The Rolex GMT Master has always been an essential timepiece for Rolex and the famous bi-colored bezel in red and blue is strongly associated with the company, commonly called “Pepsi”. As a matter of fact, the GMT- Master is one of the most iconic timepieces in the world.
In 2007 the GMT Master II reference 16710 was discontinued and was replaced by the maxi-case GMT Master II reference 116710LN which, for the first time had a bezel insert made in ceramic for the stainless steel GMT Master II. However, this meant that the bi-colored bezel no longer existed, but instead only a full-black bezel insert.
Perhaps was the reason for this that the technique to develop a ceramic bezel insert with two colors was too difficult at the time. The process of combining two different colors in ceramic and creating a razor-sharp line between them is a technique that is exceptionally difficult.
In 2013 Rolex introduced, for the first time, a bi-colored bezel insert for the GMT Master II. After many years of research and development, Rolex had mastered the art.
However, the colors were a surprise for many as the color combination previously hadn’t existed. Instead of coming up with new colors for the GMT, Rolex decided to use two already familiar colors but instead decided to match them together.
The new Rolex GMT Master II with a bi-colored bezel insert which was blue and black and had the reference number 116710BLNR but quickly was given the nickname “Batman”. It wasn’t until the year after, in 2014, which Rolex for the first time since 2007 brought back the “Pepsi” insert for the GMT Master II, the catch was that this watch, for the first time ever in the GMT Master line-up, was made in 18K solid white gold which was mass-produced.
The only Rolex GMT Master II made in white gold prior was the reference 116769TBR said to only been made in 10 pieces worldwide. The GMT Master II reference 116719BLRO with an oyster bracelet with polished center links was beautiful and finally, after 8 years, the blue/red color combination was available for the GMT Master II once again.
The first dial for the re-introduced GMT Master II “Pepsi” was black with white gold hour markers, as seen above. It was also the only available dial for the model until 2018. In 2018 Rolex decided to bring back the “Pepsi” version of the GMT Master II in stainless steel reference 126710BLRO now featuring a jubilee bracelet, which it only was sold with.
However, the dilemma was that the stainless steel version “Pepsi” was introduced with a black dial, and because of this, Rolex decided to change the white gold “Pepsi” dial to matte blue and encouraged all owners of a Rolex GMT Master II in white gold with a black dial to change for a matte blue, free of charge, in case they wanted at a Rolex Authorized Service Center. This was to satisfy customers who had bought white gold GMT-Masters who bought the watch for prestige, and not have them be mixed up with the much-more affordable steel versions. In other words, to differentiate the GMT-Masters in white gold from the GMT-Masters in steel with the Pepsi bezel.
This is a very generous gesture of Rolex and of course, was appealing to a lot of owners with the white gold “Pepsi” because, for the untrained eye, looked just like a stainless steel version. The only difference was the bracelet between the two. With this said, Rolex stuck to the blue dial for every GMT Master II white gold “Pepsi” produced ever after, which makes the black dial rather unique and sought after for collectors -although, of course, there’s just something special about blue dials.
The only way to distinguish a white gold “Pepsi” reference 116719BLRO black dial from a stainless steel “Pepsi” is really the crown placed between “Swiss” and “Made”.