You may have already heard of watches with names that do not belong to them, often because of a color combination that refers to something that is part of our everyday life.
Why do you think there is this need, especially when it comes to Rolex, to approach a particular model, to give an example, to a superhero? For resale? To increase the appeal and popularity of the model? Or is it just a way to get a quicker understanding of what watch you’re talking about?
But the real question we want to ask you is: how many of these nicknames do you know?
Today, we at Italian Watch Spotter, want to create a short list of all the most famous models that, with their names, drive the market crazy, both from availability and prices.
Rolex GMT master “Pepsi”
Perhaps the most famous, probably among the first to be baptized with a name that does not really belong to it.
We can define “Pepsi” all Rolex GMT Masters that have a red and blue bezel insert. Of course, the combination with the name was born as a result of the obvious chromatic similarity between the logo of the famous American drink and the bezel insert itself.
There have been several references to feature this type of insert, starting with the famous 6542 (the first Rolex GMT developed by Rolex in collaboration with Pan-Am in the mid-1950s. You can find a valuable insight into this model on our website.
A feature for which we remember with joy this jewel of the 50s is its middlename, “Pussy Galore”, derived from the Bond girl who wore it in the 007film “Goldfinger”.
Today, Rolex still has a Pepsi in the catalog. It’s the GMT Master II reference 126710BLRO presented in a super jubilè version at Baselworld 2018. (You can see it in the first photo above the “Pussy Galore”)
Its list price is 8.600 €, but we find it on the market at prices that are around 18.000 to 19.000 €. For prices and curiosities related to the older references, we invite you to read the first part of the history of the GMT, while waiting for the second to be released soon.
Rolex GMT master “Batman”
Always remaining on the Rolex GMT Master theme, here is a second chromatic variant of the model, the one with black and blue bezel insert: the “Batman“. The link to DC Comics superhero, who sported his signature black and blue costume, is clear.
It’s curious to point out that this chromatic variant has always been in the background of the “Pepsi” but, following its production output (we are talking about the old ref.116710BLNR), its value has greatly increased. We can find it on the market at a price of around 14.000 to 15.000 €.
At Baselworld 2019, Rolex also presents its heir in a super jubilè version: the ref. 26710BLNR. As you might expect, the market price is very different from the list price, which is 8.600 € due to the lack of availability. We can find it at a price of about 17.000 to 18.000 €.
Rolex GMT Master “Coke”
Perhaps the least appreciated of the GMT family, but still deserving of a nickname.
It is a variant of the “Pepsi” that has a Red and Black bezel insert. The name comes from the chromatic resemblance to the logo of another fizzy drinks giant, Coca Cola.
Unlike the other two, the “Coke” is only available in the aluminum insert version and can be found on the market at a price of about 10.000 €.
This configuration was also the first to appear on the GMT-Master II series, born in 1983, which takes, in addition to that of the drink, also the nickname “Fat Lady“, because of its new thicker case with larger bezel and crown. Needless to say, we can speak of “Fat Lady” only with “Coke“insert, of course.
Rolex GMT master “Tiger Eye/Rootbeer”
Probably the nicest two-tone GMT.
We’re talking about the Rolex GMT Master ref.16713 commonly referred to as “Tiger Eye” or “Rootbeer”.
The first name comes from its chromatic composition, which recalls that of a precious stone called “Tiger Eye“.
“Rootbeer” instead recalls the color of a soft drink widely consumed in the United States, with a characteristic brown tone.
It is still one of the most sought-after vintage GMT on the market, with a resell price in the order of 11,000-12,000€, not a surprise at all.
Rolex Submariner “Hulk”
Continuing the trend of superheroes, this time from Marvel Comics, we meet one of the most popular Submariners of the moment: the famous “Hulk“.
It’s not difficult to understand where its nickname comes from, as this model features a green dial and ceramic bezel. The Rolex Submariner ref. 116610LV “Hulk” is still available in Rolex catalogues, at a list price of 8.300 € , but it is also difficult to find. Its resell price is in the order of 13,000 to 14,000 euros.
