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  • Writer's pictureLYN

WatchTheTalk #5: Things You Never Know About ROLEX GMT-Master & ROLEX GMT-Master II

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

On Today’s blog, we will write about one of the most popular Rolex model, which is the GMT-Master. The Rolex GMT Master has always been a popular watch since its debut in 1954. Many people nowadays called it Rolex Pepsi. Whenever people talked about Rolex Pepsi, the watch they are referring to is the Rolex GMT Master.

What is a Rolex Pepsi?

The first ever Rolex GMT-MASTER watch uses two colors for its bezel; blue and red. The red color denotes the day time, and the blue denotes the night time. The first Rolex GMT-Master bezel uses the bakelite material. A more familiar term which explains bakelite is plastic; it is the world’s first synthetic plastic. This combination of colors closely resemble the popular drink Pepsi, and thus it is famously called “Pepsi”.

Aviation watch

The Rolex GMT Master was initially developed in cooperation with Pan Am, who is one of the largest airline company at the time. In the 1940s and 50s, flying distances got longer and thus pilots travelled through multiple time zones. The pilots and the flight attendants faced a new problem, the jet-lag. Many studies showed that one way to fight the confusion caused by jet-lag was to have an instrument that could simultaneously display the home-time and the destination-time. Pan Am asked Rolex to develop a watch which could tell different times simultaneously.

The challenge Rolex face was to create a movement that is able to display 2 different time zones. The indication of the second time zone was achieved by an auxiliary hand with arrow-end and red-painted body, that rotates in 24 hours. To read the second time zone, it was necessary to rotate the bezel on the desired hour.

First Rolex GMT-MASTER - 6542

The first Rolex GMT-Master was introduced around 1954. It is first released with reference number 6542, and the movement could indicate the exact time simultaneously in 2 different time zones. With a 38 mm diameter, it was originally manufactured with a blue and red bakelite bezel, which is later replaced with a blue and red metal bezel.


In 1959, the GMT-Master with reference number 1675 is produced. Rolex modified the case diameter to a larger 40 millimeters. With the larger diameter, it becomes easier for the wearer to read the time. Additionally, Rolex added crown guards on the case to protect the crown from getting damage.

The GMT-Master 1675 was first produced with glossy gilt dial. However in the late 1960s, the dial was changed to a matte dial.

This watch is in production for 20 years, so the dials has changed many times, resulting in many different markings version of the dial.

This model is also available in 18 ct gold, also super popular until today among watch collectors. In 1971, Rolex creates the GMT-Master in stainless steel and yellow gold with reference number 1675. It is offered with either an Oyster bracelet or with a Jubilee bracelet, both in Rolesor, which means a combination of stainless steel and gold.


In 1979, Rolex launches the GMT-MASTER in stainless steel with reference number 16750. This watch comes with the quick date change feature. This updated feature helps a lot with changing the date, because before, we need to turn the crown for two full rotations to change the date. The watch is updated with two lock position at the crown. Now, we can easily set the date.

This release also added a new black color bezel to match with the black dial. For people who wanted a monochrom watch, they could opt for the black dial & black bezel GMT-Master. This watch is extremely rare.

Rolex also released the steel & gold model with reference number 16753, and the 18 ct gold model with reference number 16758.

One quick note is this model will be the final GMT-Master with acrylic crystal.


Rolex introduced us to the concept of an independent hour hand for a GMT-Master in 1983 with the release of a GMT-Master reference number 16760 which allows the wearer to know the time in 3 different time zones. Also known as the “Fat Lady”, it is po wered by a different type of movement, the 3085 movement.

With previous generations of the GMT-MASTER, the two hour hands were linked directly to each other, meaning they couldn’t be set separately. This new movement allowed the center hour hand to be set independently from the arrow-tipped 24-hour hand.

This watch also marks the shift of using sapphire crystal in replacement of the use of acrylic crystal. The sapphire crystal makes the GMT-MASTER scratch resistant. The iconic Cyclops at 3 o’clock remained to magnify the date window.

16700 & 16710

Completing the transition from GMT-MASTER to GMT-MASTER II, Rolex released 2 models in 1989: one for GMT-MASTER, and the other for GMT-MASTER II.

Both models feature a black color matte dial, with the use of 18k white gold around the luminous hour-markers. This was done to prevent tarnishing on the dial so that the dial can be preserved for as long as possible.

The bezels came in three diversity: Black, Black & Red, and Blue & Red. The two colored dial has been the hallmark of the GMT-MASTER since its introduction as they illustrate the day apart from the night. This was also the first time Rolex adopt the black and red color combination on the bi-directional bezel, and it quickly gained the nickname “Coke”, perfectly integrating itself with the other “soft-drink” bezels like “Pepsi” and “Root Beer”.

The final model for GMT-MASTER, bears the reference number 16700. The watch comes in stainless steel case, and for the bracelet, a buyer can choose to have either an oyster or jubilee bracelet. Offered at a lower cost alternative at that period, it looks nearly identical to the GMT-Master 16710. However, it resembles the original concept of GMT-MASTER. It comes with black bezel or the blue & red “pepsi” bezel.

We may encounter this watch with a “Coke” bezel. This bezel is obtainable from its cousin, the GMT-Master II 16710, who share the same bezel.

Meanwhile, the GMT-MASTER II came out with a full collection of the different materials. stainless steel watches (with reference number 16710), also Rolesor yellow gold and steel watches (with reference number 16713) and the full gold watches (with reference number 16718). They may also bear the reference number 16710T, 16713T and 16718T respectively. T stands for the French Trou (hole), which means it has a blind hole and the springbar cannot pierce through the holes.

The stainless steel 16710 comes with 3 different bezel colors: All Black, Blue & Red (Pepsi), or Black & Red (Coke).

The gold and steel combination watch 16713 comes with 2 different bezel colors: Black whose dial is also black, or Gold and Bronze bezel whose dial is brown. The Gold and Bronze version would famously be known as the “Root Beer”.

This is the final GMT-Master watches with Aluminium bezels. Rolex will change the material of the bezel insert to ceramic. When people talk about vintage Rolex Pepsi, the watches that we seen are considered vintage nowadays. The vintage watches are light and easy to wear on the hands, so it makes them very popular nowadays.

We have come to the end of our blog. Hopefully, you enjoy today's blog.


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