I am happy to report, the new Rolex collection has been officially unveiled for Basel 2014. I have to give it to Monochrome because some of his predictions were correct.
Rolex decided to bring back the Red/Blue Pepsi bezel GMT-Master II for this Basel 2014 as I suspected, but in all 18kwg not stainless steel. Close but no Cigar!
Nobody was able to achieve two colors in ceramic until Rolex did it last year at Basel 2013 with the Day/Night Blue/Black GMT-Master II in stainless steel.
I knew from seeing the Day/Night GMT-Master II last year, that Rolex had achieved the impossible and the other colors were on the way.
I was really hoping to see this watch in steel, but this is the sheer brilliance of Rolex, to leave us wanting what we can’t have for the moment and making sure our hearts and minds are heavily vested for the next year.
So let’s get back to this watch, the new Red/Blue ceramic Rolex GMT-Master II pays tribute to the original GMT-Master that Rolex created in 1955 for airplane pilot’s to tell time simultaneously in two time zones.
The original from 1955 was first introduced in a Red/Blue bezel made of transparent Plexiglas, painted half red and half blue on the underside. This method of production gave a certain depth to the bezel, as the color showed through the Plexiglas.
Then in 1959, the two original colors remained and the Plexiglas insert was replaced by one in anodized aluminum once the manufacture of a two-colour insert in this material had been mastered. Over the years, other variations were released, likebrown and gold on Rolesor (steel and gold) models, or burgundy and black on the GMT-Master II launched in 1982. For all the purests out there the red and blue bezel remains the signature feature of this model.
Rolex decided in 2005 to release the first GMT-Master II model in an all black ceramic bezel model in stainless steel. One of the disadvantages on the older GMT-Master II models were that the colors would fade in the sun. Believe it or not, the vintage models with faded bezels today are highly sought after and collectible. Ceramic is a material with exceptional strength and durability: it is virtually scratchproof, resistant to corrosion, and its color is unaffected by ultraviolet rays.
I would like to sincerely applaud Rolex for this technical achievement because Red, typically, is a color for which there are unstable mineral pigments to create a Cerachrom component. Somehow, Rolex managed, in the first instance, to produce a red ceramic according to a secret process. But this innovation represented only half the journey – or, more precisely, took the brand only half way to manufacturing the emblematic red and blue Cerachrom insert.
To achieve the second part of this equation in getting the color blue, half of the red ceramic insert is colored blue. The color is achieved by impregnating the part of the insert representing night-time hours, between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., with a controlled quantity of a solution of chemical compounds. The solution is added before sintering at more than 1,600 °C, when the ceramic acquires its mechanical resistance properties as well as its color. In the course of this firing, the ceramic densifies and the added compounds react with the basic elements of the red Cerachrom insert to conjure up the final blue color.
By making this watch available in 18kwg makes it very special because 18kwg is expensive and is at a price point that is not accessible for most.
Many argue the Rolex GMT-Master II with ceramic bezel is quite possibly the finest execution of a modern day tool watch today.
Technical specs of the Rolex GMT-Master II blue/red ceramic bezel
Oyster (monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown), 40 mm
18 ct white gold, satin and polished finish
Screw-down with Rolex fluting
Bidirectional rotatable 24-hour graduated, with two-colour Cerachrom insert in red and blue ceramic, engraved numerals and graduations coated with platinum via magnetron sputtering (PVD)
Screw-down, Triplock triple waterproofness system
Integral part of the middle case
Scratch-resistant sapphire Cyclops lens (2.5x) over the date, double anti-reflective coating
100 metres (330 feet)
Please Note: On July 25, 2016 I was in LA on vacation and had a chance to try this watch on at my authorized retailer. I was blown away. It really looks and feels like a modern day version of the original GMT-Master. It’s a great weight, looks amazing and the blue/red ceramic bezel is fantastic. The only thing is that it’s made out of 18k white gold. The price tag is $38,250 which is over 4 times that of the stainless steel version blue/black ceramic bezel which is a bit out of control. The plus point is that I believe this watch will be discontinued soon. This has NOT been officially released by Rolex. If this is true it gives me hope that one day Rolex will manufacture this in stainless steel at a more reasonable price point!