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Accessible Alternatives to the Rolex ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II

Rolex Pepsi GMT-Master II

The Rolex GMT-Master is, put simply, the granddaddy of all traveller’s watches and its successor the GMT-Master II followed in its footsteps to become the epitome of GMT watch design. It combines a second, 24-hour hand with a rotating bezel used to mark a second timezone, split into day/night indication. It was arguably that bezel that made the collection famous; not only did the red and blue sections work as a day and night indicator, but the cool mix of colours also gave it the now legendary moniker of ‘Pepsi Cola.’ So legendary in fact that when Rolex revamped and re-introduced it back in 2018, waiting lists sprang up immediately.

Fortunately, like any icon the Rolex original inspired other watchmakers meaning there are plenty of accessible alternatives to the Rolex ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II. Here then are our top accessible alternatives to the Rolex ‘Pepsi’ GMT-Master II.

Tudor Black Bay GMT

Tudor Black Bay GMT

If you’re looking for a watch that skirts very closely to the aesthetics of the original – and has almost the kudos among collectors – look no further than Rolex stablemate Tudor and their (some might argue more authentic) take on the GMT-Master II. The crown and signature snowflake hour hands give the watch a unique Tudor twist, but otherwise its lovely retro timepiece that hits precisely the right notes. For 2023 Tudor have released an updated version with a white opaline dial that provides a contrast to the Rolex’s typical black dial.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: 79830RB|
  • Case/dial: 41mm diameter, polished and satin finished stainless steel case, white opaline dial|
  • Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)|
  • Movement: Calibre MT5652 (COSC), automatic, 28 jewels|
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 70h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, second time zone GMT hand, date|
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet or black fabric strap with burgundy accents|
  • Price/availability: £3,330 (fabric strap) and £3,590 (stainless steel bracelet), more details at Tudor.

Steinhart Ocean 39 Vintage GMT BLUE-RED Ceramic

Steinhart Ocean 39 Vintage GMT BLUE-RED Ceramic Diver Watch

From afar, this watch might pass as a vintage original with its faux-aged lume and the right numerals, hands and colours. That’s because Steinhart are masters of the art of homage, and the Ocean 39 Vintage GMT is no different. It’s also very well-made, with a ceramic bezel, 300m water resistance and ETA movement. No points for originality, but performance to cost ratio? Out of the park.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: 103-0986|
  • Case/dial: 39mm diameter, stainless steel|
  • Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)|
  • Movement: Calibre ETA 2893-2/SW330, automatic, 21 jewels|
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 38h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, adjustable second time zone, date|
  • Strap: Stainless steel|
  • Price/availability: €760 EUR (approx £660), more details at Steinhart Watches.

TAG Heuer Aquaracer GMT

TAG Heuer Aquaracer GMT

TAG doesn’t have quite the same watchmaking chops as Rolex or Tudor (at least outside of their impressive Heuer 02 calibre) but the Aquaracer takes the GMT in a much sportier direction. With its multi-faceted case and distinctive horizontal stripes across the dial, there’s a lot going on visually and it makes for a high-octane riff on the classic traveller’s timepiece.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: WAY201F.BA0927|
  • Case/dial: 43mm diameter, fine brushed/polished steel|
  • Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)|
  • Movement: TAG Heuer calibre 7, automatic, 21 jewels|
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 46h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT|
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet|
  • Price/availability: £3,150, more details at TAG Heuer.

Timex Harborside

Timex Harborside

There a handful of Timex watches that qualify for inclusion on this list such as the Q Timex Reissue from a few years ago. However, their most recently released watch that qualifies is this, the Harbourside Coast Automatic 43mm. The Harbourside is a faithful homage right down to the Mercedes style hour hand and cyclops lens over the date. It’s also the biggest value proposition here at less than £200 for a watch housing a mechanical movement.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: TW2V72100D7PF|
  • Case/dial: 43mm diameter x 11mm thickness, low lead brass case, black dial|
  • Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)|
  • Movement: Automatic movement, 21 jewels|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date|
  • Strap: Low lead brass bracelet|
  • Price/availability: £180, more details at Timex.

