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Rolex GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO Watch With Red & Blue Ceramic: Return Of The Pepsi Bezel

Rolex GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO Watch With Red & Blue Ceramic: Return Of The Pepsi Bezel Hands-On

I have to admit that it was rather surprising to see Rolex release a red and blue ceramic bezel version of the GMT-Master II (ref. 116710 BLNR) just one year after they released a blue and black version of the same watch. Indeed, as sales in Rolex stores for the “Batman” GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR are still hot, Rolex goes ahead and completes their mission of reviving the “Pan Am” bezel with the new for 2014 Ref. 116719 BLRO with a fully blue and red GMT bezel.

In a sense this new watch is a dedication to the original GMT-Master timepiece from 1955. We covered the watch when discussing our history of the Rolex Oyster Professional watch and explained how Rolex was late to the game with a pilot watch, but worked with Pan American (Pan Am) airline pilots to develop a timepiece for their needs. The red and blue segments of the bezel are meant to act (more or less) as an AM/PM day/night indicator, but the bright colors also happened to be rather distinctive.

Rolex GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO Watch With Red & Blue Ceramic: Return Of The Pepsi Bezel Hands-On

Eventually, Rolex came out with the updated GMT-Master II that retained the blue and red color tones for the bezel, but also added other colors as well over the years. In about 2007 Rolex stopped producing the Pepsi bezel (as it is often known) and a bit later Rolex moved all GMT-Master II collection watches to have Cerachrom ceramic bezels. Ceramic as a material was clearly an improvement over the older aluminum bezels when it came out in 2008 but it would take a few years before Rolex was able to produce bezels in a color other than black or blue.

Rolex then added green with a version of the Submariner Date in 2010, and in 2013 released the first ever two-tone ceramic bezel for the GMT-Master II. The major innovation there was to create a single piece of ceramic with two colors. The process is complicated and involves a sort of chemistry cooking magic during the ceramic sintering process. Can you guess what color the bezel starts out as before the baking process?

Rolex GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO Watch With Red & Blue Ceramic: Return Of The Pepsi Bezel Hands-On

Rolex GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO Watch With Red & Blue Ceramic: Return Of The Pepsi Bezel Hands-On

It is actually green. The base ceramic material begins life as a brittle green ring which when baked shrinks and becomes red. The all red bezel is then chemically treated on the half of the surface that will eventually become blue. The completed sintering process specially developed by Rolex after years of trial and error results in a red and blue bezel, with an impressively bold set of colors that has a perfect demarcation between the two colors. It is really a brilliant effect, and no one but Rolex can come close to producing anything like it in bulk.

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So just one year after the blue and black version of the GMT-Master II comes a blue and red version. Clearly, Rolex has been pushing for a return to a blue and red GMT bezel for a while, and given the complexity of working with ceramic colors I am impressed at how relatively short it took them. The real question is whether people who purchased (or will purchase) a ref. 116710 BLNR have anything to be upset about.

Rolex GMT-Master II 116719 BLRO Watch With Red & Blue Ceramic: Return Of The Pepsi Bezel Hands-On

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  • Lqdbreakz

    Wonder how many people will be trading their blue and black bezel (day/night) models now… just a thought. Not just Rolex addicts, but WIS everywhere will be getting their name on the list I would imagine.

  • marm77

    God.. I wish they would do something different. Changing the color each year and branding it a new watch, typical Rolex marketing strategy. 

    The fools continue to buy everything Rolex shits out.

  • mcv1973a

    While not my personal favorite of the show so far, it’s nice to see the Pepsi bezel is still around. Everyone should have at least one Pepsi watch in their collection.
    Not this one, though. A Seiko SKX009 will do anyone just fine.

  • Perpetualspirit

    It’s not just new colors, it’s a real complication in the field of materials. Red ceramic, let alone red an blue ceramic in a single piece, was supposed to be impossible to achieve…

  • DG Cayse

    Were Rolex to offer this with a white dial, no cyclops and on a stainless steel Jubilee I would buy it.

    And to be frank, I am not a fan of the GMT Master. I would buy this from sheer nostalgia.

  • Ulysses31

    I don’t think red and blue are a very good fit.  Quality and production is impeccable as usual, as predictable as the safe design.  I sometimes wonder what would happen if this level of production and precision were used to produce somewhat riskier  more exotic designs – could result in some of the best watches ever made.  For now i’ll just have to be content with speculating.

  • Nothing new here… moving on…

  • pinkdela

    IMHO, Rolex ,wants to get part of their research investment on ceramic  fast using gold and a hefty price for this one,  However, very nice take on a iconic piece,, revamped for the modern take. Expect in the following years a version in SS. So for the fans, patience is a virtue.

