Rolex collecting has developed its own jargon over the years. Here’s our exhaustive guide to the nicknames, unofficial designations and Rolex’s own brand lingo, from Kermit and the Hulk to Oystersteel and Double-Reds.
The nickname given to the black-and-blue GMT-Master II bezel combo launched in 2013. AKA ‘Bruiser’ or 'BLNR' after its reference number 116710BLNR
A stylised bracelet attachment on Forties Oysters. Image courtesy of Antiquorum, showing a ref. 5018 from 1948.
Vintage case style from 1930s-50s with a distinctively domed caseback to accommodate the winding rotor. Especially bulbous examples gain the additional nickname "Ovettone", literally meaning 'Big Egg' in Italian.
A Rolex-developed ceramic material used for its “Professional” models, virtually impervious to scratches, with a colour unaffected by UV rays. As of 2013, available in multiple colours - see "Batman", "Cola" and "Pepsi".
The name given to all black-and-red GMT-Master II bezel combos, be they aluminium or ceramic (see Cerachrom; "Batman"; "Pepsi"), first produced in 1982.
Another name for the “Root Beer” colour-scheme GMT-Master ref. 1675, famously worn by Clint Eastwood, even though his most famous character sported a Timex as he blew away the bad guys. This example from 1970 was estimated between $4,000 and $6,000 at Antiquorum back in 2016.
The Sea-Dweller Submariner 2000 from the late 1960s, with the latter nomination appearing as two lines on the dial, both in red (see also ‘Single-red’). This ref. 9315 example from 1977 was sold at Antiquorum in 2014.
Rolex’s own term for its in-house-cast 18ct pink gold alloy, whose jealously guarded formula ensures peerless durability and brilliance. And a name plucked straight from fantasy fiction.
Ref. 16760 GMT-Master II made between 1983 and 1988 with red and black bezel only, so-named for its case being 1mm larger than its counterparts. This fine 1984 example was sold at Antiquorum in 2012.
A 1971 Explorer II 1655, named after the Italian for “big arrow” in reference to the extra hour-hand with the large arrow tip. AKA “Steve McQueen” due to a hotly disputed rumour that the King of Cool himself wore one.
Submariner from the late Fifties to Nineties with dial printing finished in gold. This ref. 6536 was sold at Antiquorum Hong Kong in 2016.
A 1977 ref. 1665 Sea-Dweller, whose characteristic red text had been replaced with an all-white font across the four lines of text.
The green-dial, green-Cerachrom-bezel Submariner launched in 2010 to replace the Kermit. Reference 116610LV to its colleagues.
Ultra-rare version of Rolex’s only ever combination of chronograph and full calendar, known (also colloquially) as the Dato-Compax and named after the 1968 triple-gold-medallist Olympic skier who wore one, and went on to be a Rolex ambassador. Produced between 1940-1960 in four references, of which the 6236 was the last and, perhaps, most desirable. This ref. 6036 steel example was made in 1951.
Black-dial, green-bezel Submariner launched in its 50th-anniversary year of 2003, often preferred over the Hulk’s greenwash. Also known as Reference 16610LV.
Classic style of hours hand ‘dot’ first introduced with 1953’s Explorer 6150, ideally shaped to hold lume material. This example was sold for $10,200 at Antiquorum in 2010.
Style of dial with applied, raised dots at 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 o’clock, often in ‘Root Beer’ colour scheme as seen here.
The name given to Rolex's polymer-based straps, first introduced on the Yacht-Master 40 in 2015 and increasingly available across the Oyster range. It has a flexible thin metal blade made from a titanium/nickel alloy at its core, encased in high density elastomer. Just don't call it a rubber strap.
The name Rolex uses for its stainless steel (since 2018). It is the same 904L grade steel that Rolex has used since 1985, which is polished to a fine standard. Since adopting the name Oystersteel there is no implication that Rolex's case finishing has improved; the name is more about formalising the existing production processes.
A white-gold ref. 116619 Submariner launched in 2008 with royal-blue dial and bezel. All a little bit stealth-wealth.
A type of Daytona 16520 with brown, discoloured chapter rings, named after a piece from auctioneer Osvaldo Patrizzi’s personal sale of 2006. This 1994 example was sold at almost twice low estimate at Antiquorum for CHF30,000.
Highly collectable – in fact the most valuable – varient of Daytona chronograph, so-called for the blue-eyed star’s much-photographed penchant for the “exotic” dialled version of ref. 6239 (circa 1967), given to him by his wife when he took up motor racing. Many cite his flop film Winning (1969) as its first appearance on Newman’s wrist, but it was actually the cover of an Italian magazine that confirms the model’s provenance. Many will also talk about pushers and bezels, but the only thing definitively marking-out a Newman Daytona from a normal example is the dial: an art-deco font for the subdial numerals, with square-ended hash marks, plus a small “step” in the dial between the outer minute track and the centre of the dial. Some feature the colour red, adding an appropriately racy nuance.
The original blue-and-red GMT-Master bezel combo from the 1950s, designed in collaboration with Pan-Am airlines, revived in 2014 as two-tone single-piece ceramic.
The white-on-white dial Reference 16570 Explorer II. Pictured is a 1998 example.
A suitably all-yellow-gold bracelet Day-Date launched in 1956, earning its nickname from the countless U.S. presidents, dignitaries, and world leaders often photographed wearing this piece, starting with Dwight Eisenhower.
The ref. 6542 GMT-Master without crown guards, named after Honor Blackman’s Bond girl, who wore this watch in the third 007 film, Goldfinger (1964). Pictured is a 1957 example sold for CHF30,000 at Antiquorum in 2013.
A name patented by Rolex in 1933 describing its bicolour assembly of yellow-gold or Everose bezel, winding crown and centre bracelet links with steel middle case and outer links.
Continuing the theme of describing GMT-Masters in terms of the drinks they resemble, the Root Beer is a brown-dial-with-brown-bezel version of the ref. 1675/3 GMT-Master, introduced around 1963, famously worn by Clint Eastwood, hence its “Dirty Harry” synonym.
The Submariner 1680 (the first with date) with ‘Submariner’ in red writing, produced from 1966–73. A 1969 example pictured, sold by Antiquorum in 2008 for CHF30,000.
Where to start? As noted under "Freccione", McQueen did not actually wear an orange-hand Explorer II. What he did wear were Submariners; mainly this reference 5512, a rarer chronometer-certified version of the 5513. His actual watch - pictured - was sold in 2009 by Antiquorum for $234,000. Since then, however, "the Steve McQueen Submariner" has come to be associated with another watch he may or may not have ever worn, the reference 5513 that sold in 2018 following fire damage, restoration, and no small amount of controversy over its provenance.
The rotating-bezel Turn-O-Graph version of the Datejust from the Fifties, of which Rolex produced special marked dial versions for the team pilots of the USAF’s hotshot Thunderbirds display team. This 1950 ref. 1625 example sold at Antiquorum for CHF6,875 in 2015.
Referring to early-Fifties through early-Sixties sports models, with an underline found at 12 o’clock, denoting the use of tritium for the luminous material, when Rolex was transitioning from using radium. This ref. 6084 made circa 1951 sold at Antiquorum for $3,750 in 2014.