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Rolex 'Root Beer'

A Rolex GMT Master ‘Root Beer’ on jubilee bracelet

Clint Eastwood is one of the most recognisable actors in film, starting out in westerns he moved into more general action films and even comedy. By the late 70s Clint was one of the most recognisable men on the planet, and so Rolex decided to give him a watch.

This was not unusual at the time. Rolex’s marketing strategy was to give watches to famous people, then market the watch to people who wanted to be like that celebrity. One of many was Eastwood.

He chose a GMT Master. This is a watch with a fourth hand that rotates once every 24 hours and points to a scale on the bezel. The bezel can moved so in effect the watch can show two time zones at the same time. It was developed in the 50s for Pan Am pilots, and soon became a fixture in Rolex’s catalogue.

Colour wise Clint’s watch is in what is known as ‘Root Beer’ although this is not official. It has a brown dial and the bezel is dark brown and yellow. The case is a mixture of stainless steel and yellow gold, as is the jubilee style bracelet. A subtle and unusual pallet that just sort of screams 70s.

Fast forward to the 1982 film ‘Firefox’ and Clint is playing a pilot on an undercover mission into the Soviet Union to steal a top secret prototype aircraft. Clearly seen a several points in the film is the Root Beer. Now the GMT was first marketed to pilots and Eastwood’s character needs to keep track of time zones. The watch fits the character and looks good.

Two years later and we come to ‘Tightrope’ Clint plays a detective on the trail of a serial killer. On his left wrist is the Root Beer GMT. Here the watch fits not only with Eastwood’s character but the colour pallet of New Orleans where the film is set.

Not long after this film Eastwood started to wear a Rolex Datejust as his everyday watch. He still does to this day. So it it seems that he had retired the Root Beer in favour of something smaller and less complicated.

But a decade after ‘Tightrope’ came ‘In the Line of Fire’ where Eastwood played a secret service agent and he once more pulled out the trusty Root Beer. This would be the swansong for the watch, it has not appeared since.

Eastwood’s Root Beer is something of an enigma, like the man himself. While not rare the two tone Root Beer is unusual. The watch itself seems to have held up well over the years he wore it. Sometimes the bezel will fade Clint’s watch still looks as good in ’94 as it did in ’82 this in spite of being used in sunny California and New Orleans. In the end it seems the watch no longer fit with the times.