Rolex Root Beer: A Guide to Rolex’s Funky GMT Watch

Aug 08, 2020
Rolex Root Beer: A Guide to Rolex’s Funky GMT Watch

Pepsi or Coke? If I had a dollar every time this question was asked, I’d be a millionaire. Even in the watch community, this question has been asked a lot of times. Case in point: the Rolex Pepsi and the Rolex Coke are two of the most common models that you’ll see on the internet. However, a lot of people overlook a very promising contender — the Rolex Root Beer.

Basically, this watch has everything a Rolex Pepsi can do, but with the unique aesthetic. Yes, even its history is as legendary as the other GMT models. So if you’re looking for a different flavour of GMT, here is a guide on the Rolex Root Beer to quench your thirst for iconic watches.

History of the Rolex Root Beer

Vintage Rolex Root Beer
Photo from John R Lovett

The Rise of the GMT Watch

If you’ve noticed, the Rolex Root Beer is just another colourway of Rolex’s famous GMT watch. So its story is very similar to the GMT Pepsi and Batman. But of course, there are a few differences on how this colourway came to be.

As the story goes, the Rolex GMT Master was first introduced in 1954. This was back when the airline industry was just starting to get big. And the competition among pilot watches was fierce. In spite of the plethora of choices, the crew of Pan-Am Airways couldn’t find exactly what they needed — a watch that could display more than one time zone.

With that said, Rolex came to the rescue and developed a new watch. The solution was simple — add a fourth hand to the dial that will point to a 24-hour scale on the bezel. Unlike a diving bezel, this watch’s bezel is unique because of its two-tone colour scheme. Having two colours was necessary because it distinguishes day time from night time.

The Rolex GMT proved to be a success and soon, other airlines started to use it as their official watch.

Rolex GMT Master Ref. 1675/3

History’s first sight on the Rolex Root Beer was the Rolex GMT Master Ref. 1675/3. It is the first GMT watch that came in a  yellow rolesor (steel and yellow gold) colourway. One of its variations had a brown and a cream colour, which garnered the nickname “Root Beer”.

For years, this watch became a good alternative for those who want something different from the famous Pepsi. Now, this vintage version is relatively hard to find and is considered as a collector’s item.

Rolex Root Beer 2018

Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126711CHNR Root Beer

Like other iconic watches, the Rolex Root Beer disappeared on the radar for a while. Fortunately for the fans, it was only temporary. Because in 2018, the Big Crown unveiled a new breed of Rolex Root Beer called the Ref. 126711CHNR.

The new addition to the family was totally unexpected. It also had a lot of differences from the original Rolex Root Beer model. Nevertheless, enthusiasts were quick to call it the 2nd version of the Rolex Root Beer. Let’s take a look at the new model and see what new features and upgrades it offers.

Rolex Root Beer’s Specs

  • Case material: 18K Everose and Oystersteel
  • Case diameter: 40mm
  • Movement: Automatic
  • Power reserve: 70 hours
  • Water resistance: 100m

The Case

One of the most obvious similarities the new model has with the vintage one is its case. While both models share the same bi-coloured scheme, there are a few differences. The Ref. 126711CHNR uses 18K Everose gold whereas the Ref. 1675/3 was made of yellow gold. This was the first time that Rolex used this proprietary metal on the GMT Master II collection. Fans have mixed feelings about this and whether you think it was a good thing or not totally depends on your taste.

Meanwhile, the Oyster case is the same as the other GMT Master II models. It has a case diameter of 40mm and a thickness of 12.5mm. Apart from that, it has the same screw-down case back and winding crown. Together, they give the case a water resistance rating of 100m.

The Bezel

Like other GMT models, the 2018 Rolex Root Beer’s bezel has two colours. It also features the same ceramic material for the bezel insert. The upper half of the bezel comes in black while the other 50% is brown. This is the first time that Rolex made this colour scheme with their patented ceramic bezel.

Meanwhile, the Arabic numerals on the bezel are coated with pink gold via PVD. This gave the whole face of the watch a toned-down look.

Furthermore, the whole bezel is fun to look at in various lighting conditions. Thanks to its ceramic material, the black and brown colours may look similar to each other But roll your wrist a bit and the saturation level goes up a notch.

Rolex Root Beer Dial

The Dial

Unlike the vintage version of the Rolex Root Beer, the Ref. 126711CHNR has a black dial instead of a brown one. At first, a black dial doesn’t sound anything special. But wait until you see what’s on the hour markers and on the hands. 

To match the brown and black bezel, the Root Beer’s dial is filled with 18K rose gold accents. These can be found on the hour markers and the hands. Apart from that, the text that says “GMT Master II” is printed in gold just above the 6 o’clock position. This additional detail separates the Root Beer from the rest of the GMT Master II collection as they have white markers and hands.

