This week my wife – you know she who wears an Omega Seamaster Professional 300 Chronometer Midsize – resides half way on the other side of the globe. What else could I wear than a watch indicating the time simultaniously in two time zones? In my case this will be a Rolex GMT-Master II.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

My favorite Rolex GMT-Master II, the version with Pepsi bezel

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

For me, a true GMT-Master has a Pepsi bezel. Black is for Submariners and black and dark red (Coke) is just because Rolex needed something else. I know, I know, the latter was introduced with the introduction of the GMT-Master II while the Pepsi bezel originally was for the GMT-Master (I). Still I prefer Pepsi, most probably as it is how I think of a GMT-Master when I close my eyes.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

Discoloration of the bezel

We all probably know that the red color of the Pepsi bezel tends to discolor over time. Just add sunlight and I’ve seen them become purple, or even almost totally faded. This discoloration has a charm. Just like worn-out jeans it gives the watch a nonchalant look and feel. A look indicating that a watch has seen the world and is experienced. Just like its owner likes to be seen 😉

Of course going to the beach, every day, for a year or two is the best solution to get a naturally discolored red part of your Pespsi bezel. However not convenient for all of us. And of course we don’t even want to think about artificialy discoloring a bezel.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

The red part of the Pepsi bezel being faded fresh from the factory

An alternative to time

There’s a nice alternative however. And that’s the original Pepsi bezels which were supplied by Rolex in the years between let’s say 2001 and early 2002. K or Y serial numbers for the specialists amongst us. The red color of these Pepsi bezels seems to be already slightly faded when they came fresh from the factory. It was the time of the lug holes in combination with a bracelet with solid end-links as well.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

Two time zones at a glance, 9 past 10 local and 9 past three in the afternoon in the second time zone

Not many GMT-Master II’s with Pepsi from these years are around however. The GMT-Master II at that time was standard supplied with a red and black bezel, or with a black bezel. The GMT-Master (I) wasn’t available any more, and so the Pepsi bezel wasn’t all too common.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

The rather flimsy clasp of the Oyster bracelet used at that time.

Replacing the faded bezel

Besides that often people replaced the Pepsi bezel from these watches over time. They got remarks from bystanders that their bezel looked old and discolored. Something you don’t want to hear a few years after buying your new high-end time piece. A new fresh red and blue looking new bezel insert was cheap and quickly replaced. Or replaced all together by one with a different color scheme.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

Discolored on purpose?

I don’t know if the faded color of red in these years was done by Rolex on purpose. Or that it just was a batch of bezels which were slightly off-color. Compared to jeans again, it was quite common to offer pre-washed denim in order to get that nonchalant feeling without having to wear it for years. I do know that I like it very much though. Just like pre-washed jeans which fit like you wore them for ever the first time you put them on.

Rolex GMT-Master II 16710

Prices, prices, prices

In 2001/2 the price of this Rolex GMT-Master-II with reference 16710 was € 3.826,=. As a full set and in good condition these watches currently fetch up to € 6.000,=. Current stainless steel models of the Rolex GMT-Master II (now reference 116710, sporting an updated movement, a different bracelet and clasp, and a ceramic bezel) cost just below € 8.000,=. More information can be found at www.rolex.com.

  • Menno Verschuur

    Pepsi bezel, SEL and lug holes… my favorite combo (and is just like my own 16710!)