Coke or Pepsi? Personally, I’ve always liked both – as long as it’s not the lily-livered diet version
And the same applies for watches too: both Coke and Pepsi bezels are great (and that’s before we even get into root beer) just as long as they have a definite purpose behind them. One clear purpose could be to highlight a GMT movement: an essential tool for travelling, so that you can instantly see the difference between home time and local time. Rolex started the trend in the 1950s, when the GMT Master was originally developed for Pan Am pilots. But there have been many alternatives since, which don’t demand Rolex-sized wallets either.
Squale 30 ATMOS 1545 Coke Bezel GMT Divers Watch
This one is rather special, as it’s only available from Squale authorised dealers (such as WatchGecko) rather than directly from Squale themselves: the Italian-Swiss brand that also supplies the divers of the Italian police force. This watch offers classic GMT looks in a package that represents incredible value at £879. For that you get a tried and trusted Sellita GMT movement, 300 metres of water resistance, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, as well as a bright lume that enables you to tell the time at any time of day (or night). This might just be the perfect package.
Rolex GMT Master
Of course, no feature on this topic would be complete without the watch that started it all: the original (and some would say best) Rolex GMT Master. As well as introducing the GMT movement in 1954, Rolex also showcased another distinctive characteristic on this model: the ‘cyclops’ date bubble (which first saw the light of day on the Datejust a year earlier). These watches featured the Pepsi bezel, with red representing daylight hours and blue representing night. From the 1970s onwards, you could have a bezel in all sorts of other shades: root beer fans, take note. The GMT Master is an icon, but you certainly pay for the privilege.
Tudor Black Bay GMT
The 41mm Tudor Black Bay GMT is just as much of an icon as the Rolex GMT Master – and to many eyes, less fussy – but with a price tag that comes in under £3000. More importantly, it has pretty much the same functionality, with all the traditional Black Bay virtues added in as well. This is a watch that feels at home more or less anywhere. The colours are a bit more muted than the bright red and blue found on the Rolex Pepsi, which makes it less shiny and also means that it will age well (it looks particularly good on a leather strap). The ideal compromise?
Yema Superman Worldtime GMT Coke
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Superman. With its distinctive crown and crown guard, any Yema is likely to be a polarising watch: you either get it or you don’t. But thanks to its enduring association with the French Air Force, this is a watch that has all the right heritage. It features a red and black Coke dial, within what is a very familiar-looking package. The movement is an in-house Yema 3000 with a GMT function– unusual at this price point (£899) – and of course you get a bezel lock that is unmistakeably Yema. Whether that’s a useful thing is another debate entirely.
Tag Heuer Aquaracer
At 43mm, the Aquaracer is an imposing timepiece, but one that’s always going to be high up the list for consideration by anyone looking for a Pepsi GMT. This actually comes with a Pepsi or blue and black bezel combination (which is also offered by Rolex on the GMT Master) but the unique ridged dial means that the Aquaracer can never be mistaken for anything else. With plenty of functionality thanks to the well-known Calibre 7 movement, 300 metres of water resistance and competitive pricing (around £2500) it’s another brilliantly versatile all-round sports watch.
Certina DS Action GMT
The Certina DS Action GMT also measures in at a fraction over 43mm, making it the largest watch here. You can have either a Coke or Pepsi variant, in a distinctive case with a Powermatic movement. There’s even a green and black version, if that’s more to your taste. At around £835 the Certina represents great value for money, and with its roots in the nineteenth century, there’s plenty of heritage too. Which makes it perhaps all the more surprising that this isn’t a brand with the recognition it deserves (despite some high-profile motorsport sponsorships in rallying and Formula 1). Definitely worth a look for an alternative choice.