As an avid watch collector and horology enthusiast, you’ve likely come across the legendary Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master during your adventures discovering important timepieces. This iconic watch represents the pinnacle of sporty elegance and timeless style. Originally designed in the 1950s for Pan Am pilots, the GMT-Master allows you to keep track of two time zones at once with its signature blue and red bezel. For over 60 years, the Pepsi GMT-Master has remained largely unchanged – a testament to its ingenious design and enduring popularity. If you’re looking to add a classic, versatile, and valuable Rolex to your collection, the Pepsi GMT-Master is an obvious choice worth exploring. Join us as we dive into the history, features, and varieties of this historic watch.
The History of the Iconic Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master
The Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master has a rich history dating back to 1954. Originally designed as a collaboration with Pan Am Airways, the GMT-Master was created to display two time zones at once for intercontinental airline pilots.
The GMT-Master featured a bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated bezel and a fourth hand that revolved once every 24 hours. The blue and red “Pepsi” bezel was introduced in 1954 to improve the visibility and legibility of the 24-hour markings. This iconic, colorful bezel has since become synonymous with the GMT-Master.
Over the years, Rolex continued to improve the GMT-Master with a hacking second-hand, quickset date, sapphire crystal, and new calibers. In 1983, the reference 16750 introduced the glossy lacquered dial and white gold indices still found on today’s models.
The reference 16760 “Fat Lady” debuted a thicker case and sapphire crystal in 1984. In 2007, Rolex unveiled the reference 116710 with a ceramic bezel, providing a scratch-resistant and fade-proof alternative to the aluminum insert. This model also featured the caliber 3186 movement with Parachrom hairspring, offering greater precision, shock resistance, and magnetic resistance.
Today, the reference 126710 is the latest evolution of this legendary watch. While the classic styling remains largely unchanged, Rolex continues to refine and improve the GMT-Master with its signature obsession for perfection. This dedication to quality and heritage is why the Pepsi GMT-Master remains an iconic symbol of worldly sophistication and good taste.
Key Features of the Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master
The Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master is an iconic timepiece known for its striking blue and red bezel. This colorful combination of colors on the bezel has led to the nickname “Pepsi” among watch enthusiasts and collectors.
Released in 1955, the original GMT-Master was designed for Pan American World Airways to aid pilots in keeping track of two different time zones. This functionality comes from the GMT-Master’s GMT hand, which circles the dial once every 24 hours and can be set to any time zone. The red and blue bezel, which rotates in either direction, is used to indicate daytime versus nighttime.
The Pepsi GMT-Master (Reference 16700) contains several distinguishing features:
- Bi-directional rotatable bezel with 24-hour graduated Cerachrom inserts in red and blue. The bezel can track a second-time zone by rotating it to align the GMT hand with the desired time.
- GMT hand which completes one revolution every 24 hours. This hand is set independently and can track a separate time zone.
- Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. This high-quality crystal protects the dial and provides excellent visibility.
- Water resistant to 100 meters. While not a dedicated dive watch, the GMT-Master can withstand splashes and brief submersions.
- Self-winding caliber 3175 movement. This COSC-certified chronometer movement powers the timekeeping functions and GMT complication.
The Pepsi GMT-Master is an iconic watch that represents Rolex’s dedication to durability, precision, and worldly functionality. For global travelers and watch collectors alike, the Pepsi GMT-Master remains a highly coveted timepiece.
Why the Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master Is a Collector’s Dream
The Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master is a collector’s dream for several reasons.
Scarcity and Discontinuation
Rolex discontinued the original Pepsi GMT-Master, reference 1675, in the late 1970s. Due to its age and scarcity, pristine examples of this vintage model are highly sought after by collectors and can sell for over $30,000 USD at auction. Even pre-owned models in good working condition are difficult to find and command a premium.
The Pepsi GMT-Master’s red and blue ceramic bezel has become an iconic symbol of Rolex design. The vibrant “Pepsi” colors represent day and night, evoking a spirit of global travel and adventure. This striking and instantly recognizable aesthetic contributes to its popularity among collectors.
As with all Rolex timepieces, the Pepsi GMT-Master demonstrates the brand’s unparalleled quality and craftsmanship. Its self-winding mechanical movement, originally the Caliber 1575, provides exceptional accuracy and reliability. Rolex’s dedication to excellence in engineering and materials produces a watch built to last a lifetime with proper care and service.
Due to the Pepsi GMT-Master’s prestige, scarcity, and high demand, it has proven to be an excellent investment. Well-maintained examples, especially of the original 1675 model, have steadily increased in value over time at a rate that outpaces inflation. For the avid collector looking to diversify into luxury timepieces, the Pepsi GMT-Master offers the potential for strong returns over both the short and long term.
Owning a Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master, this legendary and highly coveted timepiece, is a privilege reserved only for the most dedicated and discerning collectors. For those able to obtain one, it is sure to remain a treasured possession for generations to come.
While the Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master is not for everyone, it remains an iconic timepiece with an illustrious history. As you’ve discovered, the watch has cemented its place in popular culture and inspired many other brands. Whether as an investment, status symbol, or mechanical marvel, the Rolex Pepsi continues to capture the imagination of watch enthusiasts around the world. As time goes on, this legendary model is sure to only gain more prestige and nostalgic appeal. Though expensive, the Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master is a trophy for the serious watch collector and a symbol of the pinnacle of mechanical watchmaking. For those seeking a high-end watch with real pedigree, the Pepsi GMT-Master should be at the top of your list.