Rolex. An early, fine and very rare stainless steel dual time automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, bracelet and COSC certification
On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT wil… Read more 6542 GMT BacheliteRolex GMT-MasterNo other watch so immediately evokes the glamourous world of 1950s international air-travel as the Rolex GMT-Master. Advertised at the time as being “the ideal watch for air-pilots, ships’ captains, travelers and businessmen”, the GMT-Master has a fourth arrow-tipped hand for the display of a second time zone with corresponding 24-hour numerals on the bezel. The model was developed at the instigation of Pan American Airlines (Pan Am) who asked Rolex to produce a watch on which two time zones could be read simultaneously. Originally, pilots set the additional hand to Greenwich Meantime, hence the origin of the model’s name “GMT-Master”. Lot 205 is an extremely rare example of the first reference 6542 in production between 1954 and 1959. The distinctive red and blue bezel of this and later models has become nicknamed the “Pepsi” by collectors. Lot 206 is another rare GMT-Master, reference 1675 in gold dating from the 1970s.
Rolex. An early, fine and very rare stainless steel dual time automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, bracelet and COSC certification

SIGNED ROLEX, OYSTER PERPETUAL, GMT-MASTER, REF. 6542, CASE NO. 482’987, CIRCA 1959

Details
Rolex. An early, fine and very rare stainless steel dual time automatic wristwatch with sweep centre seconds, date, bracelet and COSC certification
Signed Rolex, Oyster Perpetual, GMT-Master, ref. 6542, case no. 482’987, circa 1959
Special notice

On lots marked with an + in the catalogue, VAT will be charged at 8% on both the premium as well as the hammer price.

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

The present example of reference 6542 is offered by an important Italian private collector. It impresses with the exceptional condition of its dial: it is one of those rare instances where the passage of time seems to have had hardly any effect on the overall looks of the dial. It maintains it luxurious glossy sheen absolutely unspoiled, as are all the scales and designations.

A landmark in the history of Rolex, reference 6542 is the first GMT reference, and the beginning of one of the most legendary and appreciated wristwatch lineage. Its genesis is absolutely technical: in the early fifties intercontinental flights were becoming more and more common, and the pilots were experiences fatigue and discomfort due to jet lag. As a countermeasure, physicians at Pan Am World Airways suggested the management to provide their pilots with a mean to know both the local time and the time in their home time zone. Rolex was chosen to develop a timepiece which would display both local and home times. Such a watch shall furthermore have characteristics which would not interfere with airplane navigation, for example an antireflective bezel, to eliminate the risk of glaring. Thus the bakelite bezel, later traded in for a metal one as bakelite was found to be very brittle and prone to cracking.
It is now apparent that the watch designed by Rolex for this project was not only technically compliant with PanAm demands, but it was also a landmark of watchmaking design, so much that it soon became one of the most globally recognized and appreciated timepieces by any brands. It goes without saying that an example of reference 6542 complete with its wonderfully preserved bakelite bezel - a very rare occurrence because, as mentioned above, bakelite bezels were easily damaged - is a rare occasion for the savvy Rolex collector to own the original iteration of such a landmark model.

More from Rare Watches and a Rolex Afternoon

View All
View All