In my opinion, the combination of the gold accents with the bezel is jaw-dropping. This even gave the watch a warm and retro feel to it. And despite the toned-down look, this watch can still stand out and make heads turn.

When it comes to legibility, the 2018 Root Beer delivers. In fact, it is equipped with Rolex’s own Chromalight display, which features long-lasting blue luminescence. This will allow the wearer to read the time even in low-light conditions.

Rolex Everose Rolesor

The Material

One look at the watch and you know that it’s partly made with rose gold. But did you know that it is not your ordinary gold? Indeed, Rolex is fond of creating their own proprietary materials like the Oystersteel. But in the 2018 Rolex Root Beer’s case, they used the Everose Gold which is very similar to rose gold.

But why make a new metal and not just use ordinary rose gold? You see, unlike yellow, rose gold is not 100% gold. It is also mixed with silver and copper metals. Our problem lies with the last ingredient. Basically, copper can change colour over time when it is exposed to saltwater and chlorine. And Rolex doesn’t want that to happen.

Rolex wanted to ensure that your watch looks new even decades after you first wore it on your wrist. So they created and patented an exclusive 18K pink gold alloy which they called Everose gold. While Rolex is secretive about its formula, what we know is that it’s made with at least 76% gold and around 2% platinum.

According to the Swiss watchmaking giant, this alloy will retain its sheen, lustre, and hue for years to come. Additionally, its colour will not be affected by external factors like saltwater, etc.

The Movement

As usual, the movement of the 2018 Rolex Root Beer is something to write home about. This GMT watch upgraded from the old Calibre 3186 to the new Calibre 3285. Certainly, the new-generation movement is jam-packed with technology and innovations. To demonstrate, it even had 10 patent applications over its development period.

Among its notable updates are the greater resistance to shocks and magnetism thanks to its Paraflex shock absorbers and Parachrom hairspring. According to the brand, the Parachrom hairspring is up to 10 times more accurate than your average hairspring when it is subjected to shocks.

To add, the Ref. 126711CHNR uses the Chronergy escapement which has a 15% improved efficiency, as well as a high-capacity barrel. What this means is that Rolex was able to improve the power reserve up to 70 hours compared to the previous 50 hours.

And like the other Rolex movements, the Calibre 3285 is certified by the COSC. In fact, it is even twice as good as what the COSC requires in a mechanical chronometer watch. It has a precision rating of -2/+2 seconds per day.

Root Beer Oyster Bracelet

The Bracelet

Many models of the GMT Master II collection come with the Jubilee bracelet. Apart from that, the original model of the Root Beer also comes with that bracelet. The 2018 Root Beer, however, comes in a different one — an Oyster bracelet. Sorry, Jubilee bracelet fans! The upside is that it is not like your ordinary Oyster bracelet because of the two-tone colour scheme.

To demonstrate, the two outer links are made with the usual satin-finished stainless steel with polished edges. Meanwhile, the centre links are made with 18k Everose gold that stays consistent with the colour scheme of the whole watch.

Another upside is the Easylink 5mm comfort extension link system. This makes it easy for you to adjust the size of the bracelet and achieve an excellent fit as it lets you adjust the strap by 5mm. With this, there’s no need to choose between a too loose and too tight fit.

Furthermore, the bracelet also makes use of the Oysterlock folding clasp. This adds an extra layer of security and prevents the bracelet from accidentally opening.

Pros and Cons of the Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR

Pros

1. It tells accurate time.

As mentioned above, the 2018 Rolex Root Beer uses a COSC-certified calibre. In fact, it passed the requirements with flying colours. With that said, you don’t have to worry about adjusting the time every now and then.

2. The GMT Function is useful.

It is common knowledge that the Rolex Root Beer Ref. 126711CHNR was initially made for pilots. However, non-pilots can also find this complication useful. If you’re someone who travels frequently, then this function can make your life a lot easier.

3. The watch will always look pristine.

There’s something special about having a watch in mint condition. And believe me when I say that buying a second hand Rolex Root Beer feels like getting it straight from the factory. Thanks to the Root Beer’s materials, your Rolex watch can look new even after the 1000th time you’ve worn it.

Cons

1. It is hard to acquire.

This is the most common problem among Rolex models. Apart from the expensive price tag, it would take some effort to find someone willing to sell their watch to you. And if they do agree to sell it to you, chances are they’re going to let it go for twice or even thrice the SRP.  It’s even harder for the Rolex Root Beer because it is considered as one of the “hot watches”.

If you are decided on getting a Root Beer, be prepared to spend some time browsing the internet for good deals. It might take only a few days if you’re lucky. Sometimes, it might take weeks or even months. However, one thing is for sure — the effort will all be worth it once you start wearing it.

2. It’s not exactly the same as the vintage model.

The vintage and 2018 models of the Rolex Root Beer have a few resemblances. However, the similarities aren’t enough for vintage lovers who want to get as close to the original model as possible. A few differences between them are the metal bracelet, the dial colour, and the shade of the bezel.

