In March, we asked you to share the story behind your first Rolex with us. After submissions closed on March 29th, we had originally only planned to publish the winning entry. However, upon reading the many amazing stories you submitted, we quickly realized that one story simply was not enough. So, from now through the end of the year, we will be posting more of our favorite submissions from our community!
The first story came from Eric of Austin, Texas. You can read the touching story behind his Rolex Datejust here.
This time, professional diver and helicopter pilot Ed of Australia is sharing the action-packed story behind his GMT-Master II “Pepsi,” which he has had for 14 years.
My GMT-Master 2
I first became aware of the quality and heritage of Rolex watches when I was in my very early 20s, working as a dive tech in the North Sea diving industry. Many of the working divers and ex-divers now working topside had COMEX Rolexes on their wrists, as well as Sea-Dwellers and a scattering of Submariners. In my last year at sea, I was offered a two-year-old Submariner No Date for £400, but like an idiot, I declined, as I had some airline tickets to pay for! I still carry that regret to this day; some nights, I wake up screaming about how stupid I’d been.
Ten years later, I found myself as a Captain working for a North Sea helicopter company flying out to North Sea oil rigs and ships. I wanted a watch that I could trust with my life when all went wrong—something clear to read and not too bulky to wear with my flying drysuit. The only watch that ticked all my boxes was the GMT-Master 2 with a Pepsi bezel—a watch I loved the classic look of, with its colors and style
I was in the process of selling my house, and I managed to get the new buyer (a customs agent who was moving from Gatwick Airport to Aberdeen Airport) to pay another £2,500 as my lawyer told him he had to “up-his-bid” to get the house. Little did he know, he was the only one bidding! With the extra £2,500 in the bank, I walked into my local Rolex dealer and purchased my GMT-Master 2 in the Pepsi colors. That was 14 years ago. Since then, I’ve flown in Norway, the UK, Australia, East Timor, and Poland and traveled the world for work in Scandinavia, the UK, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. My GMT-Master 2 has always been there, keeping me right with the time in both the local country and in GMT for the aircraft documents and ATC position reports.
In 2010, while on the helideck of an oil rig, I went below deck for a quick “comfort break,” and on the way down the spiral staircase, I met the out-going workers racing up the spiral stairs and heading to the helicopter. I grabbed the center column to brace myself and felt a pinch on my left wrist. When I looked at my wrist, I saw the clasp was slightly bent, and I felt sick! On arrival back on base in the Kimberley region, I called Rolex Sydney to get a price for a new pin, and I was informed very politely that I had to purchase a whole new clasp part for $400. I was then asked, “Are you going to Asia soon?” I responded that I was off to Singapore in a week’s time. Their response: “Well, pop into Rolex on Orchard Road, and they will be happy to help you.”
A week later, I was standing in the Rolex service center on Orchard Road and having my watch fixed. While there, I was offered one of the best coffees I’d ever had, presented with the Rolex symbol dusted in chocolate powder on the foam. Thirty minutes later, my watch was presented back to me, having received a slight polish, and the bill…………$200.
Six years after I bought my GMT-Master 2, I decided to have it serviced, so I flew down to Sydney, popped into Rolex on George St., and handed it over. I was met by a fantastic lady who made me feel very welcome in the office. I said goodbye to my watch then went off to buy an Omega Speedmaster while my watch was away for a full service. That purchase didn’t go down well with my wife, but she never brought it up again. Ten weeks later, there was a knock at the door, and there was my beloved GMT-Master looking brand new with all the little scratches polished out and a new Pepsi bezel insert. Wow! I had forgotten how faded the red part had become in the tropical sun of the top end of Australia and East Timor.
I’ve been flying helicopters out to oil rigs and ships for nearly 25 years now, and to celebrate this, I’ve put my name down for a new Rolex Explorer 2 in polar white. However, with the surge in interest in this brand over the last ten years or so, I reckon I’ll be waiting a while. It’s a shame, as I originally wanted the Explorer 2 when I worked offshore since it was different from all the other Rolexes worn offshore at the time.
As for my GMT-Master 2, that will remain with me forever, and I’ll wear it a majority of the time because of its beautiful looks and style.