First of all, it’s worth mentioning that having to choose between the Rolex GMT-Master II and Tudor’s Pepsi GMT isn’t the worst problem in the world. Either way, you’ll end up with a stunning Pepsi GMT and quite a few envious glances. Rolex and Tudor are of course sister companies, and they certainly have a similar approach to the Pepsi GMT. However, one of them will cost a lot more than the other. The Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi currently in production is not only more expensive than the Tudor Black Bay GMT Pepsi, but its resale value is also higher. So this leaves us with the question: is the Rolex Pepsi worth that much more than the Tudor Pepsi?
We will look at the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 126710BLRO and the Tudor Pepsi Bay GMT ref. M79830RB in more detail below.
Rolex GMT-Master II Ref. 126710BLRO – “Pepsi”
Pepsi GMT-Master II Key Features:
- Year of introduction: 2018
- Case size: 40 mm
- Material: Oyster steel (904L stainless steel)
- Functions: time with running seconds, date display, GMT Dial: black with luminous hour markers
- Dial: black with luminous hour-markers
- Bezel: bidirectional, red and blue ceramic insert with 24-hour scale
- Crystal: sapphire (flat with Cyclops lens)
- Movement: Rolex Calibre 3285
- Water resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet
- Bracelet/Bracelet: Oyster bracelet or Silver Jubilee bracelet
- Retail price (USD): $9,500 (Oyster); $9,700 (Jubilee)
- Pre-owned price: $23,000 – $25,000 (approx.)
TUDOR BAY GMT Reference. M79830RB – “Pepsi”
PEPSI BLACK BAY GMT Key Features：
- Year of presentation: 2018
- Case size: 41 mm
- Material: stainless steel
- Functions: time with running seconds, date display, GMT function
- Dial: black with luminous hour markers
- Bezel: bidirectional, red and blue aluminum insert with 24-hour scale
- Crystal: sapphire (domed)
- Movement: TUDOR MT5652 movement
- Water resistance: 200 meters / 660 feet
- Bracelet/Bracelet: stainless steel bracelet; leather strap; fabric strap
- Retail price (USD): $3,725 (bracelet); $4,050 (bracelet)
- Pre-owned price: $3,500 – $4,000 (approx.)
The power of blue and red
- Rolex’s BLRO: Bleu/Rouge (blue/red in French)
- Tudor’s RB: Rouge/Blue
- Pepsi” is the nickname for the blue and red border
The blue and red “Pepsi” bezel of the Rolex GMT-Master is a watchmaking icon. It was the first example of what would become the most famous dual time zone watch. For the next six centuries or so, the Rolex GMT was the choice of one form or another.
The original bakelite bezel was soon replaced by an aluminum bezel, which remained in place until 2005, when the aluminum bezel was replaced by various GMT models. That year, Rolex embedded its Cerachrom bezel into that model; however, the company had yet to perfect a way to apply a two-tone scheme to it. Instead, the GMT ceramic bezel was issued in solid black, without the split-color look that had been part of the collection since it was first introduced in the 1950s.
For the next few years, the closest we got to a Pepsi GMT bezel was an extremely expensive example surrounded by rubies and sapphires. However, by 2014, Rolex achieved a way to add a second color to its ceramic insert and a true Pepsi model was introduced. Unfortunately, it was mounted entirely on a solid piece of 18K white gold, putting this legendary watch out of most people’s price range. That’s why the stainless steel Pepsi GMT-Master II, which was relaunched in 2018, made headlines for months on end.
Nevertheless, Rolex’s masterpiece doesn’t exactly go with the flow. Like a little brother who always tries to stay ahead of his older siblings, Tudor made a splash at Baselworld 2018 with its own Pepsi GMT.
Cost of Tudor and Rolex Pepsi
- Rolex 126710BLRO with Oyster bracelet: $9,500
- Rolex 126710BLRO with Jubilee bracelet: $9,700
- Tudor Black Bay GMT with bracelet: $3,725
- Tudor Black Bay GMT with Bracelet: $4,050
Technically speaking, stepping into a Rolex AD and leaving with a Patek Philippe GMT-Master will cost between $9,500 and $9,700, depending on the bracelet design. Depending on the bracelet or strap you choose, a Tudor watch could cost between $3725 and $4050. That’s already a huge gap between the two brands, but as we’ve reported here many times, it’s nearly impossible to get a stainless steel Rolex GMT-Master II at retail. As usual, the downside to the popularity of this model is that demand clearly outstrips supply.
This has translated into huge waiting lists (Rolex doesn’t seem to be helping to distribute as few samples of the watch as possible), in addition to the fact that official retail prices for pre-owned watches have more than doubled, if not almost tripled. An unworn Pepsi GMT-Master II is now going for as much as $27,000 at auction, and if you have that kind of money, you could probably spend a few thousand more and get yourself a Rolex Pepsi GMT in platinum.
About Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi 126710BLRO
- 40 mm Oyster steel case
- Blue and red Cerachrom ceramic bezel
- Black dial with date window at 3 o’clock
- Laser-eye date lens on crystal
- Mercedes hands
- Caliber 3285 with 70-hour power reserve
- Oyster or Silver Jubilee bracelet
- Water-resistant to 100 meters
There’s no denying that Rolex’s Pepsi GMT offering is a beautiful watch. Using 904L stainless steel, now known as Oyster steel, which has a luster not found in other manufacturers, Rolex redesigned the 40mm case for the GMT-Master II with subtly modified lugs and a sleeker overall profile.
The change from the classic three-chain Oyster to the more refined five-chain Jubilee raised some eyebrows when it was released in 2018. However, it helps give the watch a nice vintage vibe and helps distinguish it from the white gold model – which looks very similar at first glance. Rolex has now also paired the white gold model with a blue dial to further distinguish it, while the new steel model retains the classic black dial. However, Rolex has also now added the option of an Oyster strap for the steel GMT-Master II “Pepsi”.
Internally, the residual Cal. 3285 features some substantial updates over the previous Cal. 3186. Most notably, it includes the Chronergy escapement, which first appeared in the latest movement used to power the Day-Date, Cal. 3255. This radical change to the traditional Swiss lever escapement is claimed to increase efficiency by 15%, which, together with a redesigned barrel and gear train, extends the watch’s power reserve to 70 hours. Like all other contemporary Rolex movements, it is (of course) chronometer-certified to the highest level and promises a daily accuracy of +2/-2 seconds.
However, it is the bezel that people come to see, which has caused some discussion. Its color is definitely muted compared to the aluminum bezels of the past. In fact, put this modern model next to the first example with a faded gum wood bezel and there is a clear resemblance. With this in mind, the colors of Rolex’s ceramic Pepsi bezel inserts have changed over the years, with the older versions of the classic red and blue inserts being softer and the more recently produced inserts being more powerful and brighter, although still not to the same extent as the older aluminum inserts.
All in all, the steel Rolex GMT-Master II with ceramic Pepsi bezel is something that should exist in the world (whether you can get it or not) and many Rolex fans are happy with the release of the current version.
About TUDOR BAY Greenwich Time Pepsi M79830RB
- 41mm stainless steel case
- Blue and red aluminum bezel
- Black dial with date window at 3 o’clock
- Snowflake hands
- MT5652 movement, 70-hour power reserve
- Steel, leather or fabric strap
- Water-resistant to 200 meters
If Rolex dipped its little toe in vintage nostalgia, Tudor jumped in with both feet. Straight from the 1950s archives, the case is elegant and simple, with no escutcheon around the oversized winding crown, which only adds to the vintage vibe. at 41mm, it’s also slightly larger than the GMT-Master II, perfect for those who like to add a little wrist to their tool watch.
It will also look familiar to those familiar with the brand’s vintage catalog. The hour and second hands feature the iconic 1969 “snowflake” shape, as does the tip of the red 24-hour hand.
The matte black dial features a vintage-inspired chapter ring, while the bezel insert is serious anodized aluminum. While this could be seen as an updated version of the Rolex Cerachrom, only the aluminum will fade and develop an attractive patina with age, giving the Black Bay some backstory. Here, too, the colors are slightly muted, with TUDOR taking the red and blue hues of the Diver and combining them on the watch’s 24-hour bezel. It’s still an aluminum Pepsi bezel, but it’s much softer than the older Rolex Pepsi GMT watches.
Despite its aesthetic merits, the movement is probably the most impressive element. Rather than being functional (although it does offer a lot), it is an internal mechanism. Going back in time, the main reason why Tudor’s price point (compared to Rolex) is so low is because it uses third-party movements. Not having to spend money on expensive R&D to build its own engines is a huge cost cutter, but since Tudor’s return in 2009, it has struggled to develop in-house movements.
The MT5652 movement in the Bey Bay GMT is one such movement. It is based on the highly refined MT5612, but with the addition of a 24-hour module that offers a three-day power reserve similar to that of the new Rolex Cal.5.3285, and the same 28,800vph balance frequency. This is a typically reliable and precise mainspring, which even has an antimagnetic silicon balance spring. The development of this in-house movement has largely brought Tudor out of the shadow of Rolex, and now the brand is no longer seen as a more affordable option. Currently Rolex and Tudor’s Patek Philippe GMTs are practically neck-and-neck in almost every way – except for price.
Which Pepsi Greenwich Time is right for you? Tudor or Rolex?
So the question is, do you buy a Rolex GMT-Master II or a Tudor Heritage Black Bay GMT?Actually, the better question is, do you buy one Rolex or a couple of Tudors and still have money left over?
The difference in quality between the two is not at all proportional to the difference in price, and it shows. Tudor is a great watch, beautifully crafted and full of period detail enough to satisfy the most ardent purist. Moreover, the final piece of the puzzle, the local movement, is present and correct. Best of all, you can get a Tudor Biwan Greenwich Time for roughly the same price paid as the normal retail price. Even if your local retailer is sold out, you can find a Black Bay GMT online and wear it on your wrist immediately for a small premium (if any). That’s not the case with the Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi. If you want one right away, plan to pay at least 2 to 3 times the official retail price.
However, Rolex is a true icon, something that everyone wants – not only now, but also in the future. This means that if you decide to sell it at any time, it will better hold its value. Most importantly, it has an edge in terms of technology and brand image. You don’t have to “gatekeep” Rolex the way you do Tudor – that has to be a consideration in any luxury purchase (whether we want to admit it or not). At the end of the day, it’s a matter of personal taste. But in the long-running debate between Rolex and Tudor, the gap has never been smaller.