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New Release: A Tale of Two Pepsi GMT Watches – Rolex GMT-Master II and Tudor Black Bay GMT

The battle of the GMT watches.
by Robin Lim on March 23, 2018

It has only been a couple of days since Baselworld had begun, but there were already a few interesting pieces that had managed to get everyone talking. Yes, we are talking about the novelties from Rolex and Tudor. Not just any Rolex and Tudor, but specifically the two (or maybe, three) that are associated with the drink “Pepsi”. Let’s cue the updated Rolex GMT-Master II, and the all-new Tudor Black Bay GMT.

While the watches were certainly inspired by the original Rolex GMT-Master, both Rolex and Tudor had certainly taken a different approach in their novelties. On one hand, Rolex had incorporated a mishmash of old and new – through the use of a classic jubilee bracelet, and combined with a contemporary-looking ceramic bezel. On the other hand, Tudor had produced a timepiece that pays homage to the classic timepiece. Here’s a more in-depth introduction for two of the most talked about pieces in this year Baselworld.

 

Rolex GMT-Master II

 

 

The new Rolex GMT-Master II, with the bicolour Cerachrom bezel.

 

The Rolex GMT-Master II, with ceramic bezel insert (known as Cerachrom), is nothing new. In fact, the “Pepsi” bezel – which comes in a combination of red and blue on each half – was fitted on the White Gold variant (Reference 116579 BLRO) in 2014. The bicolour bezel was initially designed to help pilots in their navigation, and its purpose is still relevant today – which is to tell time in two time-zones simultaneously.

 

The Jubilee bracelet adds an interesting touch to the new GMT-Master II.

 

In this year’s Baselworld, Rolex had decided to go a step further. The iconic bicolour bezel is now fitted onto the stainless-steel variant. But that is not the only difference for this particular GMT-Master II. The new timepiece is also fitted with another Rolex icon: the Jubilee bracelet. In addition, the lugs and the sides of the Oyster case have also been redesigned, to give the new GMT-Master II a sleeker appearance.

Besides its aesthetics, this GMT-Master II is also fitted with the new in-house Calibre 3285. This self-winding movement features 10 patent application, with improvements in precision, as well as resistance to shocks and magnetic fields. On top of that, the new movement now boasts a power reserve of around 70 hours. This is a vast improvement from the older GMT-Master II, in which the Calibre 3186 has a power reserve of approximately 48 hours. In addition, the movement is Superlative Chronometer certified, which means that watch only deviates by +/- 2 seconds per day.

Overall, we think that this new GMT-Master II will be a hit with many. While some collectors lamented that they would have preferred the watch to be fitted with the Oyster bracelet, but we reckon the Jubilee bracelet gives the GMT-Master II a rather interesting look. In fact, we feel that this is an excellent tribute to the older GMT-Master watches. This 40mm watch retails at S$12,430, but we reckon that there will definitely be a long waiting list for this one.

Note: Interestingly, the Reference 116579 BLRO (which is the white gold variant, with the “Pepsi” Cerachrom bezel insert), is now fitted with a blue dial (instead of a black one). It is still powered by the older Calibre 3186 as well.

 

Tudor Black Bay GMT

 

The Black Bay GMT with the classic-looking riveted bracelet.

 

While there were a few people who had expected Rolex to launch the iconic blue and red bezel for the stainless-steel variant of the GMT-Master II, but the same couldn’t really be said for Tudor. This time, Tudor had surprised us (pleasantly) with their interpretation with the new Black Bay GMT.

The most eye-catching detail is perhaps the rotatable bezel, in which its deep blue and burgundy colours were derived from the other models in the Black Bay line. It is also finished in aluminium – which gives off a rather rustic vibe.

There are also other interesting touches to this piece, such as the use of the “snowflake” hands for both the hour and additional time-zone indicators. The 41mm timepiece is also available with the riveted stainless-steel bracelet. This is a reminiscence of the classic Tudor watches that were made in the 1950s and 1960s.

The watch is powered by the all-new in-house Calibre MT5652. This is a self-winding movement, with a good power reserve of around 70 hours. The movement features a date indicator, and of course the dual time-zone function as well. On top of that, the movement is COSC-certified too.

 

One of the three variants of the Black Bay GMT – with a “Terri di Siena’ brown strap.

 

A more casual appearance of the Black Bay GMT, with the black/burgundy strap.

 

The Black Bay GMT is available in 3 different strap variants: the riveted stainless-steel bracelet, “Terra di Siena” brown leather strap with folding clasp, or a black/burgundy fabric strap with buckle. The stainless-steel bracelet model is priced at CHF 3,700 (approximately S$5,124), while the other two variants retails at CHF 3,400 (approximately S$4,709). We think that this is a relatively affordable model, and it should be a hit with many collectors – both old and new alike.

 

Which is the”one”?

Both of the GMTs are excellent choices, although the price points are slightly different. The Rolex GMT-Master II provides a very interesting appearance – combining a contemporary design with a classic Jubilee bracelet. On the other side, the Black Bay GMT is very retro. We reckon it all boils down to preferences, as well as price point and availability. The Rolex is definitely going to have a long waiting list, so perhaps the Tudor might be more accessible option in the short-term.

What are your thoughts? Which of the two watches do you actually prefer? Let us know in the comments section below!

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