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04/27/2022
 7 minutes

What Your Rolex GMT-Master Says About You

By Sebastian Swart
06 HEADER 2
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Pepsi, Coke, Root Beer, and Batman: Like so many Rolex models, GMT-Masters have been christened with nicknames by the watch community. The GMT-Master’s design has remained essentially unchanged over the decades, with the bezel color being the sole major element distinguishing the different models. As a wearer of a Rolex GMT-Master, you most likely decided upon your specific color combo because that’s the one that caught your eye. But what about other subconscious influences? How do they impact your horological purchasing decisions, and what might they say about you as a person? Are you perhaps a stuffy bourgeois, a non-conformist, or maybe even a bold watch-toting daredevil? 

Let’s take a not-so-serious look at different GMT-Master wearers. 

The GMT-Master Root Beer: A Matter of Taste 

If you’ve got a Rolex GMT-Master “Root Beer” on your wrist, you’re probably over 50 years of age, and may have chosen this model for the following reasons: 

The 1970s and 80s – a time when watches didn’t yet matter to you – were a Rolex heyday. It seemed like just about every Joe Schmo was rocking a Rolex back then. There were also the Wall Street gurus who were in the thick of the 1980s financial boom, only to sometimes see things come crashing down, losing everything in the process: their house, Cadillac, family… but not their Rolex.  

A brown dial, gold hands and indices, and a bezel and bracelet to match: You took one look at the absurdly colored two-tone watch on the wrist of that bus driver and were hooked. Back then, the “Inter-what?” still didn’t exist, so off to the library you went to do some serious research, while also learning as much as you could about Rolexes out in the wild. 

Your hard work quickly paid off: The watch you were lusting after turned out to be a Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16753 “Root Beer.” Who doesn’t recall summers enjoying that syrupy blast of refreshment, or for an extra treat, dousing their vanilla ice cream with it for a delicious root beer float? No wonder this GMT-Master and bezel color combination took on this moniker.  

Your investigation also revealed that your favorite Hollywood star Clint Eastwood is a big fan of the GMT-Master Root Beer, and even wore it in three of his films. Things were starting to fall into place: a misguided color combination reminiscent of a super-sugary beverage, a favorite of Clint Eastwood… Well, that must mean you’re just as tough as the characters he’s played throughout his career, placing you in a league of your own above the other GMT-Master wearers we’ll talk about below. 

The GMT-Master Pepsi and Coke: The Cola Wars

Our soft drink odyssey takes us from the North American root beer market to the two global soda pop titans Pepsi and Coke. From the northern reaches of Canada, to the tip of Chile, and from Norway to Australia, who doesn’t love the sugary cola kick these two brands have delivered for generations? Equally loved, of course, are the two Rolex GMT-Master Pepsi (red and blue) and Coke (black and red) models. The sad part, however, is that one is destined to choose between a selection of two entirely equal options. Who doesn’t know the agony of deciding between Nike or Adidas, Microsoft or Apple, Led Zeppelin or AC/DC? As with sports apparel, operating systems, or iconic rock bands, so it (kind of) is with the GMT-Master. 

Remember the so-called cola wars between Coke and Pepsi? Starting in the late 1970s, and waged well into the 1980s, Pepsi challenged the reigning king of cola with slick TV advertising, which Coke answered with its own one-two marketing counterpunch. It was a creative, economic clash of the ages, which continues to this day. So, which cola brand (and GMT-Master bezel color combination) do you prefer? 

The Pepsi Type

As a Rolex GMT-Master Pepsi wearer, do you feel like the challenger or champion? That depends on how you look at it. The bezel on the first GMT-Master that Rolex introduced during its partnership with the American airline Pan-Am was red and blue. If this is the reason you wear a GMT-Master Pepsi, it could be a sign of conformity, tradition, and even a touch of petty bourgeoisie on your part. You play it smart and close to the vest. You’re the “I drive a Cadillac, because it’s made in America by American workers” type. 

On the other hand, it was Pepsi who took on the mighty Coca-Cola to establish itself squarely on the soft drink market. From this perspective, you’re a downright rebel. Might you also like the Pepsi because your idols Daniel Craig, Sylvester Stallone, and most of all, Tom Selleck like it too? The GMT-Master Pepsi ref. 16750 was, after all, what super-cool detective Thomas Magnum wore (as an accessory to his Hawaiian shirt) on the iconic 1980s TV series Magnum P.I. Now, without the mustache, Detroit Tigers baseball cap, or hot red Ferrari 308, you may never come across as cool as Magnum, but boy does that GMT-Master Pepsi look great. 

