In 2012 Rolex gave us the all new Rolex Sky-Dweller collection. In 2017, the stainless steel Rolex Daytona with ceramic bezel was born. This year Rolex have treated us to potentially the hottest new release in recent history, Baselworld 2018 has certainly become the year of the Rolex Pepsi.
The Rolex GMT-Master II 126710 BLRO to give it it’s full title, or ‘Pepsi’ for short has been a long awaited and maybe somewhat unexpected release from Rolex. Formed from 904L grade stainless steel which Rolex now refer to as Oystersteel (a more marketing friendly term perhaps), the new Rolex Pepsi is built in a 40mm Oyster case which has been slightly refined compared to previous versions. The new Rolex Pepsi provides all the existing features of the familiar Rolex GMT-Master II collection including time, date, seconds hand and water resistance to 100m and of course, there is also the familiar GMT hand and the bidirectional 24 hour rotatable bezel that used together provide the ability to read the time in 3 different timezones.
Although there have been a number of changes to this new member of the GMT-Master II collection, for me there are 3 key differences between the new Rolex Pepsi and previous GMT’s.
Rolex Pepsi Bezel
The new Rolex GMT-Master II 126710 BLRO’s influences are deeply seated in the most iconic chapters of Rolex history. The first, most obvious difference is the signature of the iconic Rolex GMT design the two colour blue red one piece ceramic bezel. Originally when Rolex replaced the metal insert bezel with a one piece ceramic it wasn’t possible to produce a two colour one piece ceramic, but over time Rolex continued to innovate within their engineering and design teams until the impossible became possible. With the initial breakthrough, Rolex created a process to produce the two colour bezel, but only with dark ceramic colours so the GMT-Master II 116710 BLNR ‘Batman’ was born. Rolex further developed their engineering capabilities until, in 2014 we were presented with the white gold 116719 BLRO adorning the blue red Rolex Pepsi bezel we so craved. Our understanding is that the process to produce a two colour red blue bezel came with significant expense which led to the initial presentation being allied to a precious metal GMT, but now we have been blessed with single piece ceramic red blue GMT ‘Pepsi’ bezel upon an Oystersteel timepiece.
The blue, red bezel design isn’t purely an aesthetic design feature, originally designed for international jet setters and particularly Pan Am airline pilots in the 1950’s, the bezel is read in conjunction with the GMT hand to tell ‘Home Time’ using the 24hr numerals. Quite simply, as a broad rule, if the GMT hand points to the blue area on the bezel, it’s night-time in your home city, if the GMT hand points to the red section, it’s daytime.
The second of the key differences is also immediately obvious and has created much debate among Rolex aficionados. The new Oystersteel Rolex Pepsi is exclusively available on a Jubilee bracelet with no option available for its Oyster bracelet counterpart . Why? In my opinion this is a deliberate strategy to create differentiation from both the 116710 BLNR blue black, and the 116719 BLRO white gold Pepsi. The reason for creating differentiation? Again, in my opinion, firstly it’s to avoid upsetting those who have already purchased the white gold model at significant expense, and secondly to avoid a detrimental effect on sales of the Oysersteel BLNR.
The Jubilee bracelet is fastened using the Oyster steel clasp, and this continues to benefit from the Easylink system with the option of a 5mm adjustment within the clasp, without the need for any tooling. The jubilee bracelet gives a less sporty design, it’s a bit more intricate and that serves the purpose of the watch as a traveler's companion rather than pure sports watch. It may possibly have more appeal to the older generation with a more refined classic look.
Onto the third key difference and this isn’t something we’re going to see by looking at the watch. The movement has been upgraded to a calibre 3285 as do the full range of new GMT’s. The new movement is still certified to the same standards of accuracy within a tolerance level of +/- 2 seconds per day, but the big benefit is the improved power reserve. The previous 3186 caliber has a power reserve of 48 hours, so if you’re one of these people that wears your watch all week, takes it off Friday and either doesn’t wear it or wears a different watch at the weekend then you’d have spent every Monday morning resetting your watch. The new 3285 caliber features a 70 hr power reserve so that Monday morning rest is now a thing of the past.
The Rolex GMT-Master II 126710 ‘Pepsi’ is one of 3 new additions to the GMT collection. Rolex have also introduced a 126711 CHNR in steel and Everose gold version as well as a 126715CHNR full Everose gold version, both with chocolate and black bezels on Oyster bracelets.
The Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLRO Osyersteel Pepsi has a UK retail price of £6,800, but if you’re not on a waiting list already you’re unlikely to be able to get on one, and even if you are you may have a very long wait!! Immensely popular, with very few pieces of this watch currently available in the UK, we’ve witnessed other dealers in the secondary market advertising this watch for sale in excess of triple the original retail list price. Those that have managed to acquire an early allocation are sure to benefit from a watch that is functionally useful, aesthetically beautiful and retains an incredible value compared to the original retail price, a true win, win, win situation.