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Rolex Fat Lady: Unveiling the Classic Timepiece’s Unique Nickname

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rolex fat lady 16760 review

The reference 16760, also known as the “Fat Lady” or “Coke,” is the first-ever watch released under the GMT-Master II line. As a successor of the original GMT-Master, the two-toned bezel has been a characteristic carried on by this striking luxury watch. 

However, the Rolex Fat Lady isn’t about its black and red ring. Its moniker hints on its thicker case and crown guards. Along with this are innovations that revolutionized Rolex’s GMT watches, which is why Pan Am pilots and NASA astronauts have used the “Fat Lady” and other early models of Rolex GMT-Master. 

With the Rolex 16760 making history and causing a surge in its pre-owned market value, it’s sensible to explore the specifications that drive the high demand for this rare, discontinued watch. Let’s closely examine its case, dial, bracelet, movement, and more through this Rolex Fat Lady review.

The Case

rolex fat lady case

The Rolex “Fat Lady” 16760 led to the revamping of the original GMT-Master collection. It has a particular case design with an approximately 12.7mm thickness, which measures more than many GMT-Master watches’ standard 12mm case thickness. 

In its case, the added proportions weren’t merely aimed to produce a different aesthetic. Rather, this needed to accommodate the improved caliber 3085 movement inside.

This slight aesthetic change makes the GMT-Master II 16760 a Rolex model that protrudes on the wrist, making it distinguishable from other models, despite maintaining the standard 40mm size and 100-meter depth rating for its water resistance. 

Due to the sizable quality of the Rolex Fat Lady, many people were led to describe it as the “Sophia Loren” watch, paying tribute to the famous Italian actress’s voluptuous curves and timeless style.

As with other Rolex watches, the material used for the case is Oystersteel, withstanding corrosion and rust even when used in harsh environments. It also has a secure screw-down case back and a screw-down crown.

The Dial

rolex fat lady 16760 dial

One key feature that distinguishes the Rolex Fat Lady is the vibrant color combination on its bezel that contributes to its nickname “Coke”. In addition to its black and red ring surrounding the dial, the Fat Lady watch face includes large hour markers to ensure optimal readability. Since these are luminous, you’ll also easily tell time, even in low light conditions. 

The Mercedez-style hand is also a noticeable feature, a common trait in Rolex sports watches as well as the Tritium luminescent element on the dial used in many 1980 Rolex watches. Adding sophistication to its look is its applied Rolex logo and date window at 3 o’clock with a Cyclops magnifying lens.

A scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is used to protect all these components. It’s durable, ensuring the watch lasts for years. This material has replaced acrylic crystals, which Rolex has previously used for many of their watches. With sapphire as a replacement, the watch is glossier, less susceptible to scratches, and less prone to aging and discoloration. 

The Strap/Bracelet

rolex fat lady 16760 bracelet

Its Oyster bracelet is consistent with the Rolex Fat Lady’s sporty and durable design — buyers would choose from the three-link Oyster bracelet or the five-link Jubilee variety (the former is sportier while the latter is dressier). Both bracelets have a width at the lugs measuring around 20mm and seamlessly tapering towards the clasp. 

This clasp is known as the Oysterlock safety clasp, which ensures robustness and security. Further, it initially came with hollow end links, but these were replaced by solid end links in newer models. 

Over the years, replacing or modifying watch bracelets has been a norm for those wanting a unique aesthetic. It’s a possible case for many Rolex Fat Lady watches. Especially considering it’s a vintage watch, it’s likely that the ones sold on grey market watches no longer have the original bracelet specifications. 

The Movement

rolex fat lady 16760 movement

The calibre 3085, which Rolex introduced in 1983, is considered a groundbreaking innovation in the movement that operates the Rolex Fat Lady. This mechanism has a thickness of approximately 6.3mm, significantly affecting how sizable the watch had to be. 

The highlight of this innovation is the independently adjustable hour hand, which can track a second time zone as well as a third time zone — an unavailable feature in previous GMT movements, which functioned mainly by rotating bezels to keep track of time zones. Although Rolex compromised on the quickset date function, the new calibre offered the ability to uncouple the hour hand from the GMT hand. This makes it alluring to travelers. 

As Rolex progressed in its watches, the calibre 3085’s presence in GMT watches became short-lived. It was replaced in 1988 by a thinner calibre, the 3185

Here’s a list of the complete specifications of the Rolex Fat Lady’s calibre 3085 movement: 

  • Technology: Breguet hairspring, Microstella precision adjustment with regulation screws, and Kif shock protection
  • Jewels: 27
  • Power reserve: 48 hours
  • Thickness: 6.3mm
  • Diameter: 28.5mm
  • Functions: Seconds, minutes, hours, date, and GMT function

The Competitive Landscape

The Rolex Fat Lady has some stiff competition in the luxury watch market. This section will introduce you to three impressive rivals:

  • Breitling Chronomat GMT A32398101M1A1
  • Tudor Black Bay GMT M79830RB-0010
  • TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 7 GMT WQR7608

1. Breitling Chronomat GMT A32398101M1A1

Breitling Chronomat GMT A32398101M1A1

The Breitling Chronomat GMT A32398101M1A1 is a Breitling-Caliber-32-run stunning timepiece with a stainless steel case and bracelet. This watch also features a bold grey dial and a unidirectional bezel. 

