When it comes to watch collecting, the “Rolex Root Beer” nickname refers specifically to the two-tone GMT-Master and GMT-Master II watches that feature brown on their bezel inserts. The very first Rolex Root Beer watch appeared at the beginning of the 1970s; however, Rolex now produces a version of the GMT-Master II that many collectors refer to by the same “Root Beer” nickname. With that in mind, the vintage Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 “Root Beer” is a significantly different watch than the modern Root Beer GMT-Master II ref. 126711CHNR that Rolex sells today, and nearly everything about these two models is different, despite the fact that they are both part of the same core family of Rolex watches.
Below we are breaking down a complete comparison between the vintage and modern Rolex Root Beer GMT watches, and highlighting the key differences between them, both inside and out.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Vintage Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 – “Root Beer”
- 2 Modern Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126711CHNR – “Root Beer”
- 3 Case and Materials: Modern vs. Vintage Rolex GMT Root Beer
- 4 Bezel Differences: Root Beer GMT Watches
- 5 Brown vs. Black Dials: Rolex Root Beer GMT Watches
- 6 Internal Movements: Vintage Cal. 1575 vs. Modern Cal. 3285
Vintage Rolex GMT-Master ref. 1675 – “Root Beer”
Root Beer GMT-Master 1675 Key Features
- Reference Number: 1675/3
- Year of Introduction: 1970
- Case Size: 40mm
- Materials: Stainless Steel and Yellow Gold
- Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, GMT Functionality
- Bezel: Bidirectional, Brown and Gold Aluminum Insert w/ 24-Hour Scale
- Dial: Brown w/ Luminous Hour Markers
- Luminous Material: Tritium
- Crown Type: Twinlock
- Crystal: Acrylic (Flat w/ Cyclops Lens)
- Movement: Rolex Caliber 1575
- Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee Bracelet
Modern Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126711CHNR – “Root Beer”
Root Beer GMT-Master II 126711CHNR Key Features
- Reference Number: 126711CHNR
- Year of Introduction: 2018
- Case Size: 40mm
- Materials: Stainless Steel and Yellow Gold
- Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, GMT Functionality, Independently Adjustable Hour Hands
- Bezel: Bidirectional, Black and Brown Cerachrom Insert w/ 24-Hour Scale
- Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers
- Luminous Material: Chromalight
- Crown Type: Triplock
- Crystal: Sapphire (Flat w/ Cyclops Lens)
- Movement: Rolex Caliber 3285
- Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet
Case and Materials: Modern vs. Vintage Rolex GMT Root Beer
While the cases of both the vintage and modern Rolex Root Beer GMT watches measure 40mm in diameter, that is more-or-less where the similarities end. The case of the modern Rolex GMT-Master II 126711CHNR is significantly more chunky and angular in its overall appearance than the vintage GMT-Master 1675 and this is most noticeable when looking at the lugs and crown-guards on the two watches. Additionally, while the case of the vintage Root Beer GMT is fitted with a fairly small Twinlock crown and topped off with classic acrylic crystal, the modern Root Beer GMT-Master II features a larger Triplock crown and a crystal that is made from scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire.
The total effect of the upscaled proportions is a watch that looks and feels significantly larger than its vintage predecessor, despite technically having the same official case diameter. However, arguably almost as noticeable as the updated case proportions is the fact that the vintage and modern Rolex GMT Root Beer watches feature different colors of gold for their accenting components. Although both models are two-tone watches, the vintage Rolex GMT-Master 1675 features yellow gold parts, while the modern Rolex GMT-Master II 126711CHNR has its accenting components crafted from Rolex’s proprietary 18k pink gold alloy known as Everose gold.
Bezel Differences: Root Beer GMT Watches
Similar to the cases on the vintage vs. modern Root Beer Rolex GMT watches, the bezels fitted to the two models are also drastically different versions of the same core concept. Both bezels feature bidirectional motion and are fitted with split-color inserts that feature 24-hour scales, but that is the extent of the similarities.
The bezel fitted to the vintage Root Beer GMT-Master 1675 is the older friction-fit style, meaning that it does not click or ratchet while turning. Conversely, the bezel fitted to the modern Root Beer GMT-Master II 126711CHNR offers a 24-click motion to correspond with the scale on its insert. Additionally, the vintage Root Beer bezel features an outer ring made from yellow gold and an insert made from brown and gold anodized aluminum, while the modern Root Beer bezel has its outer ring in Everose gold and receives an insert made from black and brown Cerachrom, which is Rolex’s proprietary ceramic material that is virtually impervious to scratching and fading.
Brown vs. Black Dials: Rolex Root Beer GMT Watches
Another major difference between the vintage and modern Rolex Root Beer GMT watches is the type of dial that is fitted to each of the two models. The vintage Root Beer GMT-Master 1675 features a brown “Nipple Dial” with applied gold makers that are filled with Tritium luminous material. While Rolex also made a two-tone GMT-Master 1675 with a black dial and bezel, all of the vintage ref. 1675 Root Beer watches are fitted with dials that are brown in color.
Meanwhile, the dial fitted to the modern Rolex Root Beer GMT-Master II ref. 126711CHNR features a gloss black surface with applied Everose gold hour markers that are filled with Chromalight luminous material. While the shape of the hour markers is quite a bit different on these two different Rolex Root Beer dials, the difference in color is easily the most significant change, and the black dial fitted to the GMT-Master II 126711CHNR provides it with a noticeably more modern overall appearance.
Internal Movements: Vintage Cal. 1575 vs. Modern Cal. 3285
Internally, the vintage and modern Rolex Root Beer GMT watches are powered by significantly different movements. Both are self-winding and chronometer-certified, and both are entirely mechanical in-house creations produced by Rolex. However, with nearly half a century between the development of these two movements, there are a number of notable differences.
The vintage Root Beer ref. 1675 runs on the Rolex Caliber 1575, which features four centrally-mounted hands and a date display, but does not offer any type of quickset adjustment for the date. The two hour hands are permanently synchronized, meaning that rotating the external bezel is the only way to use its GMT functionality, and the Cal. 1575 offers users an approximate power reserve of 42 hours.
On the other hand, the modern Root Beer GMT-Master II ref. 126711CHNR is powered by the Rolex Caliber 3285, which also features four centrally-mounted hands and a date display, but allows the local 12-hour hand to be jumped backwards or forwards in one-hour increments. The increased functionality means that the modern Root Beer GMT is now capable of displaying up to three time zones simultaneously, and since it features Rolex’s Chronergy escapement, the Cal. 3285 is able to offer an increased power reserve of approximately 70 hours.