A Closer Look at the Rolex Root Beer

We all know Rolex as one of the most prestigious brands in the watchmaking world. Given their excellent reputation, it is only expected for them to have numerous iconic pieces in their portfolio. There is one model in particular that just about everyone seems to know: the GMT-Master. Indeed, the Pepsi variation of this watch is one of the most popular pieces ever created. Today, however, we are actually going to take a closer look at its relative, the Rolex Root Beer


Rolex Root Beer: Through The Years 

Before we delve a little deeper into the details of the most recent Rolex Root Beer, let us take a quick look at how this watch has evolved over the years. 

Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675/3

The first-ever Rolex Root Beer came in the form of the Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 1675/3, which was launched back in the 1970s. This watch was actually released in two bezel color variations. The model with the brown-and-black bezel was dubbed the Rolex Root Beer because of its shade. Moreover, this watch brought something new to the table, as it came in a case and bracelet made of stainless steel and exquisite yellow gold. Its brown dial featured luminescent hands, hour markers in various shapes, and a magnified date window. It was powered by a caliber 1575 and had GMT functionality, as befitting a GMT-Master timepiece. This original Rolex Root Beer model has long been discontinued, making it a highly sought-after collectible piece today. 

Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 16713

Launched in the late 1980s, the next Rolex Root Beer came in the form of the GMT-Master II Ref. 16713. This Rolex Root Beer served as a new and improved version of its predecessor. It came in a 40 mm stainless steel and gold case with a bracelet of the same materials. The iconic bi-directional bezel, which featured a 24-hour scale, had brown and gold aluminum inserts. The brown dial remained quite similar to that of the Ref. 1675/3, with luminescent hands, hour markers, and a date window. However, the interesting thing about this GMT-Master II Root Beer was that it could display 3 time zones, instead of just 2. This was due to its adjustable 12-hour and 24-hour hands. 

In-Depth Look at the Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126711CHNR

Now, let us focus on the most recent variation of the Rolex Root Beer, the Reference 126711CHNR. As the most recent GMT-Master II Root Beer model, it is a part of the Swiss brand’s current catalogue. 

Case and Bracelet 

One of the most noticeable changes with this recent model lies in the materials used for the case and bracelet. The previous versions were made of stainless steel and yellow gold, which come in relatively bright shades. Meanwhile, the Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR uses Oystersteel and Everose gold. These have a warmer, smoother hue in comparison to the other materials. The case also has a 40mm diameter with a secure screw-down case back and a winding crown. Lastly, the bracelet features a three-piece link structure with a folding Oysterlock clasp. 


Moving on to the main highlight of this watch, this Rolex Root Beer has a bidirectional, graduated bezel. The bezel is marked with a 24-hour scale for the GMT function. It also features a brown and black Cerachrom insert, which resembles the soda it is named after. In addition, other elements on the bezel include molded Arabic numerals and a triangular tip in lieu of the 24th hour numeral. 


When it comes to design, the dial of this Rolex Root Beer follows a fairly straightforward layout. It has a black dial with a Chromalight display, a 4-hand system, hour markers in various shapes, and a magnified date window. Regardless of its simplicity, the interesting thing about this watch face is that all these elements were mindfully chosen to provide superior legibility. Lastly, protecting the dial is a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal which adds extra durability. 

Technical Specifications

The GMT-Master II Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR is powered by a caliber 3285. It is a perpetual, self-winding movement. Some of its functions include a 24-hour display, a 2nd time zone, a stop-seconds setting, and a power reserve of 70 hours. It also has a Parachrom hairspring which boasts superior resistances to shock and temperature changes. As if all these features are not enough, this movement is also certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). This makes it even more trustworthy and reliable. 


As of today, this GMT-Master II Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR is priced at approximately $15,700 USD. However, this can vary based on where you buy it from, especially when it comes to online platforms. There are some resellers that offer a slightly lower or higher price, depending on the condition of the watch and the state of the market. 

Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR vs Rolex Pepsi Ref. 126710BLRO

front view of Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR watch (left) vs Rolex Pepsi Ref. 126710BLRO watch (right)

Since the Rolex Root Beer and Rolex Pepsi are simply variations of the same watch model, they definitely share more similarities than differences. That said, here are some of the more notable distinctions between the two:  


Starting off with the most obvious difference, we have the bezel color combination. The Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR features a bezel in brown and black. It resembles the color of root beer, hence the nickname of this watch Meanwhile, the Rolex Pepsi Ref. 126710BLRO comes with a blue and red bezel which resembles the Pepsi logo. The Rolex Pepsi tends to be more eye-catching since it uses brighter and more vibrant colors. That being said, the Rolex Root Beer, with its warmer and softer colors, has an air of elegance around it because of its subtlety. 

Case and Bracelet

The Rolex Root Beer comes in an Oystersteel and Everose gold case and bracelet. This gives it an exceptionally classy and lavish two-toned look. On the other hand, the Rolex Pepsi model is mainly made out of Oystersteel, which has a clean and sophisticated finish. Another difference is that the Rolex Pepsi Ref. 126710BLRO has a Jubilee strap with 5 links. On the other hand, the Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR features a classic 3-link bracelet. 


The Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR comes at a higher price than the Rolex Pepsi Ref. 126710BLRO. This is because the Rolex Root Beer uses both Oystersteel and gold, whereas the Rolex Pepsi uses Oystersteel only. 