Notable features include:

  • Power Reserve: 42 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, second timezone

2. Tudor Black Bay GMT M79830RB-0010

Tudor Black Bay GMT M79830RB-0010

The Tudor Black Bay GMT M79830RB-0010 is a more affordable alternative to the Rolex GMT-Master II Pepsi watch that bears the same two-tone black and red bezel of the Rolex 16760. Its in-house caliber MT5652 movement ensures that this watch maintains its accuracy and robust performance.

Key specifications of this watch are:

  • Power Reserve: 70 hours
  • Water Resistance: 200 meters
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, second timezone

3. TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 7 GMT WAY201F.BA0927

TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 7 GMT WAY201F.BA0927

The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Calibre 7 GMT WAY201F.BA0927 offers a distinct blue and red bezel in a 12 angular-edged shape. This watch combines elegance and durability with a stainless-steel case, bracelet, and sizable crown.

Other notable features include:

  • Power Reserve: 42-48 hours
  • Water Resistance: 300 meters
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, second timezone

Why Should You Invest?

Rolex has many watches you can rely on for investment, and one that’s particularly giving back substantial returns is its GMT timepieces. While many Rolex enthusiasts quickly suggest that you go for a Rolex GMT-Master II 126710BLRO, the better option would be the first GMT-Master II Rolex Fat Lady 16760.

According to Watch Charts, this Rolex watch has an investment value that has increased an additional S$14,180. For the Pepsi GMT, it only grew an approximate S$11,000 from its original price. These figures may change without notice, depending on the market and economic conditions. Yet, the Rolex Fat Lady still seems to have earned a higher market value than the popular Pepsi GMT watch. 

Its rarity makes the Rolex Fat Lady a timepiece worth adding to your GMT collection. Considering its historical importance, those passionate about vintage watches are willing to pay a high price to get a timepiece like this one. 

Pricing & Availability

Although originally priced at S$4,000, demand and rarity have significantly changed the current market pricing of the Rolex Fat Lady. Currently, you can find the GMT Master II ref. 16760 watches on the pre-owned market, with prices ranging from S$14,924 to S$40,295.

When searching for this original GMT-Master II watch, consider its condition, original box, and papers, as these can significantly impact its value. If it’s in a mint condition and all documents come with it, the watch can command a significantly high price.

However, you may want to ask an important question before deciding. Daisy Shaw-Ellis, Vogue’s Jewelry Director, said you must ask yourself if this is “…something you’ll wear daily…?” If yes, the Rolex Fat Lady would be a great buy. If not, it’s better off as an investment piece.

On another note, knowing that the Rolex Fat Lady is no longer in production, this won’t be found by any authorized dealers anymore, unless a pre-owned Rolex Fat Lady joins the brand’s certified pre-owned (C.P.O.) program, “… a revolutionary move.” in increasing sales, according to Danny Govberg, the chairman of WatchBox. 

However, due to the Fat Lady being rare, the best platform for a vintage watch like this would be the grey watch market, like Singapore’s trusted Watch Exchange. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why Do Rolex Have Nicknames?

Rolex watches have earned various nicknames over the years due to their unique designs, features, and historical significance. Many nicknames stem from the watch’s appearance – such as the “Fat Lady” for the GMT-Master II model 16760, which features a thicker case and crown guards than other models. 

Meanwhile, other nicknames may be associated with famous wearers, like the “Paul Newman” Daytona, or with popular co-branded models, such as the “Pepsi” and “Sprite” GMT-Master, which have bezels resembling the soda brands’ colors.

2. Which Rolex Models Increase in Value the Most?

A few Rolex models have proven to increase substantially in value over time, especially in the secondary market. As stated by Faye Soteri, a senior watch client at The Watches of Switzerland Group, “Rolex is synonymous with luxury….”

Hence, their value continuously increases, especially in the following models:

  • Rolex Daytona: The stainless steel Daytona with a white dial is extremely sought-after and has seen values double or even triple in recent years. Other vintage Daytona models from the 1960s and earlier also command huge premiums.
  • Rolex Submariner: Early vintage Submariner models, especially those with glossy dials from the 1950s and 1960s, have rapidly appreciated as collectors prize their history and aesthetics. Models like the 5513 and 5512 can trade for tens of thousands.
  • Rolex Explorer II: Vintage Explorer II models from the 1970s with the “Steve McQueen” dial have skyrocketed in value due to the McQueen connection and striking orange hand. Models like the 1655 can trade for over S$50,000.

In general, discontinued steel sport Rolexes seem to appreciate the most over time, according to the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based credible newspaper. The New York Times also agrees on this after observing how old or discontinued model Rolex watch prices surge after a new model is introduced. 

Unique dials, bezels, and historical significance make certain vintage references particularly valuable. The demand for Rolex far outweighs the very limited supply.

Final Word

The Fat Lady has been praised for its unique design and significant contributions to the GMT-Master II range of collection. It showcases Rolex’s ability to evolve and refine its models, reaching new heights in style and function.

So, the Rolex Fat Lady is undoubtedly a watch worth considering for those looking to add a distinctive piece to their timepiece collection. Not only does it represent a pivotal moment in Rolex’s history, but it’s also a timeless icon that will never go out of style.

Key Takeaways

  • The Rolex Fat Lady 16760 has a unique appearance due to its thicker case, wider bezel, and larger crown guards. It earned the nickname “Fat Lady” or the more flattering “Sophia Loren.”
  • The Rolex Fat Lady 16760 was the first GMT-Master II watch to feature the Coke bezel, showcasing a red and black color combination.
  • Inside this timepiece, you’ll find the caliber 3085 movement, which necessitated the larger case size to accommodate its upgraded mechanics.

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