Magnum's choice: the Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16750
Magnum’s choice: the Rolex GMT-Master ref. 16750

The Coke Type

Got a Rolex GMT-Master Coke on your wrist? That might indicate you’re a late bloomer. Rolex introduced the first version of this model with a black and red bezel in 1983. This ref. 16760 had a thicker case, earning it the nickname “Fat Lady.” If you’ve selected this model, that makes you a bit of a misfit in the Rolex GMT universe. With your watch, you’re making the statement that Coke won the cola wars against Pepsi long ago. Perhaps you even imagine yourself as Marlon Brando, who also owned a Rolex GMT-Master Coke. Otherwise, the GMT-Master Coke is a watch for the more boring types among us. 

The non-conformist’s GMT-Master Coke, ref. 16760, aka the “Fat Lady”

The GMT-Master Batman: For the Dark Knight 

Wearing a Rolex GMT-Master Batman makes one thing clear: You’re a crusader, and a caped one at that. You call Gotham City your home, and spend your time saving the world.  

When the Rolex GMT-Master ref. 116710BLNR with its black and blue bezel was released in 2013, the fantasy within you of being Bruce Wayne was awakened. There you were, six feet, two inches tall; weighing 210 pounds; black hair and blue eyes; hailing from New Jersey; CEO by day; and playboy bachelor by night (when not donning the Batman outfit). 

Yup, that $25,000 watch on your wrist is nicknamed after none other than Batman, aka the Caped Crusader, aka Bruce Wayne, protector of the fictitious Gotham City. Any time a precarious situation arises, it’s Wayne who slips into his bat costume, rendering him nearly undefeatable. Over the decades, Batman has appeared primarily in blue and black, so it’s no surprise that the Rolex GMT-Master models ref. 116710BLNR and 126710BLNR carry the Batman nickname. 

Now, if you weren’t aware of all of this, no problem; it just means that you’re the type who cares less about where a nickname comes from, and much more about how your timepiece is going to increase in value. When you bought your GMT-Master, you also probably had an eye out for which celebrities also wear a Batman: singer-songwriter John Mayer, tennis icon Roger Federer, and Croatian soccer star Luka Modrić. Sure, you possess little to no musical or athletic talent, but that black and blue bezel on your GMT-Master looks fantastic anyway. 

Fit for Gotham City's hero: the Rolex GMT-Master II Batman ref. 126710BLNR
Fit for Gotham City’s hero: the Rolex GMT-Master II Batman ref. 126710BLNR

The GMT-Master LHD: Not Just for Left-Handed Green Lantern Fans

Have you fallen in love with the newly-released Rolex GMT-Master ref. 126720VTNR? Then you might very well be left-handed, and a fan of the comic hero Green Lantern, who by the way is a righty. With this new GMT-Master, the technology is the same, but optically, everything’s been shifted to the other side. Just how did this Rolex mutation occur? 

Something interesting occurred in April 2020. The chronically bored Rolex designers stumbled upon a copy of the scientific journal Psychological Bulletin and discovered something shocking: A worldwide study found that a whopping 10.6% of people on the planet are left-handed. The shrills of “Eureka!” were heard from miles away. The question for Rolex became: How can we be really innovative and target this left-handed market? Well, with arguably the most successful Rolex model ever now featuring a freaky design like this, along with a sharp black and green bezel color combination, there was no question that the legions of Rolex disciples would embark on doing what they do best: searching for just the right new watch nickname. Sound familiar to you? 

The problem was, a lot of the soda pop and Marvel superhero names were already taken, so this was, of course, going to require something from the DC universe. Rolex gazed deep into their crystal ball: If we put a black and green bezel on our left-handed model, the fans will christen it the “Green Lantern.” So far, it’s looking like the name will stick. It’s now up to you to decide exactly which Green Lantern you want to be. Hal Jordan? Alan Scott? Fun fact, and speaking of left-handers: Green Lantern’s archnemesis Sinestro, clothed in black and yellow, wears his Power Ring on his left hand. 

Summary

Root Beer, Pepsi, Coke, Batman, Green Lantern: As a Rolex GMT-Master wearer, you certainly have great, bold taste in watches. Each of these models are on the same level, and each delivers its own special charm. No matter what color, the GMT-Master has firmly established itself in the mainstream market, as evidenced by the sometimes absurdly high asking prices you’ll find for it, even for pieces in non-working condition. With the Green Lantern ref. 126720VTNR, Rolex even showed a touch of design brazenness. It’s probably irrelevant to them how many of the world’s 10.6% of left-handers will purchase this model, because there will undoubtedly be plenty of watch lovers in line to get one – right-handers included. 


About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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