As was previously mentioned, this Rolex Root Beer is priced at around $15,700 USD. The latest Rolex Pepsi model, on the other hand, retails at around $10,200 USD. However, prices for older versions of both watches may differ, depending on the popularity of the model, the condition, and other such factors. 


When it comes to reputation, the Rolex Pepsi is arguably the most well-known, highly-coveted watch in the entire GMT-Master catalogue. It made such a huge impact when it was first released that other brands even started releasing their own versions of Rolex Pepsi. Meanwhile, the Rolex Root Beer is a more acquired taste for many. Some people are not fond of the Rolex Root Beer’s color combination. Others, however, appreciate it as something different compared to the bright-colored bezels. 

GMT-Master and GMT-Master II: What’s the difference? 

case, bezel, and crown of Rolex Root Beer  watch

You may have noticed that the Rolex Root Beer and Rolex Pepsi come in both GMT-Master and GMT-Master II models. So, what exactly is the difference between these two collections?

The simplest way to explain this is by thinking of the GMT-Master II as a descendant of the original GMT-Master. At present, only the former is still being produced, as the GMT-Master was officially discontinued back in 1999. Furthermore, there are a fair share of minute differences between the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II that may not be noticed by the untrained eye. 


When these two models are put together, side-by-side, they seem almost identical. However, if you look closely, the original GMT-Master is actually slightly thinner than its descendant. Aside from that, they also use different fonts for the 24-hour scale on the bezel.


Behind the scenes is where the differences are more evident. The most recent version of the GMT-Master II is powered by a caliber 3285. The original GMT Master, on the other hand, was equipped with a less-advanced caliber 1036. Another notable distinction between the two is that the GMT-Master mainly relies on its bezel for the second time zone feature. The GMT-Master II, however, has an independent hour hand to indicate a second time zone. 


You know how aged wine is perceived to be more prestigious than new wine? Well, the same kind of reasoning also applies to the Rolex GMT-Master watches. While the GMT-Master II serves as an improved version of its predecessor, vintage GMT-Master models are definitely more highly coveted. 

Why should you buy the Rolex Root Beer?

  1. Icon. Although the Rolex Pepsi has a better reputation, it does not mean that the Rolex Root Beer has no value at all. In fact, it is still one of the most recognizable watches ever due to the sheer impact of the GMT-Master collection. Getting your hands on the Rolex Root Beer would definitely raise your status in the watchmaking community.  So, if you are an enthusiast or a collector, you should definitely consider it! 
  2. Investment. Most of us believe that Rolex timepieces generally hold their value well. While that is not the case for all of its models, it is something that applies to the Root Beer, especially when it comes to the vintage pieces. The Rolex Root Beer GMT-Master Ref. 1675/3 and Ref. 16713 are discontinued models, but they are still highly sought-after by many serious watch collectors. Purchasing a Rolex Root Beer can definitely serve as a long-term investment as well. 
  3. Quality. This is a pretty self-explanatory reason but still worth elaborating on. Since most people focus on the resale value and reputation of the Rolex Root Beer, its quality and impressive specifications are sometimes overlooked. Luckily for them, this watch has great reliability because of its top-notch materials and mindfully chosen components. The most recent version of the Rolex Root Beer is also certified by the COSC. This means that it meets a very high standard in Swiss watchmaking.  

Alternative Models to the Rolex Root Beer 

If you are having a difficult time getting your hands on the Rolex Root Beer, or it is out of your budget, fear not! We have gathered two alternative models with a similar vibe/aesthetic for those of you who love the Rolex Root Beer. 

Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Ref. M79012M-0001

front view of Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze Ref. M79012M-0001 watch

We start off with a piece from Tudor, which should not be surprising since they are a sister brand of Rolex. The model we have in mind is the Black Bay Fifty-Eight Bronze. Retailing at around $4,500 USD, this model comes in a 39mm satin-brushed bronze case paired with a bracelet made of the same material. It features a rotating bezel with a brown-bronze aluminum disc which adds a vintage feel to the whole watch. The brown dial simply consists of luminescent hands and hour markers, which is quite similar to the Rolex Root Beer’s layout. Lastly, this Tudor Black Bay timepiece is driven by a caliber MT5400. This is an automatic movement with a whopping 70-hour power reserve. 

TAG Heuer Autavia Ref. WBE5191.FC8276

front view of TAG Heuer Autavia Ref. WBE5191.FC8276 watch

Next, we have the TAG Heuer Autavia Ref. WBE5191.FC8276 which is another retro-inspired aviator watch. Priced at approximately $4,020 USD, it is presented in a bronze case paired with a brown leather strap and a titanium case back. The bidirectional ceramic dial comes in a warm, chocolate brown color. This adds to the classic aesthetics of the entire piece. Its brown dial features luminous Arabic numerals and sword hands, along with a date window at 6 o’clock. This TAG Heuer watch is powered by self-winding caliber 5 which boasts COSC certification as well. 

Final Thoughts

Like it or not, the Rolex Root Beer is one of the most popular GMT watches out there. While the color combination may seem boring to some people, its timeless and vintage vibe makes it a great classic timepiece. Moreover, if it seems unattainable to you, just know that there are numerous models out there, with similar aesthetics at a lower cost. Ultimately, owning this Rolex Root Beer variation of the GMT-Master is bound to make anyone’s collection better. 

If you want to know more about Rolex watches, check out our piece on the Rolex Kermit

Photo Credits: Rolex and WatchShopping 

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