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Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel”

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Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel”  Specifications

Brand, Seller, or Collection Name Rolex
Model number GMT Master II
Part Number 116719BLRO
Item Shape Round
Display Type Analog
Clasp Fold-over-clasp-with-safety
Case material White gold
Case diameter 40 millimeters
Band Material White gold
Band length Men’s Standard
Band Color Silver
Dial color Blue
Calendar Date
Special features GMT/World Time, Date
Movement Swiss Automatic

Rolex surprised everyone with the new Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” in steel, with a jubilee bracelet, no less.  Rolex began the development of the GMT at the behest of PanAm Airlines in the early half of the ’50s. The dawn of the aviation age was rapidly making the world a much smaller place, and our ability to traverse time zones with ease brought a need to simultaneously track time in two places at once. That of home, and that of the destination. Rolex was happy to oblige and developed a 24 hour hand to work alongside the regular 12-hour hand. The long red hand with small triangle tip could not be set independently, but a couple with a rotating bezel that was split into two 12 hour halves served to display Greenwich Mean Time (GMT, against which pilots could track a second-time zone. The 2 halves of the bezel were blue and red, and quickly took on the designation of “Pepsi” bezel thanks to the similarity to the soda brands colors.

The Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” is a beautiful watch. Taken on its own, the steel BLRO has a wealth of detail to appreciate, from the clasp and bracelet to the bezel and dial. The jubilee bracelet may seem an odd choice, but there is a precedent there. The jubilee bracelet made its first appearance on the GMT with the ref. 1675, and has been an available option for the watch up until 2007. While you’d typically see them on precious metal and two-toned cases, they have had long-standing relationships with the GMT family. Somewhat ironically, the white gold GMT with “Pepsi” bezel is available exclusively on an oyster bracelet, so in order to keep some distance between the two, the steel is only available on the jubilee. In fact, the steel BLRO uses a different lug and pin configuration to make swapping a more difficult proposition.

The Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” bracelet

The jubilee bracelet is a superb bit of engineering. The fit finish are second to none and simply melts over the wrist. Rolex has been doing jubilee bracelet since 1945, and it is clear all that know-how made its way into this execution. The Oysterlock clasp is a marked improvement over the clasp designs of part references, which typically feature a single piece of stamped steel that hinges. The new design feels incredibly well-engineered and operates with ease. It is easily one of the strongest components of the watch as a whole.

The Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” dial, case, and features

The cases of 6-digit reference GMTs are more substantial than earlier examples, featuring thicker lugs and case walls. it’s a heft you notice on the wrist, but it falls short of distracting in the manner many other large watches suffer from. It is a trend Rolex has stuck with for their sport models, but it’s worth noting that this year, at the very same Baselworld they introduced the steel BLRO, they also introduced a slight revision to the Sea-Dweller, which toned down the lugs to a degree. It remains to be seen if they will continue to dual the heft back down in the years to come, but this could be a slight tip of the hand.

The bezel on Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” has received some criticism for their take on the “Pepsi” colorway in ceramic, in large part due to the bottom, or Rouge half. Older bezel inserts have a very crisp contrast between the blue and the red, with the red being vibrant and crisp. In ceramic, the red leans into a fuchsia territory, taking on notes of purple and pink. Pictures exaggerate this imbalance, as I did not find it distracting in the least during daily wear. It catches the light beautifully, and at a glance holds the spirit of older examples.

The Cerachrom is certainly unique, appearing glossy and almost milky in some light, and the only real issue with it is that, unlike previous references, it will almost surely stay exactly the same over its lifespan. The “Pepsi” bezel GMT is famous for its character with age, as no two examples seem to take on aging quite the same. Some fade a lot, some a little, some take on seemingly new hues in surprising and unpredictable ways. I’d argue this fact has given the GMT the reputation it so enjoys today.

The Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” movement

One of the biggest updates to the newest steel on Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” is one you can’t see, the entirely new Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” developed and built 3285. Like all Rolex movements, it is a certified chronometer, meaning it won’t lose more than 4 seconds or gain more than 6 seconds on a daily average. We can thank the additional of the Rolex’s Chronergy escapement for much of this, as it boosts efficiently by 15% over the outgoing escapement. They’ve accomplished this by reconsidering each component in the power delivery and regulation systems, going so far as to skeletonize the escape wheel.

The Chronergy escapement was introduced in the caliber 3255 at use within the Day-Date, and its clever take on the Swiss lever escapement is now making its way into more calibers, no surprise there. What makes it so clever? The new system strips many of the inefficiencies that plague traditional level escapements, by providing direct impulse of the balance by the escape wheel, and relying on the lever system as a sort of safety net, meaning less overall friction and more stability and efficiency in how the power is being managed and doled out. Rolex’s Parachrom hairspring takes center stage within. IT all adds up to remarkable accuracy in practice and a guaranteed power reserve of 70 hours.

The Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” verdict

The new Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” will be many different things to many different people, all of whom have their own expectations and history with the GMT family. This is not going to be a watch for the vintage collector and traditionalists, if you don’t think Rolex has a made a proper watch since 1985, this is not going to change your mind. On the other hand, you are tempted by some of the newer hardware coming out of the Rolex in recent years.

The Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel” understands the role of the mechanical wristwatch.

9.5Expert Score
Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial “Pepsi Bezel”
Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial "Pepsi Bezel" 
Rolex GMT Master II Mechanical (Automatic) Blue Dial "Pepsi Bezel"  self-winding automatic watch features a 40mm 18K white gold case with the red and blue bezel as called "Pepsi"
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PROS
  • Anodized Aluminum Bezel
  • Durable
  • Accurate
  • Reliable technical watch
  • Improved lever geometry
CONS
  • Large watch