“Every Rolex tells a story”, so goes one of their campaigns. But some Rolexes tell more than others – because of their place in history or in pop culture.
Some of these watches have earned themselves nicknames because of these associations. And a number have been so commonplace among collectors and watch enthusiasts alike that they can be considered “official” even without appearing in the Rolex catalog.
Here are some of the most popular Rolex watch nicknames, and how they came about:
Introduced in 1956, the Rolex Day-Date was nicknamed the “President” after the company gave one to Dwight Eisenhower. It has since graced the wrists of other Presidents such as Ford, Johnson, Nixon, Kennedy, Reagan, and more.
Sean Connery wore the Submariner ref. 6538 in the James Bond films Dr. No, From Russia with Love,Goldfinger, and Thunderball. The watch is characterized by its oversized crown and lack of crown guards, and was worn by Connery on a striped textile strap.
The watch got its nickname after American actor Steve McQueen whose celebrity Rolex used to boost the sales of this slightly obscure watch in the ’70s. Designed for speleologists, its unique feature is its large, bright orange 24-hour hand.
In the ’60s, Rolex produced an “exotic dial” for their Daytona watches, characterized by the art deco font, and 15/30/45/60 numerals on the 9 o’clock subdials. The legendary actor and race car driver was so often seen wearing the model, that it is now more commonly referred to in watch circles as the Paul Newman.
In 2012, director James Cameron worked with Rolex and other companies to design a submersible vessel called the Deepsea Challenger. He piloted it himself and dove 11,000 meters into the Pacific Ocean to record the experience for a new film. The watch was created to commemorate the expedition’s success.
Introduced in 1955, the GMT-Master II was created as a pilot’s watch, and made with a bi-color bezel to help distinguish between day and night hours. The original model had a blue and red bezel, made to match Pan-Am airline’s company colors, and which closely resembled the logo of the popular soda.
In the early ’60s, Rolex introduced a two-tone version of the GMT-Master ref 1657/3 in steel and yellow gold. To complement this mix, they used a brown and gold bezel insert, giving the watch its rootbeer hue. In the ’80s, Rolex launched the GMT-Master II 16753 which also used the rootbeer bezel.
Rolex first used the black and red bezel combination on the first GMT-Master II model. The watch quickly became known as the “Coke” in reference to the soda brand’s colors and in keeping with the GMT-Master II’s soda nickname theme.
Perhaps the most popular GMT-Master II model offered today, the Batman features a black and blue combination on the Cerachrome ceramic bezel. What makes it special is that when Rolex first introduced the ceramic bezel, it was deemed impossible to produce it in two tones, but they were eventually able to overcome that with the Batman.
The Hulk refers to the Green-dial, green-Cerachrom-bezel Submariner launched in 2010, obviously named after the green Marvel Comics fictional hero. It marks the first time that Rolex used any other color other than black and blue on a bezel.