  • becevit

    Lqdbreakz  I got one and I will never trade it in for this. Plus I wish they discontinue the blnr so I have a more unique watch… But since this is white gold I don’t see that happening..

  • MacKenna

    Maybe it’s the pictures but this looks so cheap and dated.

  • spiceballs

    Nice enough, no great difference (more typical Rolex) but (if I was in the market) I’d go for the blue/black bezel which, to me, just seems to fit better to a GMT – day/night..

  • Boothby17

    This is an astounding example of the best and worst of Rolex. The best being their technological might in creating a single piece two colour bezel in ceramic and harking back to possibly one of their most iconic and nostalgic watches. On the other hand they create it in exclusively white gold, Rolex have no interest creating achievable luxury, their show offs, and that’s what everyone loves and hates about them.

  • Perpetualspirit

    On the other hand they did offer a two color Cerachrom GMT-Master in SS last year. I bet the red and blue is so hard to make they had to put it on a WG model. Mind you, Omega just showed off an orange ceramic bezel on a Seamaster, yet only made 8 pieces and in platinum…

  • SAYSAY

    Before you pretend to seem to know what you’re talking about, at least do a simple Google search. I won’t mention any names, but a brand had already made both blue and red ceramic 40+ years ago…
    Link for the lazy:
    http://omegaforums.net/threads/visit-to-omega-museum-part-h-technical-breakthrough-and-modern-collection.6791/

  • Perpetualspirit

    Interesting. Thanks for the lazy link because a simple google search for red blue ceramic won’t find anything about the brand you mention (I stopped after 4 pages of mainly Rolex and pottery). Blue ceramic is nothing new, the reddish “raspberry” bezel seen in these pictures is obviously ruby, and I don’t recall seeing these sold commercially for the last 40+ years. Besides it’s red and blue ceramic in one single piece we are talking about here. Rolex has two patents in this bezel, they wouldn’t have gotten them if it had been done before. But the last letter in the Greek alphabet did have a “world first” in ceramic to present this year: an orange bezel on a Seamaster. So hard to make that they issued only 8 pieces and had to make them on platinum to recoup the costs. Look it up in google, maybe you’ll find it.

  • SAYSAY

    I’m sorry, what material is this “ground-breaking” Rolex offered in?

  • Perpetualspirit

    High-tech ceramic. It starts with a red disc, half of which is then turned into blue at the core of the matter through the application of a special chemical compound before sintering. 2 patents. It’s on their website.

  • MAiG

    Unless you refer to posibles futures references in either yellow or everose gold, or a combination of these two with stainless steel (which I honestly doubt), I don’t think we will ever see a pepsi cerachrom bezel in another reference other than the new 116719 BLRO.Following the Rolex philosophy, they will never produce a 116710 BLRO (stainless steel), as there is no way to differentiate (at first sight) stainless steel and withe gold. Unless they change the color of the dial (blue could be a good option) but I don’t think Rolex will do that as blue dials are normally linked to gold watches.
    See what happened with Submariner 116619 LB (white gold – blue dial and bezel). Rolex also produces other Submariners with blue dials and bezels, the 116618 LB (yellow gold) and the 116613 LB (yellow gold and stainless steel), but there is not (and there will never be) a 116610 LB. Because they will never produce the same colors watch in white gold and, at the same time, in stainless steel.
    All GMT Master enthusiastics around the world (including myself) were waiting for this watch. Rolex knew that and they took the advantage: Release it in Gold version only. If you want it you pay for it and their revenue goes to the moon.It’s a “golden” opportunity that Rolex will not refuse. As they normally do.
    MAG.

  • AMS168

    i’ve just seen the 116719 BLRO. it is an absolutely lovely watch. the red and blue color is very deep, mature, noble color (i don’t really know how to express this beautiful color tone. it just simply a much better pepsi color than the old pepsi). While the BLNR is very much “ordinary”, because it only shows its beauty under the bright lightings. Other than that, the blnr is just look like a normal 116710 LN. I found that Lunette Verte, a.k.a Hulk to be much attractive model compared to the blnr. Hulk is love at the first sight. 116610 LV is definitely not a photogenic watch (with its continuous color changing “mode”). I have the same feelings when I first see the 116719 BLRO. How I wish it comes out in steel (which I don’t think will happen). I guess the reason that Rolex made this new pepsi in a white gold is just simply: it is an exceptionally beautiful color invention that represent classic timeless Rolex GMT Master. And so, they put it with the “highest ranked” material. Personally, I feel lucky that Rolex did not launch the Hulk in white gold…LOL.

  • frustin

    SAYSAY metal, white gold.

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