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Everything you need to know about the Rolex Pepsi

The Rolex Pepsi is an iconic watch

Rolex Pepsi watch
Rolex / Rolex

Although everyone knows Pepsi as a refreshing soda drink, Rolex and watch lovers know it as one of the most iconic wristwatches on the market. While Rolex Pepsi might sound like it, this nickname doesn’t indicate a collaboration between the luxury watch brand and the soft soda company. This nickname, given to the Rolex GMT-Master wristwatch, is simply an ode to the iconic colors of the company that highlight one of Rolex’s most identifiable pieces. With a bi-colored bezel, the Rolex Pepsi is a small pop of color for a company otherwise known for its sleek and subtle colorways. When expanding your watch collection or opting for a reliable luxury piece, there’s no doubt that the Rolex Pepsi should rank high on your list. However, before setting off for your piece of luxury, there’s plenty to know about the Rolex Pepsi. 

The history behind the Rolex “Pepsi”

Rolex Pepsi Watch
Rolex / Rolex

Like most of Rolex’s designs, the Pepsi watch has an interesting history, making this piece an iconic must-have. First launched in 1954, the original Rolex GMT-Master (with the reference number 6542) was marketed towards pilots, as the watch’s ability to track two time zones was a handy resource for those piloting long-haul flights. At the time, the longer flight times meant that pilots could use Pepsi’s dual-time function to track the time at home and destination. Unlike today’s version, the initial version was released with a blue and red Bakelite bezel. The usage of Bakelite wasn’t for long, as this material tended to crack and was proven to be a radiation hazard. Towards the end of the production of the Rolex Pepsi 6542, the Bakelite was replaced with an aluminum bezel insert. 

The subsequent version of the GMT-Master, Ref. 1675, had a much longer production period from 1959 to 1980. During this time, the replacement of the Bakelite bezel with aluminum saw plenty of improvement on this front and the inclusion of new crown guards and a larger 40mm case size. During this time, there were other variations of the Rolex GMT-Master besides the Pepsi, including the “Pink Panther” and the “Concorde.” These variations included a fuschia colorway that replaced Pepsi’s iconic red and an all-brown bezel. After 1675, Rolex released two more versions of the GMT-Master, the 16750 and 16700, before discontinuing the entire GMT-Master line in favor of the GMT-Master II. The last of the GMT-Master was considered the most affordable variation of the line, as it could no longer compete with GMT-Master II’s upgrades.

Rolex GMT-Master II

Rolex Pepsi Watch
Rolex / Rolex

After the run of the GMT-Master, Rolex released the GMT-Master II 16760, which was meant to signify a new age of modern watches that included plenty of improvements to its predecessors. With the new Caliber 3085, the 16760 watch allowed users to adjust the time by hour increments manually without affecting the seconds or minutes. This subtle change lets users have much more control over their usage and introduced the first Rolex watch with white gold dial details, which would become standard for all Rolex watches. The following watch in the GMT-Master II, the 16710, saw these changes and brought the watch into its longest production period which ran from 1989-2007. During this time, we saw new colorways on the watch, which included the rival “Coke” watch with a red and black bezel. As well, the 16710 watch came in a stainless steel 40mm case with sapphire crystals and glossy dials. During this time, the watch also saw plenty of lume updates along with the caliber 3185 or caliber 3186. 

After the production of the Rolex GMT-Master II 16710, the Pepsi bezel was absent for seven years until it was reintroduced in 2014 with plenty of new characteristics. One of the major upgrades was the transition from aluminum to Rolex’s ceramic alloy, Cerachrom. The GMT-Master II Ref. 116719BLRO saw the introduction of a Chromalight lume for better legibility in the dark with a blue glow that lasts up to eight hours. 

Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126719BLRO

Rolex Pepsi Watch
Rolex / Rolex

Today’s version of the Rolex Pepsi is far from the original piece we once saw. With a white gold 40mm case, Cerachrome Pepsi bezel, and oyster bracelet. The current Pepsi watch is a sleeker and more statement design. With the upgrade to the Caliber 3285 automatic movement, you can get a more straightforward design that’s thinner and doesn’t lug around much weight. At the beginning of its 2018 production, the Pepsi watch came fitted with a matching blue dial that seemed to flow nicely with the bezel. Nowadays, you can also find the dial in a meteorite tone, which gives the white gold an even more luxurious vibe. 

A staple for many years, the Rolex GMT-Master II, or the Rolex Pepsi, is a true testament to luxury watch design. A sleek piece that complements any collection, it’s a rare design that truly stands the test of time. While Rolex will continue to improve on its GMT-Master II collection, the Rolex Pepsi remains a safe yet stylish bet for anyone looking to get ahold of a piece of history. 

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Leslie Leon
Leslie is a Los Angeles-based writer and content creator. She is always researching and finding the latest fashion trends…
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