Some Rolex watch nicknames are used almost as much as their official names. You don’t need to remember them all – but this guide identifies some of the most popular Rolex nicknames that have been given to watches due to the colour of their dials and the bezels that surround them. Some Rolex nicknames are obvious – others have a deeper meaning and so to make this guide easier to break down into bitesize chunks, we’ve compiled them into three different categories; Rolex nicknames from the Submariner watch collection, the GMT-Master collection, and a category for those nicknames belonging to other collections. Let’s get started…
The Rolex dial nicknames given to watches from the GMT-Master collection are quite obvious, so we’re kicking the guide off with a nice easy one. True to the colours of the popular soda company, the Rolex “Pepsi” GMT-Master watch has a GMT bezel with a half blue and half red decoration. The ref. 6542 was first launched in 1955 and has since become a popular collectable to own. Originally the “Pepsi” bezel was crafted from Bakelite before being replaced by aluminium. Nowadays the “Pepsi” bezel is crafted from Cerachrom and features in both the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II range. Rolex watches with this nickname also go by the name BLRO bezels, which are French for bleu/rouge.
Originally, the “Root Beer” bezel was brown and yellow and made from aluminium. The references 1675/3 and 16753 were fitted on a steel and yellow gold bi-colour metal bracelet until Rolex replaced these with bezels crafted from brown and black ceramic. The Rolex “Root Beer” ref 126715CHNR is fitted on an Everose gold bracelet, whilst the ref 126711CHNR features a steel and Everose bracelet. The CHNR name that some collectors use for the Rolex “Root Beer” watch is short for chocolat/noir.
When the “Coke” bezel made its debut on a Rolex watch on the GMT-Master II ref 16760, its red and black colour became an instant hit in 1983. The ref 16710 followed in 1989, before becoming discontinued. Rolex never made a Cerachrom bezel for these models, they were always developed from aluminium. Although the Coke colours are white and red, the red and black colour scheme of the bezel, when paired with its steel case, echoed the look of a Coke bottle.
The black dial of the Rolex GMT-Master II ref. 116710BLNR, when paired with a half black and half blue bezel, mimics the iconic colours of the fictional Marvel character, Batman. The Rolex nickname has become a favourite amongst collectors and in short is known as the BLNR, short for bleu/noir in French. The Rolex GMT-Master II “Batman” was only ever developed with a Cerachrom bezel and features the familiar luminous hour markers of the classic GMT-Master watch, together with a cyclops date at 3 o’clock.
This is the nickname given to the Rolex GMT-Master II ref 126710BLNR, which replaced the “Batman” watch. Although still featuring the steel case topped with a blue and black 24-hour GMT bezel, it was fitted on a stainless steel Jubilee bracelet and due to its dressier style, adopted the nickname Rolex “Batgirl” in 2019.
Another GMT-Master II watch – this time featuring a thicker case to accommodate a new and improved automatic movement. The ref 16760 allows for two time zones that can be set independently. The Rolex “Fat Lady” is also known as the “Sophia Loren” watch and featured a “Coke” bezel surrounding a black dial with a red-coated GMT hand and a cyclops lens covering a date window at 3 o’clock.
Kitted out with a “Root Beer” bezel, the Rolex GMT-Master ref 16753 also goes by the nickname “Clint Eastwood” and that’s because this popular GMT watch was worn in several movies by the famous actor, particularly the 1982 Cold War film, Firefox. It was fitted with a two-tone Jubilee bracelet crafted from yellow gold and steel, and boasted the famous “nipple” dial, which was characterised by its raised hour markers crafted from gold and filled with luminous material.
The clue is in the name, of course, this Rolex dial nickname comes from its rich blue display adorned with gold elements, lume-filled hour markers and hands, and a cyclops date at 3 o’clock. The Submariner ref 16803 is a two-tone 1980s dive watch that became a mainstay in the brand’s catalogue thereafter. Regardless of their specific model number, however, blue dialled Submariner watches are generally nicknamed “Bluesy” watches by devoted collectors.