Rolex decided to give the 2018 Root Beer model a modern and trendy design. So if you’re aiming for the retro aesthetic that the first Rolex Root Beer offers, then the 2018 model may not be for you.

How to Check if a Rolex Root Beer is Authentic?

Now that you’ve decided to get your very own Rolex Root Beer, it is important to know how to find an authentic one. This is especially important if you’re going to buy second-hand from the Internet.

Obviously, Rolex is one of the most counterfeited brands in the market. In fact, there have been a lot of high-quality fakes that are difficult to distinguish. With that said, here are a few reminders before handing out your hard-earned cash.

1. Buy from a trusted seller.

When browsing watch forums, you would often see the phrase “buy the seller”. What this means is that you should buy from trusted people. This will minimise your chances of getting a fake Rolex Root Beer.

Before sealing the deal, check out the seller’s history of good transactions, reviews, and feedback. It also helps if they are already known in the watch community so keep your eyes open for the most highly recommended seller in the group.

2. Have it checked by an expert.

One surefire way to know if a watch is authentic is by having the experts look at the inside of the watch. What they would do is check if the movement inside is a genuine Rolex movement. Apart from that, they will also examine the reference and serial numbers engraved.

For this, you can ask the nearest Rolex service centre to authenticate the watch for you. But if there are no Rolex SCs around, you can also ask your trusted watchmaker. It is best not to attempt to open the back of the watch yourself especially if you have no experience in repairing watches.

3. Look for the sweeping second hand. 

Many watches have hands that tick. This is not the case for Rolex. In fact, if you observe its seconds hand, it should sweep and run smoothly. If it jumps from one place to the next, then chances are it’s fake. Apart from that, it should not make any ticking noise. 

The sweeping movement of the second hand is caused by Rolex’s high-quality movement. And even if a replica uses a Swiss-made calibre, it is still difficult to achieve the continuous sweep that the original has. However, there might be some high-quality counterfeits that can mimic the sweeping movement. To make sure, you can take your investigation further and have the movement checked by an expert like in the previous item on this list.

Rolex LEC
Photo from Rolex Forums

4. There should be a crown on the crystal.

Another way to check a Rolex’s authenticity with only the naked eye is by searching for the etched crown. You should be able to see a small crown in the crystal just above the 6 o’clock hour marker. This is called the Rolex LEC (Laser Etched Crystal) or the Rolex Hologram. This detail is easy to miss so make sure that you have good lighting when searching for it.

It is also important to note that it was only in 2001 that Rolex started etching their crown logo on their watches’ crystals. Which is why this is applicable to the 2018 version of the Rolex Root Beer and not the vintage model.

Rolex Cyclops

5. Check the cyclops.

If there’s one thing that informs a watch enthusiast that a watch is a Rolex even from afar, it’s the cyclops. In fact, this is one of the easiest ways to spot a fake Rolex. Models that have a date complication should have a magnifying cyclops positioned right on top of the date window.

This glass should magnify the date by 2.5 times its original size. Many counterfeiters can never get this right. They either magnify too much or too little.

Apart from that, producing the cyclops takes a lot of money, which is why a lot of counterfeiters ignore this detail or cheat their way around it. For example, instead of creating a real magnifying glass, they enlarge the print of the date itself to give the illusion that it’s as big as the original. This is the reason why it’s necessary to check from the side if the print has a normal size.

Rolex Root Beer bezel

6. Play with the bezel.

One of the defining characteristics of the GMT Master II is its bezel. When tinkering with it, the bezel should turn both in the clockwise and counter-clockwise direction. It should also be adjustable in hourly increments. When you listen closely, you should hear a subtle yet high-quality click.

A lot of counterfeits cannot compare with the original when it comes to quality. Sometimes, the bezel on a fake Rolex Root Beer can only be turned to one direction. Apart from that, adjusting the bezel is not as smooth as the original. There’s also a chance that the tone of the colour and the Arabic numerals are not as refined as the real one.

7. Inspect the rehaut.

The rehaut is one detail that many counterfeiters miss. So another way to check if your Rolex Root Beer is authentic is by observing the inner rim between the dial and crystal. If you can see an engraving that says “Rolex” over and over again, then it’s a good sign.

But do note that Rolex only started engraving the rehaut in 2004. So this item does not apply to the vintage Rolex Root Beer models.

Final Notes

Rolex continues to impress the watch community with their 2018 model of the Root Beer. Although it is not an exact copy of the vintage model, its features are still something to admire. To add, the upgrades are not just limited to its exterior. The Swiss watchmaking giant has fitted this watch with modern technologies that can keep up with everyday demands.

All in all, the 2018 Rolex Root Beer is a watch that will definitely spice up your collection. It is no wonder why a lot of collectors search high and low for this model.

 

Can’t get enough of the Rolex GMT Master II? Check out our guide on the Rolex Batman colourway!

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