What’s In a (Nick) Name? Backstories of The Watch World’s Playful Monikers

Root beer. Starbucks. Pepsi.

No, you have not accidentally stumbled upon the beverage section in the middle of placing your online Instashop/Door Dash/ delivery-service country equivalent order from the closest KFC. (Although if you had, we would recommend adding the chicken pot pie. It’s *chef’s kiss. *) What you just read are three common nicknames for Rolex watches, but as many watch enthusiasts know, these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to horological sobriquets. Let us take a look at a few – both highly recognizable and not – and delve a little more deeply into how they became part of watch world pop culture.

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Breitling Navitimer 1806 - Fried Egg via chrono24

Breitling-Navitimer-1806---DWW-1194x640.jpg

Breitling Navitimer 1806 - Fried Egg via chrono24

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Rolex Stelline via watchlover

Rolex-Stelline---DWW-1194x640.jpg

Rolex Stelline via watchlover

“Fried Egg”

Raise your hand if you know what this one is. (And do not worry if you’re lying; we can’t see you.) The nickname belongs to an early Breitling Navitimer, reference 1806, and there is some debate as to why and how it got its name. Some say the 48mm case size and color resembled a frying pan and that the two white sub dials (with one hand being bright orange) gave off a breakfast vibe. Others say it was the curved shape of the glass when viewed from the side that looked like an egg in a pan. Either way, the name stuck, especially amongst those in the vintage collector community.

 

“Stelline”

Another vintage watch that is considered a bit of a unicorn is the Rolex reference 6062, known by the nickname, “Stelline.” No, “Stelline” was not some single-named French actress from the 1950s who wore the watch in low-budget Jean-Luc Godard film. On the contrary, the name means, “little star” in Italian, and was given to the watch as a nod to its star-shaped hour markers.

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Rolex daytona Paul Newman via tempusorologi

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Rolex daytona Paul Newman via tempusorologi

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Omegab Speedmaster Moonwatch via chrono24

Omega-Speedmaster-Professional-'-DWW-1194x640.jpg

Omegab Speedmaster Moonwatch via chrono24

“Paul Newman”

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you can clearly bypass this nickname explanation, but if you’re a newbie who really doesn’t know the story, here it is in a nutshell: in 1968, a Rolex Daytona reference 6239 was purchased by Newman’s wife, Joanne Woodward, and gifted to the actor/race car driver with the engraving, “Drive Carefully, Me” on the back. The creamy white dial and three black sub dials of this particular model eventually became synonymous with the actor who made it famous. To close out the story, Paul Newman’s “Paul Newman” sold for a whopping $17,800,000 at a Phillips auction in October of 2017.

“Moonwatch”

Unlike the “Fried Egg” above, the nickname of Omega’s “Moonwatch” is relatively cut-and-dry. In 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to step foot on the moon. NASA selected an Omega Speedmaster with an asymmetrical case as the watch the men would wear, and Omega has since made anniversary versions of the model which remains popular even today.

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Seiko Snowflake via seikoi

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Seiko Snowflake via seikoi

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Rolex Pepsi

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Rolex Pepsi

“Snowflake”

This is a tricky one because the nickname of the Grand Seiko “Snowflake” (in the occasional conversation) can sometimes be confused for the “Snowflake Hands” nickname given to the Tudor sport models which use them. But in this particular instance, we are going to reference Grand Seiko model SBGA211. Given its nickname, as legend has it, because the dial is reminiscent of freshly fallen snow, the Grand Seiko “Snowflake” is the newest member of this list as it was only introduced in Japan in 2005 and then globally in 2010.

“Pepsi”

There was no way we could round out an article about nicknames without mentioning the iconic Rolex “Pepsi” (aka, the GMT-Master and GMT-Master II). The “Pepsi” is likely the most popular watch nicknamed for its bezel color(s). Unlike the watches listed above which are dubbed what they are because of their pop culture history, famous owner, hour marker shapes, diameter size, or dial color and texture, the Rolex “Pepsi” seemingly started the trend of nicknaming watches solely on the colors of its bezel. However, the watch was not originally made with the carbonated soft drink in mind, but rather, for pilots helming the now defunct Pan-American World Airways (or “Pan-Am” for short). Let us face it, the watch is a GMT… not exactly sure those working the Pepsi bottling plants in North Carolina would have had a need for a GMT function, right? But eventually, because of the Pepsi logo (and maybe because Pan-Am went bust in 1991), the iconic GMT-Master gained its new moniker; one that has stuck now for ages, even to the point where when a different company introduces a split red and blue bezel (like Tudor or even Timex), those novelties are sometimes referred to as the same.

But we all know the truth… there is only one original Pepsi.

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