What’s in a name?
Rolex watches are known for their good looks, supreme precision, and luxurious appeal. Within the Rolex collector community, they’re also known for their quirky nicknames, especially vintage models. In fact, these alternate labels are so universally accepted that, in addition to being used among collectors, they are also commonly used by auction houses, media outlets, and well-respected Rolex reference book authors to talk about certain Rolex watches.
Rolex Nicknames To Remember
Some Rolex watches gained their nicknames because of famous people associated with them, such as the “Paul Newman”, “James Bond” or the “Jean-Claude Killy”, while others got them due to their distinct color, particular shape or design detail. Whether you’re a seasoned collector, or a newbie just joining the community, here are five nicknames for vintage Rolex watches that you will certainly come across.
Double Red Sea-Dweller
Rolex launched the Sea-Dweller 1665 in 1967 after a collaboration with COMEX to produce a diving watch that could withstand extreme depths. On the dial of the newly released ref. 1665, “Sea-Dweller” and “Submariner 2000” were written on two lines in red text, thereby, giving the piece its nickname, the Double Red Sea-Dweller, or DRSD for short.
A decade after the initial introduction of the Sea-Dweller 1665 in 1967, Rolex unveiled a new Sea-Dweller model in 1977, yet it kept the same reference number, ref. 1665. On the new 1977 Sea-Dweller, the characteristic red text on the dial had now been replaced with an all-white font across the four lines of text, explaining why the piece has gained the nickname the “Great White”.
In 1971, Rolex released the Explorer II 1655 and it is now commonly called the “Freccione”, which is Italian for “big arrow” in reference to the extra hour-hand with the large arrow tip. Interestingly, the Explorer II 1655 is also often named the “Steve McQueen” due to a rumor that the King of Cool himself wore one, however, that fact is highly disputed among Rolex collectors.
Originally a watch for Pan Am pilots to keep track of two time zones in the 1950s, the Rolex GMT-Master quickly became an extremely popular sports watch to a much wider audience. Much of the appeal of the GMT-Master is the two-toned bezel found on many of the models within the collection. The red and blue bezels are almost always referred to as the “Pepsi” bezel for its similarity to the logo of the popular soda drink. This name spun off others, such as the “Coke” for the red and black bezels, and the “Root Beer” for the brown and gold bezels. One of the many nicknames in a collection of GMT-Master watches.
Without a doubt, the most popular vintage sports watches among Rolex collectors are the Cosmograph Daytonas “Paul Newman” watches. When Rolex first unveiled the Daytonas with exotic dials, they were not well received at all, and it was only after Paul Newman was spotted wearing them in high profile images, as well as in his every day life, that their demand surged. And although Paul Newman was never an official Rolex ambassador, the Daytona “Paul Newman” nickname is now accepted as the official name.