Rolex Submariner “Anniversary”
This particular reference was presented and marketed in 2003 with the stated intention of celebrating the 50th anniversary from the birth of the Submariner, introduced in 1953.
However, we can differenciate two versions of this Submariner ref. 16610LVwhich we report below, both with two special features in common, namely increased hour indices and minute hand, as in the Yachtmaster.
It is the first version, known to most for the number 4 on the bezel, different from the next version. “Fat four”, as you can see, is precisely because of the number, the tip of which seems cut or crushed, compared to that of the successor.
Other references can be found in the characters of the bezel, the “Swiss Made” print and in the absence of the RRR, which is the ring, above the dial, with the repeated Rolex inscriptions.
The younger brother of the
“Fat four“, is the next version, released around the second half
of 2004. It features the modern RRR ring, thicker writings on
the bezel, more marked prints on the dial and a “Swiss Made”
inscription with different layout than the Submariner “Fat four”.
The joking name “Kermit” comes from the “Kermit the frog”, a Muppets’ character, protagonist of numerous memes on the web and drawn by Jim Henson.
Keep in mind, however, that for both the “Kermit” and the “Fat four” we can still talk about Submariner “Anniversary”, a name dictated only by ref. 16610LV.
Although the similarity is great, the prices for these watches are quite different. The “simple” “Kermit” is around 15,000€, while the “Fat four” is almost unfindable under 20,000€.
(The price variability of each of the two obviously depends on the conditions and the set.)
Rolex Submariner “Smurf”
Among the least seen on the wrists of fans, perhaps for the price (list 34,400€), perhaps for the narrow market. We’re talking about the Rolex Submariner ref. 116619LB, nicknamed “Smurf” because of the ceramic dial and bezel, both of which are colored in blue.
It is the only Submariner in Rolex catalogues to have bracelet and case completely made of white gold. Unlike the “Hulk”, you can find it from resellers at a lower price than the list price, around 28,000 to 29,000 €.
Rolex Submariner “Polipetto”
Do you remember it? We mentioned it among our favorite lots from recent Geneva auctions.
The name “Polipetto” (Italian for “Little Octopus”) is easily understood by looking at the dial, which shows the badge of the Italian Police Diver Unit, an octopus. For more curiosities about this special Rolex Sea Dweller, or even just to know the price at which it was sold, we refer to our previous article.
It is in fact Rolex’s first truly complicated watch, produced for just 4 years, between 1948 and 1952, with an oversized case (38mm) hence the nickname “Padellone” (Italian for “Big frying pan”).
It features an automatic movement (which is surprising for an annual calendar) and has been produced in just a thousand examples, mainly in yellow gold and steel, making rose gold ones rarer.
(The Perpetual only writing comes from the fact that it doesn’t come in an Oyster case. It isn’t therefore a Bubbleback, although it has a domed back.)
The Rolex 8171 is certainly among the most appreciated by enthusiasts, given its almost perfect size, historical period and complication. For this reason, the best models are often sold at auctions, with five-zero figures, reaching almost one million for some pieces.
While in 1952 the boxer Rocky Marciano was winning the world champion title and becoming a sports star, there were other stars in Geneva that Rolex focused on.
With the introduction of reference 6062, Rolex, always looking for simple and innovative solutions, decided to go against the trend by creating one of the most complicated watches in its history, quite different from the previous ref. 8171.
Enclosed in a 36 mm Oyster case with twinlock crown (thus waterproof), there was an A260 caliber capable of managing an annual calendar with date, month and day, at the same time as a lunar phases calendar. Yet it was not so much this extraordinary complication that surprised collectors and made them fall in love even today, but the curious star-shaped form of hour indices, which immediately earned him the nickname “Stelline” (Italian for “Little Stars”).
And stellar is also its price, with auction estimates always ranging between 1 and 2 million euros.
Rolex “Ovetto” and “Ovettone”
Whether we speak of “Ovetto” or “Ovettone” (Jokingly Italian for “Little egg” and “Big egg”), we always refer to the Rolex Bubbleback, which can be translated to Italian as “domed back“, from which they both take their name.