Oceaneva GMT Automatic 1250M

Oceaneva GMT Automatic 1250M

The performance specs of a Rolex just not good enough for you? Oceaneva’s GMT Automatic 1,250m puts the GMT-Master II to shame, combining a classic GMT bezel with a mind-boggling 1,250m water resistance. That’s more than 10x the depth rating of the Rolex. Plus, if you’re interested in some of the other iconic Rolex colourways, the GMT Automatic is also available in Batman and Sprite configurations.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: BK.RD.NH.BL.GMT.ST|
  • Case/dial: 42mm diameter x 15.5mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial|
  • Water resistance: 1250m (125 bar)|
  • Movement: Seiko calibre NH34, automatic, 24 jewels|
  • Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 41h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT|
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet|
  • Price/availability: Pre-order for $249.99 (approx. £200), RRP $999 (approx. £800), more details at Oceaneva.

Baltic Aquascaphe GMT Orange

Baltic Aquascaphe GMT Orange

This one might be a stretch of the imagination at first considering that it has a blue and orange bezel instead of a blue and red one. However, if I were talking to someone in person about the subject of affordable alternatives to the GMT-Master II, I would 100% recommend the Baltic Aquascaphe GMT. It has the same functions as the Rolex while being visually distinct, making it stand out in your collection on its own merit rather than being a design homage.

Price & Specs

  • Case/dial: 39mm diameter x 12mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial|
  • Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)|
  • Movement: SOPROD C125 GMT, automatic|
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 68h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT|
  • Strap: Black or blue tropic rubber strap or stainless steel beads of rice bracelet|
  • Price/availability: €920 (approx. £800), more details at Baltic Watches.

Spinnaker Cobalt Crimson

Spinnaker Cobalt Crimson

As the name of the Spinnaker Cobalt Crimson implies, it has a bezel split between blue and red, instantly giving it a flavour of the Rolex GMT-Master II. However, while the colourway may be similar to the Rolex, the structure of the Spinnaker is actually very different with broad, flat surfaces in an octagonal shape that almost give it a 1970s sports watch look. In some ways, it’s a hybrid between the design codes of the 60s and 70s giving it its own unique appearance for the accessible price of £540.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: SP-5119-4|
  • Case/dial: 44mm diameter x 15mm thickness, stainless steel case, black dial|
  • Water resistance: 300m (30 bar)|
  • Movement: Seiko calibre NH34 TMI GMT, automatic, 24 jewels|
  • Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)|
  • Power reserve: 41h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT|
  • Strap: Stainless steel bracelet with additional black rubber strap|
  • Price/availability: £542, more details at Spinnaker Watches.

Ball Roadmaster Marine GMT Ceramic

Ball Roadmaster Marine GMT Ceramic

You wouldn’t traditionally associate Ball’s highly technical aesthetics with the retro style of a Rolex GMT-Master II. And to a certain extent, the Roadmaster Marine GMT Ceramic has nothing in common with the Rolex except for the iconic blue/red bezel with a black dial. The rest of the piece is pure Ball, even down to the micro gas tubes that form the hour markers and hands and which provide luminescence to the display. It’s also notably more robust than the GMT-Master II with 200m water resistance, 5,000G shock resistance and a scratch and corrosion resistant titanum case.

Price & Specs

  • Ref: DG3030B-S4C-BK|
  • Case/dial: 40mm diameter, titanium case, black dial|
  • Water resistance: 200m (20 bar)|
  • Movement: Ball calibre BALL RR1203-C, automatic, COSC-certified|
  • Power reserve: 80h|
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day of the week indicator, GMT|
  • Strap: Stainless steel and titanium bracelet|
  • Price/availability: £2,700, limited to 1,000 pieces, more details at Ball Watches.

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.