT-Master II (pictured above) has a much larger winding crown, along with bigger crown guards, which I believe is the same we would find on the current Submariner. In other words, the GMT-Master II has finally achieved masculinity parity with the Submariner.

Most importantly, with the Pepsi GMT, Rolex had a distinct model that could not be copied, without being copied. Sure Seiko had done a weird diver watch with a black rubber strap, and other brands had tried to copy Rolex by having a red and blue bezel, but none came close to the authenticity of the Pepsi GMT-Master. 

Also, so many famous explorers had worn the Pepsi GMT-Master while achieving the unachievable. How could Rolex let go of such and iconic watch? I kept pleading with Rolex and even suggested they just make the current model with an aluminum Pepsi bezel insert which would have given it a more vintage look—all to no avail, but that all changed today with the return of the Pepsi GMT-Master!!!

Years later Rolex introduced a white gold GMT-Master (pictured below) which came standard with a red and blue 'Pepsi' bezel. The challenge is that it cost $35,000. Rolex said at the time that making the cobalt blue and red bezel in ceramic was technically very, very challenging. I remember somebody saying that it cost Rolex more money to make the red and blue bezel, than it cost to make the actual watch.

In the recent GQ Style photos above and below we see legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist, John Mayer sporting his white gold Pepsi GMT-Master on an Oyster Bracelet.

It turns out Rolex was able to figure out how to make the ceramic bezel insert much less expensively, as the new GMT-Master will retail for around $9,000 USD. Rolex elaborates on the evolution of their skillset in working with ceramics:

Mastering the use of ceramic has enabled Rolex to equip its watches with cutting-edge ceramic bezel inserts and monobloc bezels. This expertise, the result of applied internal research and the creation of a manufacturing process unique to Rolex, heralded the beginning of a new era for the brand.

Thanks to the technical properties of the ceramic it is possible to create particularly durable components that are virtually scratchproof and unaffected by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Whether on a Cosmograph Daytona, Sea-Dweller, Rolex Deepsea, Submariner, Submariner Date, GMT-Master II, Yacht-Master 37, Yacht-Master 40 or Yacht-Master II, these ceramic elements make a strong impact on the watches’ aesthetic appeal and identities, all while improving their longevity.

The all-new Rolex GMT-Master is still 40MM, and only comes with an updated Rolex Jubilee bracelet with a classic Rolex Flip-Lock clasp, which Rolex refers to as a Professional bracelet, just like the Rolex Oyster bracelet. In other words, Rolex is not offering the new stainless steel Pepsi GMT-Master on an Oyster Bracelet—only on a special Jubilee bracelet. 

This is likely so customers will be able to differentiate between the white gold and stainless steel versions. Rolex also created new nomenclature by referring to the stainless steel as "OYSTERSTEEL". This quirky naming strategy reminds me of how in the 1960s Rolex referred to their stainless steel watches as being made from "Swedish Stainless Steel". I wonder if OYSTERSTEEL exclusively come from Sweden ;-0

This new Pepsi also features a significantly updated new movement named the Calibre 3285. From the photos, the blue on the bezel does not appear to be the same at the previous generation Pepsi, which was a rich, popping cobalt blue. This new blue looks like darker 'Smurf' grey blue.

Notice how on the dial, just below the 6 O'Clock marker it says "SWISS MADE", and there is a miniature Rolex crown logo, which is a new detail I have never seen before on a Rolex watch. It is kind of cool as it reads, "Swiss Rolex Made", if you think about it :-)

If you feel a certain Deja Vu when you look at this new Pepsi GMT on a Jubilee bracelet it may be because you have seen it before on Jake's Rolex World.

The photo below shows the artwork cover of Dizzy Gillespie's seminal 1961 record album titled "An Electrifying Evening With The Dizzy Gillespie Quintet." Notice Dizzy is wearing his stainless steel Pepsi GMT on Jubilee bracelet on the album cover. The iconic photo of Dizzy wearing his Pepsi GMT-Master on a Jubilee bracelet that was taken 57 years ago stands testament to how timeless this updated Rolex GMT-Master is. I am officially giving this new GMT a nickname of "The Dizzy Pepsi GMT", which kind of rhymes with DeepSea (Dip See :-)

Dustin Hoffman 

Pepsi GMT-Master 

Another famous and iconic actor who wore a stainless steel Pepsi GMT-Master on a Jubilee bracelet is Dustin Hoffman as seen in the photos below:

Kramer vs. Kramer

Dustin Hoffman costarred with Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer in 1979, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best supporting Actress. Dustin Hoffman is pictured below sporting his Pepsi Rolex GMT Master from the movie.

A Tudor Pepsi!?!!

Rolex owns the Tudor Watch company, and today at Basel World they announced a 41MM Pepsi, Black Bay GMT, but instead of having a ceramic bezel insert like the Pepsi Rolex GMT-Master it has an aluminum bezel insert similar to the last generation Rolex 'Pepsi' GMT-Master. In many ways I prefer an aluminum bezel insert. For one, it cost about a tenth of the money to replace if it gets damaged. 

Also, an aluminum bezel will fade and develop a unique patina over time, and it reflects light much differently than a ceramic bezel. The aluminum bezels get their red and blue look from anodizing, which gives it a metallic/shiny look you can't really achieve with ceramic—at least I have never seen a ceramic bezel that can achieve this metallic look. The cobalt blue bezel color looks so rich and deep on aluminum, but in ceramic it looks flat. I could not help but notice the blue color on the Tudor Pepsi GMT-Master appears to be have a matt finish, and the color is not Cobalt Blue, like on the original Rolex Pepsi, but a dull grey-blue color, that pops a lot less.

I am reserving judgement until I see it in person, but that is what I expect. Also, you can't crack an aluminum bezel insert.

The all-new Tudor GMT is a definite vintage inspired watch as it features a riveted Oyster bracelet and lacks crown guards.

Return of Mocha & Root Beer

Rolex also brought back updated versions of the Mocha GMT-Master as well as the Root Beer GMT, bu these new models incorporate the color black in to the bezel, which offers an interesting color combination as seen in the two photos below: