In the world of horology, there exists a cryptic language involving manufacturers' reference numbers — a sequence of digits that can make even the most dedicated watch aficionado's head spin! But fear not, nicknames can come to your rescue. Rolex iterations, in particular, boast a host of nicknames, a veritable shorthand that adds personality to the timepieces we cherish. However, these endearing monikers are not chiselled into Rolex's official archives; these are often considered the brainchild of the creative minds of the watch-collecting community.
So, here’s a round-up of the intriguing monikers for Rolex's most celebrated models.
ROLEX KERMIT, HULK, AND STARBUCKS
In 2003, Rolex defied convention with the Submariner LV; it added a daring green bezel to its iconic design. Thus, the Rolex Submariner 16610LV was born, with "LV" being a nod to the French words, "lunette verte", meaning a “green bezel”.
The Rolex Kermit stands out with its luminous gold markers against a black dial and a vivid green aluminium bezel. Its self-winding Rolex Caliber 3135 movement remained active till 2010, elevating its status as a coveted pre-owned treasure. The "Kermit" nickname draws inspiration from the popular character, Kermit the Frog, known for his green persona, mirroring the unique green bezel of this Rolex edition.
In 2010, the Rolex 116610LV "Hulk" succeeded the "Kermit" with a vibrant green dial and Cerachrom bezel. Its 40 mm case houses the Rolex Caliber 3135. It is named after the famous Marvel character because of its bold green colour and robust design. The "Hulk" dial's distinctive lustre and the unidirectional green bezel set it apart from other creations, with the production ending in 2020. It is available in the pre-owned market though.
In 2021, the Rolex 126610LV "Starbucks" nickname joined the Submariner clan. The watch flaunted a black dial, adorned with green hour markers and luminous hands – a stylish tribute to its lineage. The pièce de résistance? A green Cerachrom bezel insert that ties it all together in a harmonious visual symphony. But hold your latte – "Rolex Starbucks" isn't some official barista-timepiece collaboration. It's a nickname that watch enthusiasts brewed up, inspired by the watch's green colour, reminiscent of the iconic coffee brand logo. It's a quirky reminder of how the global visual culture shapes our world, in this case, one timepiece at a time.
In 2008, Rolex celebrated its centenary year with a groundbreaking Submariner version. It flaunted a case and a bracelet, crafted from the elusive 18 ct grey gold, a metal that holds a darker allure, compared with its white gold counterpart. With an attitude of “no re-plating required”, Rolex's trademark quality shone through the Ref. 116619LB.
The innovation continued with a blue dial and a Cerachrom bezel, marking a debut for white gold Submariners. This blue was more saturated than a summer sky, thereby earning the iconic “Smurf” title. The hefty white gold and Super Case design held its own, emphasising its 40 mm elegance. A nifty glide lock clasp added wrist-fit finesse while the lacquered blue dial, the Maxi-Dial design, and the platinum-coated numerals set it miles apart from its contemporaries. As 2020 rolled in, Smurf's retirement caused ripples in collectors' circles, cementing its regal status. Twelve years of limited existence now propel its rarity into premium price realms, a testament to its timeless desirability.
ROLEX GREAT WHITE
In 1977, the Sea-Dweller series took a stylish turn with the arrival of the "Great White" model. Earning its name from the striking white text, reminiscent of the Rolex logo, this timepiece carried forward the legacy of its predecessor, the legendary "Double Red" Sea-Dweller. Collectors are particularly drawn to the "Great White" due to its remarkable distinction as the final Sea-Dweller edition to feature a plexiglass crystal.
The "Great White" had five variations: Mark 0, Mark I, Mark II, Mark III, and Mark IV. Mark 0 is the rare unicorn with circular engravings and a mysteriously absent case number. Mark II flaunts a charismatic "rail dial", crafted by the Stern Company, the creative minds behind the COMEX Ref. 1665 dials. Mark III and Mark IV engage in a subtle face-off with numeral and text nuances. The "Great White" bid adieu to the Reference 1665 lineage, yielding the stage in 1978 to the Sea-Dweller Ref. 16660, a revamped version with impressive upgrades. While modern iterations dazzle in gold, the vintage Ref. 1665 retains an air of tasteful finesse — a classic choice for the discerning horological palate.
