For many years there has been no question, let alone a contest as to what the King of steel & gold Rolex watches is. While the Daytona is undoubtedly the cornerstone of Rolex collections, it was the Rolex Submariner that outshone all the other bimetal options. With its delightful blue bezel framing a sunburst blue dial that burst into life under the rays of the sun, not only was the bluesy the King of steel & gold but, every year, without fail demand, for this bold bright timepiece would grow exponentially during the summer months. Since it’s release in 2018 however the popularity of the Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Root Beer’ has steadily grown, and now we are seeing a new challenger in town. Has the Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Root Beer’ become the new King of Steel & Gold Rolex watches. We think so!
When Rolex started to roll out the new GMT-Master II collection, including the upgraded calibre 3285 movement we were gifted with a nod to the old school. The steel GMT was reintroduced on a jubilee bracelet, some would say a more fitting style in keeping with the original purpose of serving airline crew. However, the steel & gold option took a different path, a path that has led it to challenge the bluesy’ s crown as the most sort after bimetal timepiece produced by Rolex. Despite all the Rolex Baselworld release predictions, no one saw the new pathway for steel & gold GMT-Master II. Discontinuation of the steel & yellow gold model saw a switch to a more subtle display of the luxurious allure of gold. The new GMT introduced of a new steel & everose gold model, Rolex’s distinctive rose gold offering giving a more pink and softer understated glow. Building on the ever popular combination of Chocolate and Everose, the GMT-Master II features a half chocolate bezel, immediately prompting the rebirth of the ‘Root Beer’ nickname.
Whilst never an official term, the nickname ‘Root Beer’ is synonymous with a much earlier Rolex GMT-Master first released in the 1960’s. The original Root Beer was produced in steel & yellow gold and featured a brown dial and a two-tone brown & cream bezel, from which the ‘Root Beer’ moniker was born, named after the famous American soda. There have been several variations of the famous GMT-Master ‘Root Beer’ including versions in both steel & gold and full yellow gold, full brown bezels and bracelets including Oyster, jubilee as well as a brown leather. It’s been a long time since retired and the modern ‘Root Beer’ becomes the first of its namesake to be produced with the new ceramic bezel. The reintroduction of a ‘Root Beer’ bezel has certainly been a popular move with both steel & Everose, and full Everose versions attracting a premium to retail price.
Since its release the two-tone Rolex watch of choice has certainly been the GMT-Master II ‘Root Beer’, but the GMT collection now seems to be complete with all current models containing the new calibre 3285 movement. The Submariner collection has also recently made the move to the new improved calibre 3235 movement, but the steel & gold model has seen very little change stylistically. As well as the improved power reserve bringing it in line with the GMT-Master II, the watch itself benefits from a new slightly larger 41mm case and has a subtle change in text colouring on the dial. The new generation of Rolex Submariners has, as expected, stayed very close to line towed by its predecessor. When dealing with one of the most iconic Rolex collections, it’s predictable that Rolex wouldn’t take too many risks with a cornerstone of the brand heritage. Playing it safe also poses it’s own challenges, and raises the question as to whether the new steel & gold Rolex Submariner can mount a serious enough challenge to the to topple the Rolex GMT-Master ‘Root Beer’ from its current position to retake its crown as the King of bimetal Rolex watches.