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The Perfect Red, White, and Blue Rolex for July Fourth

July 4, 2017

BY Paul Altieri


With summer officially in full swing, a holiday that we all look forward to here at Bob’s is Fourth of July! In addition to the fireworks, parades, and parties, it’s also a great day to show off some red, white, and blue. While we love a flag shirt as much as the next guy, we’ve got an even better way to wear the patriotic pigments. It’s the Rolex GMT-Master Pepsi of course!

Vintage or Modern GMT-Master

Celebrate the 4th by showing your colors on your watch!

When the Rolex GMT-Master made its debut in 1955, it sported the iconic red and blue bezel that is now so closely associated with the collection. As with most things Rolex, this particular bezel picked up its own nickname—the Pepsi—since it shared the same red, white, and blue colors of the soda logo. Since its inception, there have been several GMT-Master Pepsi models.

So, whether you opt for vintage or modern, GMT-Master I or II, steel or gold, it’s got to be a “Pepsi” for Independence Day. So let’s take a look at our choices.

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GMT-Master I or GMT-Master II?

While the inaugural GMT-Master came equipped with the red and blue “Pepsi” bi-color bezel, future models were also available with other bezel colors. However, since we’re looking for the Pepsi version, the options are as follows.

Firstly, there’s the GMT-Master ref. 6254, which is, of course, the very first reference. On early models, its Pepsi bezel was actually made from Bakelite, but due to its fragility, it was quickly replaced with aluminum. Secondly, another red, white, and blue bezel can be found on the famous GMT-Master ref. 1675. With a production run of over 20 years, there are plenty of GMT-Master ref. 1675 Pepsi models to choose from. Yet another Pepsi GMT-Master is the ref. 16750, which offers the quickset function. And finally, the last GMT-Master is the ref. 16700 with sapphire crystal.

Vintage or Modern GMT-Master

Do you prefer to wear Vintage or Modern GMT-Master watches on this special day?

In addition to the GMT-Master models, there are two GMT-Master II Pepsi models. There’s the steel GMT-Master II ref. 16710 and the white gold GMT-Master ref. 116719.

What’s the difference between the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II you ask? There are several, but the main one is how the pair of hour hands work. On the GMT-Master II, the main hour hand and the 24-hour hand can be set independently from each other. This means that while the GMT-Master can only indicate two time zones (by using the bezel), the GMT-Master II can indicate three time zones (home time, local time, and a third zone using the bezel).

It’s worth noting that aside from the digits portion of the reference numbers, there are sometimes letters too. If the reference number includes “BLRO” (for example ref. 116719BLRO) it means it comes with blue and red bezel since “BL” is for “Bleu” (French for blue) and “RO” is for “Rouge” (French for red).

Vintage or Modern GMT-Master?

Right off the bat, you probably already know that there’s no current steel version of the Pepsi GMT-Master II. There’s only a white gold version, which we’ll go into detail below. Therefore, for a stainless steel GMT-Master with a red and blue bezel, it has to be from a discontinued reference number. There are the vintage models—which have to be more than 30 years old to qualify as vintage—in addition to more modern ones.

So if we take a look at production dates, here a quick cheat sheet on vintage vs. discontinued vs. current GMT-Master Pepsi models.

Model Production Dates Classification
GMT-Master ref. 6542 1954-1959 Vintage
GMT-Master ref. 1675 1959-1980 Vintage
GMT-Master ref. 16750 1981-1988 Vintage
GMT-Master ref. 16700 1988-1999 Discontinued
GMT-Master II ref. 16710 1989-2007 Discontinued
GMT-Master II ref. 116719 2014 – present Current

Steel or Gold GMT-Master?

Speak to a Rolex GMT-Master fan, and they’ll probably tell you that they’re patiently waiting for a new Rolex GMT-Master II with a blue and red Cerachrom bezel in stainless steel. That’s because today, the only option for a ceramic blue and red bezel is on the 18k white gold GMT-Master II ref. 116719. And with a retail price of close to $40,000, it’s out of reach for most.

Vintage or Modern GMT-Master

Opt for the anniversary Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116718 if you’re into the luxurious iteration of the GMT-Master II.

So if you’re looking for an ultra-luxurious version of the GMT-Master II Pepsi, you have a gold version. If however, you want the more rugged and affordable stainless steel version, then you’ll have to pick one from the Rolex archives. There is the current stainless steel GMT-Master II ref. 116710 with a ceramic bezel, but bezel color options only include all black or blue and black.

Vintage or Modern GMT-Master

The GMT-Master with a Pepsi dial is the perfect watch for the 4th.

And there you have it. For a red, white, and blue Rolex, the choice of GMT-Master Pepsi models is a varied one. From everyone here at Bob’s Watches, we’d like to wish you and your family a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Which Rolex Pepsi is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below.





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