The famed Genevese watchmaker, Rolex, has released a new version of its iconic model which first appeared in 1955 and with an original red and blue color scheme popularly referred to as “Pepsi” bezel because of its similarity to the logo of the soda manufacturer. New Rolex Perpetual GMT-Master II model was originally made for pilots and that is why it has appropriate functions for them, namely the presence of the second time zone presented in a 24-hour format. There is also an option of telling the time in the third zone by rotating the bezel. However, none of these functions are much unusual or special. The importance and exclusivity of Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II timepiece lays exactly in the arrangement of bright colors on its bezel, especially when you consider the material that it is crafted in. This is the world’s first piece that includes red color on the bezel made of extremely resilient ceramic. The newcomer will come strictly in a white gold casing and will be sold at the price of $41,475.
Flying Origin and the Color Scheme that Made It an Icon
Originally, Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master timepiecewhich became the official timepiece of the Pan Am pilots, was designed in order to facilitate flight between different time zones as the age of intercontinental flight reached its boom. To avoid any confusion, Rolex equipped its timepiece an additional GMT hand and a dual colored bezel which would clearly show whether it is night or day in that time zone. Except being very readable in that manner, the new color scheme with the bezel being divided into red and blue halves looked pretty neat and became very sought after. In those days, the best way to create a bi-colored bezel included a transparent Plexiglas section that revealed painted surfaces underneath it.
Some five years after the creation of the first model, the brand mastered a new technique which allowed it to make a dual colored bezel of anodized aluminum. New color schemes followed one of the examples of the new color arrangement that was seen on the first Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II watch from 1982. The second generation of the watch abandoned a fixed GMT hand and offered the wearer an option to set it to time zone of its preference. This way, the pilot’s timekeeper got the third time zone which could be read in the combination with the movable bezel. Despite the addition of new colors, the original red and blue scheme still remained a crowd favorite and the best liked when compared to all of the following iterations.
New Ceramic Bezels
A new chapter began about nine years ago when Rolex started using Cermachrom inserts on its rotatable bezels. The obvious advantages of ceramic as a material are its glossy appearance and more importantly its extreme resilience, simply because it does not corrode, it is not affected with ultra-violet light and is virtually scratch proofed. However, the initial complex process allowed the creation of this type of bezel solely in black color. The following breakthroughs were the addition of green and blue colors to the list of options, as well as the creation of the first two-toned insert (in black and blue) that was featured on the previous Oyster Perpetual GMT Master II piece which saw the light of day last year.
Still, the original iconic colors were impossible to create up to this day. This was due to the process of creation of ceramic parts itself. During the manufacturing of Cerachrom bezels, mineral pigments are added to the mixture to add the color. These minerals are utilized because they can be exposed to extreme temperatures which are necessary in order to create compact and resistant final products. Since there are no red minerals in nature, it is clear why the “Pepsi” color scheme still remained an impossible feat. The difficulty only proved to be a challenge to the watchmaker which developed a secret process that allowed coloring to red. Even this was not enough since the other part of the bezel needs to be in blue color. The final hurdle was passed with the development of the solution which is used to treat a half of the bezel during its creation so it would turn blue. As it is common for Cerachrom bezel, the latest red and blue one is diamond-polished, while its numerals that represent 24 hour of the second time zone are engraved and coated with platinum with the use of PVD treatment.
White Gold Case & Bracelet
After a fairly extensive story about the new type of bezel, let us concentrate on the other traits of the keeper. The watch is placed in an Oyster type round casing with the diameter of 40 mm and water resistance of 100 meters. Its screw-down solid case-back features the recognizable fluting motif. As for the screw-down crown, it is made with a triple waterproofness system and protected with a crown guard which is an integral part of its mono-block middle section of the case. Naturally, the watch likewise has an Oyster type three-link bracelet where the middle section is with polished finish, contrasting to two outer links with satin finish. It locks with a folding safety clasp that is common for the line of products. Both the case and the bracelet of the newcomer with the reference number 116719BLRO are made in white gold which considerably increases the price of the watch, but is quite understandable since it underlines its exclusivity in a way.
The remarkable bezel that can be turned both ways in order to show the time in the third time zone is matched with a black laquer dial as it was originally the case. This black face includes hands and applied hour markers made of 18 K gold and coated with highly luminous Chromalight material.
Inside the white gold case of Rolex Oyster Perpetul GMT-Master II timepiece is Rolex’s proprietary self-winding mechanical 3186 movement with 31 jewels and the COSC chronometric certification as the guarantee of its precision. Thanks to its construction, the setting of the time in the second time zone can be done without influencing the minute and the second hand. There is also a stop-seconds feature that allows precise adjustment, while the list of the caliber’s functions ends with an instantaneous date display executed via an aperture which is set at the three o’clock position. Caliber 3186 beats at the frequency of 4 Hz and includes magnetic resistant blue Parachrom hairspring, Breguet overcoil, as well as massive balance with variable inertia. Its bi-directional winding enables the storage of enough energy to keep the watch running for two days.