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.