Traditionalists rejoice: the GMT Master with a red and blue “Pepsi” bezel – the watch that graced the wrists of the Concorde test pilots – is back, and it’s better than ever. Bringing it back wasn’t as easy. The new bezel is as much a technological feat as it is a return of an aesthetic icon. The complex process for creating Cerachrom bezels, and some basic rules of chemistry, conspired to make the rebirth a challenging process.
Rolex uses a patented, proprietary system to create Cerachrom bezels. It begins with with an entirely red mono-block disk, one section of which is chemically modified at the granular level to change the red to blue, with a perfectly clear demarcation between the colors. Red is an especially difficult color to work with, because firing the material affects the color. Rolex worked with a team of scientists to solve the problem, allowing them to revive the original GMT Master’s colors.
The 40 mm Oyster case is crafted from 18k white gold. The center portion of the case is machined from a solid block that is cast by Rolex at its own foundry, which is the largest of any watchmaker. The bezel on this model differs from that on the 904 L stainless steel GMT-Masters, so it is not interchangeable. The Triplock winding crown assures 100 meter water resistance. Inside, the COSC-certified manufacture caliber 3186 keeps time to chronometer standards thanks in part to its patented blue Parachrom hairspring with Breguet overcoil, which is up to 10 times more shock-resistant than a traditional hairspring. The bracelet features the Oysterlock safety clasp and the Easylink rapid extension system, which allows the bracelet to be extended in 2 mm increments for comfort.
This new GMT-Master II, ref. 116719 BLRO, will retail for $38,250.