The Bubbleback was the first Rolex watch, unveiled in 1933, to be truly subacqueous (not “diver“), and not just water resistant. (Do you want to find out more about this topic? We have an article for you here!)
Its fortune, however, does not lie solely here: in 1931 the maison patented the first Oyster Perpetual movement. It’s a big leap in quality for the brand, which today is almost synonymous with “Oyster Perpetual”. The first timepiece to feature this movement was the “Ovetto“, whose domed back serves precisely to make room for the rotor.
Let’s now turn to the distinction between “Ovetto” and “Ovettone“.
The first, the “Ovetto” has a 32mm case and is the oldest of the two, available in different configurations like seconds at 6 or central, with or without radium paint, cased in yellow gold, pink or steel and many other features, ranging from reference to reference and from model to model.
The “Ovettone” instead, was introduced later, in 1945, and will lead the way to the Datejust, Rolex iconic model. (Several, like the one in the photo, will already be featuring the “Datejust” print on the dial.)
This watch, with its 36mm case, will feature a date window from the first reference 4467 (although we can find Ovettoni with no date), becoming a very different watch from the “Ovetto“, which only shares the shape of the caseback.
The quotes of these models are the most variable out there, starting from a minimum of just over 2.000€ to get above 30.000€. The variability depends mainly on conservation, cohevalness, set and dial configuration.
One of the strangest and rarest Rolexes ever, with estimates of 1000 units in yellow gold and just 100 in white gold. Animated by the Beta21 movement, which was developed by a consortium of 20 Swiss brands (including Rolex) with the aim of responding to the Japanese quartz crisis, the ref. 5100 had a very short life between 1970 and 1972.
With a clearly 1970s design, its edgy lines in solid gold immediately reminded collectors of the rough and excessive nature of a wealthy Texan oil tycoon, thus defining its nickname.
If you’re looking for the perfect watch to match your cowboy hat and boots, you can get a yellow gold model between 15,000-18,000€, if you instead prefer a super rare white gold Texan, quotes are above 100,000€, solely at auction.
Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman”
The King of Rolex Daytonas, born with reference 6239, is to date the flagship of any vintage collection that wants to be talked about.
The name comes, of course, from the actor Paul Newman, who used to wear it mainly while racing cars. As with the “Polipetto”, we have also written an article in our Vintage Watch Spotter series for this masterpiece, which you can find here. If you want to learn more about the Daytona in general, you can find the first part of the Daytona Guide on our website.
We can find it in different configurations and at different price points, but we will cover it all in a next episode…
Rolex Explorer II “Steve McQUeen” a.k.a. “Freccione”
It’s again an actor’s turn, but not only, for this Rolex Explorer II.
For any enthusiast it is impossible to confuse the Explorer II, with its typical colorful hand in the shape of an arrow, which has become so iconic as to give a nickname to the model.
From 1971 onwards, the Rolex Explorer II ref.1655 went down in history as “Freccione” (Italian for “Big Arrow”), and later became “Steve McQueen“, by the famous actor. The biggest feature of this nickname, however, is that Steve McQueen has never been seen with the watch on his wrist, but we have several photos of him with a Submariner.
For those who have asked, the Rolex Explorer II has a very simple complication. Next to the common time, with hours, minutes and seconds, the orange hand (indicated as red on the first advertisements) marks the time of the day in 24 hours, so as to understand if it is day or night in any situation.
The prices in today’s market are above 15.000€, although we can consider the 1655 on the same level as the aforementioned “Paul Newman”.
Although the link between watches, comics and fizzy
drinks is not as well marked in history as that with actors, the names we
presented to you are a practical demonstration of how watchmaking intesects on
everyday life not only with its use and role.
For all your curious friends, for you and for those who are still approaching this world, we hope to have made it clear and, why not, to have brought a smile.
What about you? Do you know any other nickname?
Written by Alessandro M., Andrea C. and Lorenzo S.