6 Key Models of the Rolex Pepsi

The Rolex Pepsi GMT is one of the most recognizable watches on the planet. Launched in 1954, it was designed for pilots in the age of transcontinental flights.

The characteristic blue and red bezel was said to be inspired by the colors of Pan American Airways, who commissioned the watch from Rolex. For watch enthusiasts, these colors represent the difference between day and night.

The Rolex Pepsi went through numerous updates through the years, with all of them bearing the striking and now iconic colorway. Let’s fly through key models in the six-decade history of the Rolex Pepsi.

 

6542
Rolex GMT Master Vintage Red and Blue Pepsi Bezel 6542 (photo: Phillips)

 

ref 6542 (1954 – 1959)

The Rolex GMT-Master line all began with a request from Pan Am Airways, for a watch that could display a second time zone. As airlines began crossing several time zones, it became crucial for pilots to know the time for both departure and destination airports.

This relationship bore fruit in 1954, when the first Rolex GMT-Master was launched. The first ever GMT-Master model was the ref 6524, which came in a blue and red bezel made of Bakelite, a synthetic resin. It also had no crown guards.

Two years into production, Rolex switched from Bakelite to anodized metal bezels because the former was prone to cracking. Thus, ref 6542 models with Bakelite models are exceedingly rare.

The GMT-Master 6542 also earned the nickname “Pussy Galore” among fans, having been worn by actress Honor Blackman in the 1964 Bond film, Goldfinger.

 

1675
Rolex GMT Master Vintage Red and Blue Pepsi Bezel Mens Watch 1675

 

ref 1675 (1959 – 1980)

In 1959, Rolex produced the second model of the collection, ref 1675. Produced until 1980, this edition has one of the longest production runs in Rolex history. It is relatively easier to find a ref 1675 in pristine condition.

There were several updates introduced during its run. Until the late 1960s, the extra hour hand had a small arrow, which was replaced by a bigger red arrowhead throughout the 1970s. Models produced until 1963-64 featured chapter rings and pointed crown guards, which were then changed into rounded crown guards that are more like the ones we find in current production. Early models also had gilt dials, which were later replaced by matte dials around 1966.

The ref 1675 was also the first Rolex sports watch made available with both the Jubilee and Oyster bracelets.

 

16750
Rolex GMT Master Vintage Red and Blue Pepsi Bezel Mens Watch 16750

 

ref 16750 (1981 – 1988)

After two decades, Rolex replaced the 1675 with the 16750. With an upgrade to the caliber 3075, it featured a quickset date, which allows the date to be set independently from the hour hand. It also introduced the hacking feature, wherein the seconds hand stops when the crown is pulled out, allowing the wearer to set a more precise time.

Water resistance was also improved. While all the four-digit references were water resistant to 50 meters (165 ft), the 16750 doubled that rating. The 16750 is considered a transitional model to the Rolex GMT-Master II; and was in production for seven years.

 

16710
Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi Red and Blue Bezel Steel Mens Watch 16710

 

ref 16700 / 16710 (1988 – 2007)

Rolex introduced the GMT-Master II in 1982. Its very first reference, the 16760 only came in the black and red “Coke” version, with a thicker case that is known in watch circles as the “Fat Lady”.

A fascinating aspect is even with the GMT-Master II, Rolex continued to produce the GMT-Master with the ref 16700 until 1999. The 16700 used the caliber 3175, Rolex’s last “fixed” GMT movement.

It was in the second edition of the GMT-Master II, the ref 16710, that a Pepsi colorway was introduced. The thick case of the 16760 was dispensed by a sleeker case, made possible by the new 3185 movement. The succeeding calibers of the GMT-Master II allowed the GMT and hour hands to be set independently, therefore showing a third time zone.

Until 1997, these watches featured tritium dials, Luminova from 1998 to 1999 and then Super-Luminova from 2000 to 2007.

 

116719
Rolex GMT Master II White Gold Pepsi Bezel Mens Watch 116719 (photo: Rolex)

 

ref 116719 BLRO (2014 – 2018)

In 2005, Rolex celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rolex GMT-Master II by introducing the beefier “Super Case” and the Cerachrom ceramic bezel. The bezel was first made in all-black, followed by the blue and black “Batman”.

Finally, in 2014, the ceramic bezel was introduced in the iconic Pepsi colorway, much to the delight of fans. However, as Rolex does, it was not completely what people expected. This new Pepsi model came in 18k white gold, rather than stainless steel. Rumor was it that this was done to keep the demand low, as the Pepsi ceramic bezel were too difficult to produce at the time.

Moreover, its Twinlock crown was replaced with the Triplock system, which features three sealed zones for more robustness. Lastly, this reference was upgraded with the Caliber 3186. With a blue Parachrom hairspring, it can better withstand temperature variations and higher magnetic fields.

 

126710
Rolex GMT Master II Pepsi Bezel Jubilee Steel Mens Watch 126710

 

ref 126710 BLRO (2018 – )

Finally, in 2018, Rolex introduced the long-awaited modern Rolex Pepsi in stainless steel. This brought back the Pepsi to its sport watch roots, while also upgrading the movement to Caliber 3285. This new generation movement provides 70 hours of power reserve (from 50) and a precision of +2 / -2 seconds per day.

The ref 126710 is virtually identical to its white gold counterpart, except that Rolex chose to differentiate it by putting it on a Jubilee bracelet. It’s also important to note that the Jubilee bracelet on this model is not the standard Jubilee but a new reference created especially for the 126710.

This also marked a new system of rules for the GMT-Master II, as Rolex announced in 2019 that all succeeding stainless steel versions of the collection will be equipped with Jubilee bracelets.

 


 

These models represent significant milestones in Rolex’s history. What the future holds for the Rolex Pepsi is anybody’s guess, but that’s what makes Rolex collecting fun and exciting. Explore our selection of Rolex GMT-Master watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.

 

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