With Watches & Wonders Geneva just a few days away, everyone is talking about their Rolex predictions for 2022 and what they hope to see from the world’s most famous luxury timepiece manufacturer this year. Personally, I think that it will either be the Milgauss or Yacht-Master collection that will receive a major update, but one of the more popular predictions is whether or not this will finally be the year that Rolex brings back the Coke GMT-Master II.
The red and black “Coke” bezel insert was first introduced on the inaugural Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 16760 in 1982 and remained an option within the collection until 2007, when the stainless steel GMT-Master II was updated to feature a Cerachrom bezel. Ever since then, the Coke GMT-Master II has remained absent from the brand’s catalog and Rolex still has yet to produce a red and black bezel insert made from its proprietary Cerachrom ceramic material. So, what would a ceramic Coke GMT-Master II look like, and will this be the year that we will finally see one?
What Would a New Rolex GMT-Master II Coke Look Like?
The general consensus is that if Rolex were to produce a new Coke GMT-Master II, it would likely look just like the current-production Pepsi model, except for the fact that it would be fitted with a red and black bezel insert instead of a red and blue one. For the most part, I would tend to agree with this assumption; however, the big question that still remains is what material Rolex would choose for its new Coke GMT-Master II.
If Rolex adds a red and black “Coke” bezel insert to the stainless steel model from the current GMT-Master II collection, the resulting watch would likely be otherwise identical to the Pepsi version, and it would likely even have the same red GMT hand, along with the option of either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. However, given the visual similarities between the white gold and stainless steel versions of the Pepsi GMT-Master II, one other possibility is that Rolex would discontinue the white gold Pepsi model and replace it with a white gold Coke GMT-Master II to create a greater aesthetic separation between the two watches.
Image: Oracle Time
Why There Might Be a New Coke GMT-Master II
Probably the single greatest detail supporting the theory that there will be a new Coke GMT-Master II this year is the simple fact that there currently exists a strong visual similarity between the stainless steel and white gold models. Additionally, this has only become more true now that the stainless steel version is also available with the option of an Oyster bracelet. While you do get a dark blue dial on the white gold model, the difference in retail price between the two is nearly $30k, and many collectors believe that Rolex made a slight misstep by making the two watches so aesthetically similar.
Beyond that, having three different bezel color options available for the Rolex GMT-Master II would hardly be an unprecedented occurrence. For decades, Rolex offered its famous pilot’s watch with the option of either a Pepsi, Coke, or all-black bezel insert. While the all-black version has been discontinued for several years, it has been replaced by the black and blue “Batman” option, so if Rolex were to re-introduce the Coke bezel, it would largely make sense within the greater context of the GMT-Master II and its history.
Why There Won’t Be a Ceramic Coke GMT-Master II
As for reasons why we might not see a new ceramic Coke GMT-Master II this year, probably the first and most valid is that the collection (as a whole) has received quite a lot of updates and new additions within the last several years. In 2018, Rolex unveiled the new Everose Root Beer models (both two-tone and full Everose gold references), along with the stainless steel ceramic Pepsi on a Jubilee bracelet. The following year, the Batman on a Jubilee was added to the lineup, as was the updated white gold Pepsi model - and then just last year in 2021, Rolex made both Oyster and Jubilee bracelets available for the stainless steel models. Even die-hard fans of the GMT-Master II must admit that the collection has hardly been neglected, and there are many who believe that the current lineup isn’t really lacking anything at this point in time.
On top of that, the GMT-Master II is currently one of Rolex’s most popular watches and it really doesn’t need any more of a boost in terms of popularity. If sales were struggling, it might make sense for Rolex to take actions to stimulate interest in the model, but virtually all Rolex watches are perpetually sold out at a retail level and the GMT-Master II collection has some of the longest waiting lists other than the fan-favorite Daytona. Rolex already isn’t able to keep up with global demand and releasing a new red and black GMT-Master II would just be like pouring fuel on the fire at this point.
Personally, I’m not convinced that we will see a new Rolex GMT-Master II Coke released at Watches & Wonders Geneva this year and even if we do, I have a feeling that it will likely be in yellow or white gold rather than stainless steel. The red and black Coke bezel was originally chosen to usher in a new era for Rolex’s multi-time zone pilot’s watch, and I can’t imagine that it would make its grand return as an afterthought option on a model that has already existed for several years. With that in mind, Rolex has an amazing way of surprising people and anything is possible, so we'll just have to wait until the morning of the show to see what gets unveiled.