Wrist Game or Crying Shame: The Modern Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer
Hello holiday shoppers and welcome to another installment of Wrist Game or Crying Shame. This week we take a look at the modern Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer. But first…
It was just last week where we took a look at a ’90s Omega Seamaster 120M in 18 karat gold. Clearly, this affordable looker still has the Midas touch because it shimmered its way to a 70% Wrist Game win. Folks, slowly but surely I will convert you to the splendor of gold. However, if you’re not ready to go all the way, the horological industry has a compromise for you. The Europeans call it “bi-color” while us Freedom Fries refer to it as “two-tone.” Whichever descriptor you choose, this is a nice way to get a bit of everything. Think of it as the surf and turf of watches or perhaps the big value combo meal at your local fast-food merchant. A question, of course, is whether today’s modern Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer serves up any of that affordable advantage.
The holidays will soon be here — break out that wallet
Aside from the obvious comments about 2020, I prefer to look on the brighter side of things. Firstly, those of us with live-in families have likely spent more time with each other than in recent history. Secondly, if you like the stock market, it has remained incredibly resilient — especially if you’re one of those so-called “FAANG” investors. Lastly, if you’ve kept your job then you’ve hopefully pocketed a few ducats due to a lack of vacation expenses. All of these things plus a slew of upcoming COVID vaccines are enough to make one feel footloose and fancy-free when it comes to the ways of the wallet. And with the holidays around the corner, treating one’s self with something mildly outlandish is a tempting thing. For some reason, when I think of “over the top”, I think of
Stallone Rolex. And what better way to celebrate than a brand new GMT-Master II Root Beer?
The Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer
The current GMT-Master II reference 126711CHNR) debuted at Baselworld back in 2018. I don’t think Rolex sips much soda, so they officially refer to this watch as the “Steel and Everose Gold” edition. We, on the other hand, like to pop a top and quickly got on board with the fan-created “Root Beer” mantle. The name, if you’re unfamiliar, stems from the use of a brown and black bisected 24-hour rotating bezel. Interestingly, it had been over a decade since the last Root Beer was on sale.
The most interesting Rolex in the catalog
Now, the two-tone Root Beer made a splash when it arrived, but it had to share the stage with some other big operators within the family. A solid Everose Root Beer and the runaway hit steel Pepsi showed that year as well. Still, RJ declared the bi-color Root Beer as his favorite of the trio in this article. As the owner of both all-gold 16758 and mixed 16753 vintage Root Beer models, I was pretty excited about these non-steel releases. They bring back some lovely colors along with modern build quality and materials. What I don’t like about the two-tone is the use of an Oyster bracelet instead of a Jubilee. And regarding the black dial, it does look sharp but I’d prefer a shade of brown that would somehow work with the bezel. Still, I think this is — bold claim coming — probably the most interesting Rolex on sale today.
I’m a known critic of the thick-lugged maxi cases currently favored by the Coronet, yet this Root Beer still manages to exude a level of sporty elegance. Credit the use of rose gold as a bit of a softener perhaps. Case in point, I do recall flying last year and seeing a well-dressed (read: blazer but not a suit) gent lifting his bag to the overhead. He was sporting one of these new Root Beer models along with a leather jacket and it worked. It also had a way of turning me into a proponent of this watch instead of a casual bystander.
A tough find but not that bad
The newest GMT-Master II Root Beer, like all modern sporty Rolex models, is not simple to buy at your local authorized dealer. However, this €13,500 is less hot than the steel versions. Secondary market prices are anywhere from €2-3K above list whereas the beloved Pepsi sells in the same range. In my view, you’d be a straight-up nincompoop (my daughter’s current favorite word) to buy all steel when you could add a little dazzle to your wrist for the same cost. However, the market is the market and people seem to want steel.
Just like every other modern impossible-to-find Rolex, there are loads of GMT-Master II Root Beer models on the secondary market at above retail prices. There are less expensive versions than today’s €15,828 example (via Chrono24 and pics from seller US Multi Trading Inc), but this one is seemingly brand new and with all of its wares. Now, let’s come back to the holiday season in order to make a decision. I don’t know about you, but I’d classify this Root Beer as a watch that you’d likely have to buy for yourself. I’m not sure why, but perhaps the slight bling factor makes it a bit of a guilty pleasure buy. Regardless of whether you’re treating yourself or someone is offering to pick up the tab, it’s decision time.