We were not alone in our predictions for a new Rolex GMT-Master for this years Baselworld. But I do not think anyone was ready for what Rolex actually had in store. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Starting things off Rolex surprised everyone with the new Tudor Black Bay GMT. Yes, technically this is not a Rolex, but the relation between the two brands is undeniable. While not many have expected this move from Tudor, it makes an awful lot of sense. It is the first GMT ever released from Tudor, and vintage enthusiasts will be happy to see that the iconic Pepsi colour palette was chosen.
Moving on to the real highlight though, the new Rolex GMT-Master is from a technical perspective very close to its sibling. It performs the same tasks, has the same power reserve, and is a rather trivial millimetre smaller at 40 mm diameter. Differences next to brand specific details can be found in the crown guard, a ceramic instead of steel Pepsi bezel, and most notably a presidents bracelet. Funnily enough, one difference between the two models that I fail to understand is that while the Rolex is waterproof up to 100 meters, the Tudor goes all the way to 200 meters. Now I am not saying that this will actually make any difference in the real world, but it is a bit weird that Rolex didn’t decide to trump or at least match the Tudor in this regard.
So what do these two watches mean for Rolex? Well, first of all this double release seems to be an ever growing indicator of Rolex being sick of its many imposters, I’m looking at you, Steinhart. At 3,400 compared to 7,700 Euro the Tudor offers great value for the price and shows an acute awareness of its customers as well as demonstrating a sensible spread in the watch market under 10,000 euro. From a reputation perspective the polished president’s bracelet as underlines the luxury feel Rolex is going after, whereas Tudor seems to have taken over their old job of the ‘affordable’ utility watch.
Ceramic bezels on the GMT master have been around since 2005, and Pepsi colour combination was available on a white gold version in 2014. Rolex has therefore been sitting on this model for a while, and clearly, want to give it the full spotlight as shown by rather meager introductions in their other collections. The GMT never really left, but it has been over a decade since we last had a steel Pepsi, and finally, it feels like their collection is complete again. Patience pays, not only for us but for Rolex just as much.