The first GMT model, reference 6542, was launched in 1954 and was immediately recognizable by the bright acrylic or bakelite bezel insert with the twenty-four hour markings printed on its underside. The GMT was a timepiece developed in collaboration with Pan Am airways for their pilots, so that they could know both the local time and the time at home. The bakelite material was chosen because of its low reflectivity, a characteristic very useful for professionals who spent most of their time literally above the clouds. The bezel ring was also made of acrylic and coated in an alloy to resemble metal. It then turned out that the flexibility of this material could cause the bezel insert to break and that in very warm environments the printing would often flake off. Consequently, Rolex decided to replace the acrylic insert with a more resistant metal version.
This example of reference 6542 is distinguished by its highly unusual and attractive dial. Dial ageing, especially with Rolex timepieces, sometimes reserves highly appreciated surprised. The mythical tropical dials, where the ageing changes the color of the dial to a more or less strong shade of brown, are the most famous and celebrated example.
This timepiece, however, fascinates even the most knowledgeable connoisseur with its now off-white dial. An incredibly rare form of ageing, the charm imparted by this color to the timepiece is outstanding. The aesthetics of the watch are modified not only by the new dial color alone, but also by how it interacts with the other details of the dial. The luminous markers and hands are now nearly perfectly in tone with the dial, and the gilt designations and scales are much less prominent, so that the entire dial looks more airy and clean.
The timepiece is made even more attractive by its remarkable condition: the case has been cared for throughout its life, still presents the beveling on the side of the lugs, and is covered by a an extremely charming and subtle layer of oxidation. The dial is breathtaking, and the delicate bakelite bezel arrived to us nearly unscathed.