ROLEX BATMAN AND BATGIRL
In 2013, the Rolex GMT-Master "Batman" edition, characterised by its distinctive blue and black Cerachrom ceramic bezel, made its debut. The watch was nicknamed "Batman" because of its striking resemblance to the hero's cowl; this timepiece, referenced as 116710BLNR, represented a notable step in the timepiece’s evolution. Initially restricted to stainless steel GMT-Master II models, this watch maintained an aura of exclusivity, akin to a concealed identity. Noteworthy enhancements from its GMT-Master II 116710 precursor included the incorporation of the Caliber 3186 movement and a resilient blue Parachrom hairspring, designed to withstand shocks. The "Batman" iteration also featured a sophisticated blue 24-hour hand, harmoniously complementing its bezel.
The GMT-Master II Ref. 126710BLNR is the latest incarnation, complete with its suave Jubilee bracelet and the classic Oyster option. A 2019 facelift introduced a sleeker case design and the Caliber 3285 movement provided it with a 70-hour power reserve — after all, heroes don't clock out early! The "Batgirl" with its elegant Jubilee bracelet is a celebration of Rolex's storied heritage with a modern twist, and the return of the Oyster bracelet in 2021 was like a reboot for true fans. “Batman” and “Batgirl” are a dynamic duo, revelling in tradition and modernity.
Rolex Pepsi watches are renowned symbols of watchmaking excellence, celebrated for their unmistakable dual-colour bezels that deftly mirror the hues of a refreshingly frosty can of Pepsi. Their history can be traced back to the 1950s, marking the genesis of the esteemed Rolex GMT-Master lineage. Leading this heritage was the iconic reference number 6542, proudly showcasing the inaugural red-and-blue bezel design.
The following decade saw the rise of reference 1675, leaving a lasting impression on subsequent generations. The GMT-Master II series took the centre stage, with references 16710 in the 1980s and 16700 in the 1990s. The modern era brought back the contemporary reference 126710BLRO in 2018, featuring a Cerachrom ceramic bezel and an enhanced movement. Notably, Ellen DeGeneres and other Hollywood stars are known to have collected this timepiece. It has appeared in both TV and films, with James Spader and Ben Affleck sporting the timepieces in NBC's TheBlacklist and Gone Girl respectively. Hollywood stars Keanu Reeves, Dustin Hoffman, and Mel Gibson have also proudly showcased the GMT-Master Pepsi on screen.
ROLEX FAT LADY/SOPHIA LOREN/COKE
Let's now turn the clock back to 1983, when the Rolex GMT Master II sauntered into the spotlight, flaunting a transformation that would make its forerunner — the Rolex GMT — a tad envious. Watch enthusiasts lovingly call Greet Reference 16760 the "Fat Lady". Now, if you think the moniker only refers to its size, think again. It's all about the GMT Master II’s capability of juggling three time zones like a maestro; its predecessor was still working out the choreography for just two. To pull off this globetrotting, Rolex whipped up the Caliber 3085 movement, complete with a quickset hour hand. Naturally, complexity comes with a side of heft — in watchmaking lingo, at least.
So, the GMT Master II, Ref. 16760, got a beefed-up movement and a roomier case to boot. But, instead of fretting over extra inches, Rolex turned it into a style statement with bolder crown guards and a wider bezel. That's how the "Fat Lady" nickname came into being. But wait, there's more: Rolex incorporated Renaissance aspects, such as elegantly curved lines that create balanced beauty. And thus, this timepiece also earned a second nickname, "Sophia Loren", channelling the irresistible charm of the legendary Italian actor. Additionally, it gained popularity as the "Coke" because the colour combination served as a vivid reminder of the black soda bottles, adorned with red labels.
ROLEX ROOT BEER
The Rolex GMT-Master's "Root Beer" nickname has its roots in a version that sported a brown dial and a bezel with a hint of gold-brown bling. This colour combination struck a chord, leading various GMT-Master models to vie for the title over time, triggering a horological debate, no less. The first "Rolex Root Beer'' was the 16753 model, available with either suave black or dapper brown dials. The name game extended to the ebony dial edition and the 2018 "Tiger Eye" incarnation, famous for its celluloid moments with Clint Eastwood. In 1983, Rolex upgraded the GMT-Master series, launching the GMT Master II with Cerachrom updates, bidding farewell to original bezel colours, including the Root Beer's.
In 2018, the GMT-Master II 126711 and 126715 paid homage to their predecessors with an Everose gold and a two-toned Cerachrom bezel, switching brown for black. Under the hood, the caliber 3285 movement boasted a 70-hour power reserve and a stronger case. This reinvented version blended classic Root Beer charm with modern Rolex finesse. Whether these “newcomers” deserve their "Root Beer" title depends largely on personal interpretation.