Fasten your seatbelts for the story of the Rolex GMT-Master. Aviation company Pan-Am requested Rolex to create a wristwatch that would display multiple time-zones simultaneously as their flights got longer and they had to cross multiple time zones. Rolex came up with the GMT-Master (‘GMT’ stands for ‘Greenwich Mean Time’) in 1954. The watch features a date-function and an extra hour hand (with triangle) that points out the second time zone on the bi-directional turning, 24-hour bezel.
Still linked to aviation and although meant for professional use, it enjoys a much wider fan base ever since it first saw light. Over the years it underwent some changes and there are so many wonderful variations of this all-time Rolex classic. Some GMT’s are great as a single purchase, others are a wonderful addition to any collection and some of them can be considered as the crowning glory.
The red/ blue bezel inserts on the steel GMT’s are referred to as ‘Pepsi bezels’ as it assembles the same colours, but in fact Rolex chose this combination because of the Pan-Am colours. The heritage of the Pepsi bezel starts in 1959, when the rare bakelite bezels were used. Up until 2007 aluminium Pepsi bezels were used (optional, next to an all-black or black/red a.k.a ‘Coke bezel’). After being discontinued for 7 years, Rolex re-launched the beloved ‘Pepsi’, yet this time made out of cerachrom and only available on the white-gold model. In 2018 Basel World, Rolex introduced the stainless steel Pepsi with Jubilee bracelet.