Worried that the Hulk might make you angry? Or that the Batman may turn you into a vigilante? Struggle to tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi? Over the years Rolex watches have gained many different nicknames, and it can sometimes be difficult seeing past these and knowing which Rolex model it actually is. This handy guide will give you the information you need to make an informed decision on which Rolex to purchase.
The GMT-Master was first released in 1955 and featured a two-tone bezel in blue and red made of “bakelite”. This early version did not feature any crown protectors. The watch was made in collaboration with Pan American World Airways and intended as a pilot’s watch capable of simultaneously showing the prevailing time in two locations. The additional hour hand allows the wearer to display the prevailing hour at home. In addition, the bezel is marked with a 24-hour scale, revealing whether the time period, indicated by the extra hand, is during the day or night.
The original GMT-Master came with a red and blue bezel, reflecting the colours of Pan Am Airways. Subsequent GMT-Master’s featuring this bezel were given the nickname ‘Pepsi’ reflecting the branding of the soft drink manufacturer.
Like the ‘Pepsi’, the ‘Coke’ takes its name from the differently coloured bezel. The red and black colouring is said to represent a full bottle of Coca-Cola.
‘Root Beer’ – GMT-Master 1675
Completing the trio of soft-drink-related nicknames, the Root Beer applies to GMT-Master watches which have a brown and gold bezel, which is said to resemble a frothy glass of root beer.
Released in 2013, the GMT-Master II 116710BLNR was given the nickname ‘Batman’ in reference to its black and blue bezel. The BLNR can also be referred to as the bruiser, also because of the colouring on the bezel.
Launched in 1953, the Rolex Submariner had a maximum water resistance of 100 metres when it was introduced. The specification of this model included a rotational bezel. Interestingly, these early models lacked a date display and the legendary “Mercedes” hour hand. Today’s Rolex Submariner models include bi-metallic versions, yellow and white gold options and even a model sporting an eye-catching green dial with matching bezel. However, the steel Submariner Date with black dial remains the traditional choice and still proves a very practical and versatile timepiece loved by legions of watch collectors around the globe
‘Kermit’ – Submariner 16610LV
The 50th-anniversary Submariner 16610LV was released to mark half a century of the famous model. The green bezel, complete with black dial, gave the watch a likeness to the Sesame Street frog Kermit.
‘Hulk’ – Submariner 116610LV
The ‘Hulk’ represents the first occasion on which a Submariner was released with both a green dial and bezel. This green colour block gave the watch it’s nickname ‘Hulk’, although an angry split personality is not required to enjoy the watch.
Almost identical in appearance to the ‘Kermit’, the ‘Flat 4’ has one subtle difference. The slightly different font used for the F-series serial numbers uses a number 4 which is different to the 50th-anniversary models.
In 1963, Rolex launched its legendary sports watch, the Cosmograph Daytona. The Swiss company had made chronographs beforehand but in limited volumes. The styling of the Cosmograph Rolex Daytona represented a departure from the former, and more traditional, chronographs bearing the Rolex crown. The 1963 model included a metal bezel, marked with a tachymeter scale and a tri-compax layout featuring contrasting sub-dials. Early models featured Valjoux movements, but these would later be superseded by the Zenith El-Primero movement, modified to run at 28,800 vph (4Hz). Ultimately, Rolex would elect to use its own in-house movement, the latest of which is the Calibre 4130.
The ‘Newman’ dial Daytona refers to a vintage Daytona which has a dial that uses different font and colours to the traditional. Initially a poor seller, pictures of film star and racing enthusiast; Paul Newman wearing the model, caused the watch to become one of the most popular Daytona models.
Osvaldo Patrizzi was auctioning a number of Daytona’s in 2005 when he noticed an abnormality in the usually Silver subdials. Due to the use of the natural varnish Zapon in the manufacture, the subdials of a number of Daytona’s began to turn a brownish colour. The progressive nature of the colour change makes each watch a unique and much sought-after timepiece.
‘Solo’ – Daytona 6239
The ‘Solo’ refers to early Daytona’s which featured just a single word of the text – ‘Rolex’. As the model integrated a screw-down crown, the word ‘Oyster’ would have appeared on the dial, soon joined by ‘Daytona’
‘John Player Special’ – Daytona 6241
Entrenched firmly in the motorsport heritage of the Daytona line, the ‘John Player special’ features a Gold bracelet and bezel, teamed with a black dial. Resembling the colours of tobacco brand John Player Special which adorned the Lotus F1 team, this watch continued the Daytona’s close association with high-speed racing.
The first Rolex Explorer was launched in 1953. Designed as a robust and hard-wearing watch to follow the wearer to the limits of their own capabilities, the Explorer was the first watch to be used in a successful ascent of Mount Everest. In 1971 the Explorer II was released, now featuring an additional hour hand and a 24-hour-scale bezel, allowing the wearer to keep track of Daylight hours.
When sales of the newly released Explorer II were a little disappointing, Rolex created an attention-grabbing advertisement featuring a Hollywood legend. Steve McQueen lent to his image to the campaign and the Explorer II 1655 became known as the ‘Steve McQueen’.
‘Polar’ – Explorer II 16570
Originally, Explorer II’s came only with a black dial, but the new reference 16570 came with a white dial option. With the addition also of white hands, and the models close association with adventurers and explorer’s, this set-up quickly gained the nickname ‘Polar’ reflecting its almost pure white appearance.
The Sea-Dweller is a close sibling of the Submariner. Released in 1967, the 1665 offered superior water resistance when compared with the Submariner at 610 meters. The Sea-Dweller 16660 extended the water resistance of the watch to 1,220 meters, before the ‘Deep-Sea’ version 116660 pushed the level out to 3,900 meters. The Sea-Dweller models eschew the Rolex cyclops, a magnifying lens positioned above the date and found on the brand’s current Submariner Date models.
‘Double Red’ – Sea-Dweller 1665
When the Submariner grew into the Sea-Dweller, the early models featured both titles on the dial. With both being in red, the watch gained the nickname ‘Double Red’, however Rolex swapped out these dials during servicing, making the Double Red a particularly rare example.
‘Great White’ – Sea-Dweller 1665
The ‘Great White’ has the same model number as the double red, but the dial is very different. Gone is the red lettering and the Submariner writing leaving just a white Sea-Dweller behind. This saw the watch gain the nickname ‘Great White’ and it was the first watch to feature the Sea-Dweller name exclusively.
Celebrating the Film director’s journey to reach Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the worlds ocean, Rolex released this blue dial Sea-Dweller 116660. The fade from blue to black on the dial symbolises the plunge to the depths of the mission which had with it a specially designed Rolex timepiece. The nickname ‘James Cameron’ became attached to the watch, along with the name ‘Deep Blue’.