Even though the higher ups at Rolex sometimes seem to be breathing rarefied air, they do occasionally pay heed to the clamors of the vox populi. In the case of a stainless steel Pepsi GMT-Master II, the refrain was crystal clear: “Give us a Pepsi on an Oyster bracelet!” After placing a Pepsi GMT on a Jubilee bracelet in 2018, Rolex finally relented, quietly offering a Pepsi GMT-Master II on an Oyster bracelet, and releasing it in 2021, at the newly redesigned Watches and Wonders.
Why did Rolex put the Pepsi GMT-Master II on a Jubilee bracelet in 2018?
Normally associated with Datejusts or women’s bracelets, the multi-link Jubilee bracelet was an unexpected choice for the GMT Master-II in 2018. While the vast majority of Rolex GMTs have been on Oyster bracelets, there’s a long history of Jubilee references that are often obscured or forgotten. Take, for instance, the yellow gold Concorde (reference 1675) on a Jubilee bracelet, or even Tom Selleck’s famous stainless steel 16750 with a Jubilee bracelet, made famous on Magnum P.I. Yet collectors’ contempt for this bracelet choice can sometimes be subtly communicated in watch culture. The clearest example of this was naming the 126710BLNR the “Batgirl” in order to reflect the perception that Jubilee bracelets should be paired with women’s watches.
Why was there so little fanfare to the release of the Pepsi GMT-Master II on Oyster?
Stainless steel references are the bread and butter of Rolex’s offerings. In many ways, the brand was established with a stainless steel tool watch, and there’s nearly insatiable demand for stainless steel options today. Rolex probably expected that a stainless steel Pepsi GMT would sell no matter what bracelet it was placed on. Although the Pepsi GMT on Jubilee sold well, it didn’t win the hearts and minds of Rolex constituents. In fact, some collectors found a workaround, replacing the Jubilee on their new stainless steel watch with an Oyster bracelet. Perhaps realizing their over-calculation, Rolex returned to the Oyster bracelet in 2021, to the delight of many die-hard GMT collectors. However, this long-awaited option wasn’t emphasized by Rolex in press releases and presentations. Instead, it was quietly released, relying on intrepid journalists and super-fans to spot the gold among the, um, dross.
Everyone’s excited! Well, almost everyone…
There’s only one group of people who might not be as thrilled about the stainless steel Pepsi GMT-Master II. Prior to 2021, the only way to nab an oyster bracelet on a Pepsi GMT was to commit to the white gold option at a much higher price than stainless steel. While the difference between the white gold GMT and a stainless steel GMT may be distinguishable up close, the two are almost identical from more than a foot away. With the Pepsi GMT, there’s little left to separate the more expensive option from the stainless steel choice. Anticipating this angst, Rolex offered white gold aficionados the opportunity to own a white gold GMT-Master II with a meteorite dial in 2021, perhaps quelling some of the discontent.
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