The classic red and blue Pepsi bezel: the secret of the Rolex GMT-Master II’s two-tone bezel

At Baselworld 2018, Rolex introduced a red and blue PepsiCo GMT-Master II that was so popular that it is now hard to find two years later. Rolex’s GMT-Master II has always been popular, with its Aquarian Submariner-like appearance and practical dual time function, and the appearance of two-tone ceramic technology in the Rolex GMT-Master II has furthered the trend.

There are some particularly pleasing designs on watches that no brand is making for one simple reason: they are difficult to make, and this is the case with the two-tone ceramic. Until Rolex, no one had been able to produce two different colours on high-tech ceramic watch components. Not only does the ceramic look soft as jade, it’s also warm to the touch. In 2013, Rolex launched the world’s first two-tone blue and black Cerachrom bezel. This unibody bezel is made up of two contrasting colours, blue and black in equal parts, and is flawless. Until 2018, Rolex introduced a new color scheme with a red and blue ceramic bezel GMT-Master II, commonly known to watch fans as the Pepsi Cola bezel.

A first in watchmaking.

Rolex has always been a “pragmatic” technical pioneer in the world of watchmaking, and in 2014, it further demonstrated its technical and aesthetic prowess by equipping the GMT-Master II with a two-tone red and blue Cerachrom bezel, a design similar to that of the first Replica GMT-Master Watches, introduced in 1955. The bezel echoes the bezel. The original design of the GMT-Master’s two-tone bezel was limited by the material technology, which was first colored and then modified with resin glass in order to enhance the three-dimensional appearance of the bezel.

After the GMT-Master II was officially revised and equipped with a ceramic bezel in 2007, everyone thought that the Rolex two-tone bezel would be out of print – because no one in the watch industry had yet made the two-tone ceramic technology.

The GMT-Master II is paired with a red and blue Cerachrom bezel.

Once the red part of the bezel was completed, the chemical composition of each ceramic grain had to be adjusted to change the half of the bezel from red to blue, from the inside out, while ensuring a clear contrast between the two colours.

The light green ceramic is fired at different temperatures and with different chemical liquids to produce blue and red.

High-tech and classic aesthetics

The entire Cerachrom has a distinctive red and blue ring, with the red part representing 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the blue part representing 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The Cerachrom has a very sturdy, one-piece ring that meets the requirements of quality and reliability. The solidity of the integrated bezel is in keeping with the high quality and reliability of Rolex watches. Like all Rolex Cerachrom bezels, this design is exceptionally resistant to scratching and corrosion and will not fade even when exposed to ultraviolet light.

The ceramic sheen gives the bezel a three-dimensional appearance and enhances the color effect, reminiscent of the Plexiglas resin-glass bezel on the first GMT-Master. The engraved numerals and progressive scales are filled with a thin layer of platinum using Rolex’s patented PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) coating. Its depth and matte finish contrast sharply with the polished surface of the bezel, creating a three-dimensional effect and making it easy to read.

The 2014 model GMT-Master II PepsiCo Ring Ref. 116719BLRO in white gold.

The 2014 model year GMT-Master II is equipped with a two-tone red and blue Cerachrom bezel, a unique high-tech ceramic component that adds several patents to the Cerachrom bezel developed by Rolex since 2005. This design combines the technical performance of the Cerachrom bezel with the classic bi-colour look of the GMT-Master, in keeping with the spirit of Rolex’s heritage and in pioneering a new trend in watchmaking. The red ceramic bezel is extremely difficult to produce, which is why red is so rare on ceramics.

The GMT-Master was presented to Pan Am pilots in 1955, as reported in the newspaper.

Since its introduction in 1955, the Rolex GMT-Master has been distinguished by its two-tone rotating bezel with a 24-hour progressive scale. The additional hand rotates around the bezel every 24 hours, allowing pilots in the rapidly expanding international aviation business to read the time in two time zones simultaneously. The striking red and blue design provides a visual contrast and ensures that this professional watch is easy to read.

The outer ring of the first GMT-Master is painted in half red and half blue and then coated with a transparent Plexiglas resin glass. This method of production allows the colors to emerge through the Plexiglas coating, giving the bezel a three-dimensional appearance.

The Rolex models with ceramic horns have numerals on the bridges. With the first resin and aluminium bezels, it was easy to print the numerals, but with ceramic, it was difficult to create an eye-catching, aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting numeral scale, using a mysterious technique of one-off grooves.

The GMT-Master with transparent Plexiglas resin-glass coating in 1955.

In 1959, a two-color anodized aluminum bezel was introduced to replace the original Plexiglas resin-glass bezel. Other color combinations followed, such as brown and gold for the steel version, or the two-tone GMT-Master II in burgundy and black in 1982. However, for many GMT-Master enthusiasts, the two-tone red and blue bezel remains a classic feature of the watch.

In 2005, Rolex introduced the Cerachrom ceramic bezel.

After years of research, in 2005 Rolex developed the patented Cerachrom ceramic ring, a high-performance component fitted to the rotating bezel. The polished surface of this ceramic bezel is extremely scratch-resistant and exudes a deep, long-lasting luster, in contrast to the finely engraved numerals and markings that are coated with precious metal.

Ceramic is a sturdy and durable material that is extremely resistant to scratching and corrosion and will not tarnish even after prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light. The Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II is the first model in the Oyster collection to incorporate the Cerachrom bezel technology, a new Cerachrom bezel introduced in 2005 in an all-black design.

In order to comply with the quality standards and production techniques of all major watch components, Rolex has developed its own expertise, processes and high-tech equipment for producing ceramic components in-house. The factories are located in Rolex’s Plan-les-Ouates workshop on the outskirts of Geneva. This is where Rolex carries out all the operations for its case and bracelet components, from casting alloys or sourcing other raw materials, to machining, assembling and polishing. From the raw materials to the finished Cerachrom bezel,Replica Rolex UK is in complete control of the production of its ceramic components. This complete in-house expertise allows Rolex to propose innovative solutions and to create components that meet the brand’s specifications and quality standards.

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