Named after its striking green bezel that surrounds a black Submariner dial, the Rolex “Kermit” reference 16610LV was launched in 2003 to mark the 50th anniversary of the much-loved Submariner. The model was nicknamed after the famous green frog, with a green bezel crafted from aluminium.
True to its instantly recognisable shade of green, the Rolex “Hulk” nickname was given to the Rolex Submariner ref 116610LV, which replaced the ref 16610LV. It was Rolex’s choice to develop the green bezel from Cerachrom this time, giving the rotating feature extra resistance from colour fading often caused by lots of exposure to natural light over time. It was not just the deep green bezel that defined this Rolex watch nicknamed the “Hulk”, however. The dial too was finished in the same Hulk-inspired green hue.
The Rolex “Smurf” nickname came about in 2008 when the brand decided to release a white gold Submariner with a vivid blue dial that was reminiscent of the TV characters. The Rolex Submariner “Smurf” ref 116619LB also featured a matching blue unidirectional rotating Cerachrom bezel for legible and efficient measuring of elapsed time. The watch was coined the nickname “Smurf” not long after its release by avid Rolex watch fans and features a cyclops date window at 3 o’clock, a screw-down crown to secure its water-resistant capability, and a robust Oystersteel bracelet.
Before the Rolex “Zenith Daytona”, the popular chronograph watches running between the years 1963 to 1988 had always run on a manual winding movement, but the “Zenith Daytona” marked the start of a new generation, with a watch powered by an El Primero movement manufactured by Zenith. From 2000 onwards, however, Rolex Daytona watches were powered by the brand’s in-house manufactured Calibre 4130. Those developed between 1988 until 2000 were therefore nicknamed the Rolex “Zenith Daytona”.
The Rolex “Daytona C” was a hugely anticipated watch last decade. It arrived in 2016 with a stylish Cerachom bezel in black and went by the reference 1166500LN. Two versions were on offer - a white dial and a black dial iteration – both of which were surrounded by the same black Cerachom bezel and both having been crafted from stainless steel, acquiring the nickname “Daytona C”.
The Daytona “Paul Newman” is by far one of the most popular and widely recognised nicknames in the entire history of Rolex watches. The star’s personal watch was sold at auction at Phillips Auction House, at a final price of $17.75 Million US Dollars, becoming the most expensive Rolex watch in the world. The Rolex Daytona “Paul Newman” has a special type of dial known as the Exotic dial officially.
The Rolex “President” nickname is given to the Day-Date watch and was launched in 1956. It is not just the clientele known to have sported the Day-Date on their wrist that gave this iconic Rolex watch its nickname. Although political leaders and presidents such as J F Kennedy and his successor Lyndon B Johnson were seen wearing a Rolex Day-Date, the watch also gets its name from its President bracelet designed, at the time, excessively for the Day-Date watch.
Although noted for accelerating the popularity of the TAG Heuer Monaco watch, Steve McQueen was also partial to a Rolex watch. The very first Rolex Explorer II ref 1655 was initially believed to be his choice of watch but it was later revealed he was, in fact, that proud owner of a Submariner watch. Despite this, the nickname stuck and the Explorer ref 1655 took the nickname “Polar” thereafter.
When James Cameron completed the first-ever solo dive to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench in a submersible called the Deepsea Challenger, he wore the Deepsea ref 116660 on his wrist. The D-Blue dial has now become associated with this nickname, with its blue-to-black gradient dive display for daring underwater exploration.
Lastly, the Rolex “Thunderbird” nickname was given to a Datejust watch and paid homage to the Rolex watches supplied to the United States Air Force demonstration squadron, who began using the Datejust for its reliability and legibility during the 1950s. It featured the famous Turn-O-Graph bezel and so Rolex took full advantage of this marketing strategy, creating some models that displayed the Thunderbirds logo on the dial. As a result, the Datejust Turn-O-Graph carries the “Thunderbird” nickname.
To find out more about which Rolex hold their value you can read more of our guides where we cover all Rolex Nicknames or our classic guide to the Day Date models and our comparision with their sister brand: Rolex vs Tudor.
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