Rolex brought back the popular “Pepsi” bezel
Instantaneously recognizable, the GMT-Master II from Rolex is one of the brand’s hallmark watches. First conceived after a request from PanAm airlines to produce a watch to help their pilots keep track of both their home and local time as they flew across several time zones, Rolex launched the GMT-Master in the mid 1950s. The innovative watch was equipped with a fourth hand and a revolving outer bezel with a 24-hour scale to easily set dual time zones simultaneously. Plus, the two-toned bezel distinguished between day and night hours.
The Most Epic Refill: GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO
Today’s version of that original watch is the GMT-Master II and the latest model to join the family was unveiled in 2014, the ref. 116719 BLRO. Crafted in solid 18k white gold, the latest GMT-Master II revived the popular “Pepsi” bezel. Although almost always referred to as the Pepsi bezel in reference to the logo colors of the popular beverage, it is also (more correctly) called the “Pan Am” bezel in reference to the first GMT-Master Rolex made for the airline.
At face value the red and blue bezel may look the same as the Pepsi bezels of yore, yet it is fundamentally different in that it’s constructed in ceramic, or Cerachrom in Rolex-speak. This may seem like a minor detail, but it isn’t. It was only a year before the release of the ref. 116719 BLRO, in 2013, that Rolex gave the world the first two-toned ceramic bezel in black and blue, a process they actually patented. Following up that feat, Rolex undertook the development of creating a Cerachrom bezel insert to include the color red, which is notoriously difficult.
The 18k white gold 40mm Oyster case of the ref. 116719 BLRO holds within it the Rolex Caliber 3186, a perpetual, self-winding mechanical movement with GMT function. The 24-hour arrow tipped hand, along with the bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel allows the user to actually keep track of three time zones, a very practical function out in the real world.
The Caliber 3186 is equipped with a Rolex patented blue Parachrom hairspring made from an alloy of niobium and zirconium. The Parachrom hairspring is impervious to temperature swings and is up to 10 times more resistant to shocks than a traditional hairspring.
The flat three-piece links Oyster bracelet of the GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO is of course also made in 18k white gold and is outfitted with the Oysterlock safety clasp and Easylink system, a Rolex invention allowing the wearer to extend the bracelet by up to 5mm for optimal comfort.
Inspired by the original GMT-Master, yet equipped with modern cutting-edge technology, the Rolex GMT-Master II BLRO offers the best of past and present.