Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer: All You Want to Know

by Barbara Wilson

The Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer is a timepiece that has captured the imagination of watch enthusiasts and collectors around the world. With its distinctive brown and gold color scheme, this watch is often compared to the refreshing beverage it’s named after. But there’s more to the GMT-Master II Root Beer than its unique appearance. In this article, we will delve into the history of this iconic Rolex model, explore what sets it apart from other timepieces, and even answer the burning question: Is it a real “Root Beer” watch? Additionally, we’ll compare it to its sibling, the GMT-Master II Pepsi, and provide alternatives for those who crave a taste of luxury horology beyond Rolex.


I. What is the history of the Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer?

The story of the Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer begins in the 1950s when Rolex designed the original GMT-Master for Pan American World Airways (Pan Am) pilots. This model featured a distinctive red and blue bezel, often referred to as the “Pepsi” bezel, which allowed pilots to track two time zones simultaneously. It was a functional and stylish tool watch that quickly gained popularity among frequent travelers and aviation enthusiasts.


However, it wasn’t until 1963 that Rolex introduced the GMT-Master with the “Root Beer” bezel. This new variation featured a brown and gold bezel, creating a warmer and more luxurious aesthetic compared to the Pepsi version. The Root Beer GMT-Master II was initially known as the “GMT-Master II Caramel” due to its unique coloration. Over the years, it underwent several design refinements, eventually leading to the GMT-Master II Root Beer we know today.


II. What makes the GMT-Master II Root Beer so special?

Distinctive Appearance: The most obvious feature that sets the GMT-Master II Root Beer apart is its brown and gold bezel, which gives it a warm and sophisticated character. This color combination is not only unique but also evokes images of the classic soft drink, adding a touch of nostalgia.


Materials and Craftsmanship: Rolex is renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship and use of premium materials. The GMT-Master II Root Beer is no exception. It is crafted from Rolex’s proprietary Everose gold, which boasts both durability and a lustrous finish. The watch also features the iconic Oyster case, known for its water resistance and robustness.

Dual Time Zone Functionality: Like its predecessors, the GMT-Master II Root Beer is equipped with a GMT function, allowing wearers to track two time zones simultaneously. This practical feature is particularly useful for travelers and globetrotters.

Superior Movement: Under the hood, the watch houses Rolex’s in-house Caliber 3285 movement, known for its precision and reliability. With a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, you can set the watch down for a long weekend and pick it up without missing a beat.

Cyclops Lens: One unique feature of the Root Beer GMT-Master II is its cyclops lens, which magnifies the date window for easy reading. While this feature is present on other Rolex models, it’s a notable addition to the GMT-Master line.

III. Is the Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer a REAL Root Beer?

One of the questions that often arises when discussing the Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer is whether it’s actually related to the soft drink. The short answer is no; it’s not designed to resemble a glass of Root Beer. Instead, the watch earned its nickname due to the brown and gold color scheme, which, when combined, bears a striking resemblance to the beverage’s colors. Rolex never intended for it to be a literal interpretation of Root Beer.

This misconception highlights the playfulness and creativity of watch enthusiasts who love to give nicknames to their favorite timepieces based on their unique characteristics. So, while the Root Beer GMT-Master II may not quench your thirst, it will undoubtedly satisfy your appetite for exquisite horology.

IV. “GMT-Master II” Root Beer vs Pepsi: Which One to Choose?

The eternal debate in the Rolex community centers around choosing between the GMT-Master II Root Beer and its sibling, the GMT-Master II Pepsi. Both watches have their merits, and the choice ultimately boils down to personal preference and lifestyle. Let’s compare the two:

Color Scheme: The most obvious difference is the color of the bezel. The Root Beer offers a warmer and more subdued look, while the Pepsi features the iconic red and blue bezel, which is bolder and more sporty.

Versatility: The Root Beer’s color palette tends to be more versatile, making it suitable for a wider range of occasions, from casual to formal. On the other hand, the Pepsi may be better suited for sportier activities.

Popularity: The GMT-Master II Pepsi has historically been more popular and recognized due to its longer history and association with aviation. If you prefer a watch with a stronger heritage, the Pepsi might be the choice for you.

Collectibility: Depending on the year and specific model, both the Root Beer and Pepsi can be highly collectible. Vintage models of both watches often fetch premium prices among collectors.

Availability: Availability of these watches can vary widely. The Pepsi, being more popular, might be harder to find at authorized dealers, leading to longer wait times. The Root Beer, while still sought after, might be more readily available.

In the end, it’s a matter of personal taste. Some collectors even opt for both watches to have options for different occasions.

V. The Top 5 “GMT-Master II” Root Beer Alternatives You Need to Know About

While the Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer is undoubtedly a remarkable timepiece, there are other alternatives on the market that offer similar aesthetics and functionality. These alternatives can be appealing for those who appreciate the Root Beer’s look but want something different or more accessible:

Tudor Black Bay GMT: Tudor, a sister company to Rolex, offers the Black Bay GMT, which shares the Root Beer’s GMT function and vintage-inspired design. It’s a more affordable option without sacrificing quality.

Oris Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer: Oris is known for its aviation-inspired watches. The Big Crown ProPilot Worldtimer offers a world time function in a stylish package with a brown and bronze color scheme.

TAG Heuer Autavia GMT: TAG Heuer’s Autavia GMT combines a vintage-inspired design with modern features, including a GMT function. It’s a sporty and functional alternative.

Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT: Omega’s Seamaster Aqua Terra GMT offers a touch of elegance with its brown dial and gold accents. It’s a versatile watch suitable for both formal and casual occasions.

Grand Seiko Spring Drive GMT: Grand Seiko is celebrated for its exceptional craftsmanship. The Spring Drive GMT offers a unique brown dial and a high level of precision thanks to its Spring Drive movement.

These alternatives provide a range of choices for watch enthusiasts who desire a Root Beer-like aesthetic but are open to different brands and price points.


The Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer is a watch that stands as a testament to Rolex’s commitment to craftsmanship, innovation, and timeless design. Its distinctive brown and gold color scheme, coupled with its dual time zone functionality, make it a unique and practical choice for both frequent travelers and watch collectors.

While it may not be an actual glass of Root Beer, the watch’s nickname speaks to the fun and creative world of horology enthusiasts. Whether you choose the Root Beer or its sibling, the Pepsi, you’ll be investing in a piece of watchmaking history and a symbol of luxury and precision.

For those seeking alternatives, the market offers a variety of options that capture the essence of the Root Beer GMT-Master II while catering to different tastes and budgets. Ultimately, the choice of watch is a personal one, guided by individual preferences and lifestyles. Whichever timepiece you select, it’s sure to become a treasured companion on your horological journey.


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