Rolex works in mysterious ways. Some will find this modus operandi annoying and dissociating, and others will experience it as tirelessly fascinating. I myself have slowly converted from the former to the latter group. All this is to say that, when there is something — anything — new from Rolex, I ask myself: “Why has Rolex done this?” When it comes to this article’s subject, the Rolex GMT-Master II 126719BLRO Pepsi with meteorite dial, I think I’ve got it figured out on first sight.
When the first 21st century Rolex Pepsi GMT debuted in 2014, owning a Rolex watch was out of reach for me, and I was nonetheless very excited about this release. I remember being on the edge of my seat and seeing the first official Rolex video of this watch drop. I was astounded when I realized it was exclusively made available in 18k white gold, so priced well over 30k, about four times (!) higher than what steel GMTs retailed for at the time.
In 2018, Rolex dropped the bomb by launching the steel-version Pepsi, sold exclusively on the five-link Jubilee bracelet in an effort to differentiate the steel variant from the much more expensive all-white-gold watch for which customers had been shelling out considerable sums for a number of years. Many would agree that the outrage has been mitigated, but it is true that, even on the Jubilee, the steel Pepsi is a very tempting and extremely appealing proposition for many in the brand’s current lineup.
2019 saw that steel Rolex GMT Pepsi untouched, while the 40mm-wide, 18k white-gold version got an expectedly well received meteorite dial option that is, naturally, not configurable for any other version, just the 18k white gold GMT-Master II 126719BLRO reference. I think it’s fairly easy to see where this might be coming from: Since the steel Jubilee Pepsi’s debut, the 18k white gold Pepsi has presumably dipped in demand — probably to an extent that was noticeable to Rolex itself. In response to this, Rolex might have been seeking a solution that would help set this precious version that much more distinctively apart from the (un-)common man’s steel. I say “uncommon” because, despite its 8,800 CHF retail price, the steel version has been comfortably trading for over double retail out there in the very real world. (Anyone who pays into five figures for the steel GMT is out of his mind, in my estimation.)