Accompanied by an undated and unnumbered Rolex Guarantee, a Rolex fitted presentation box and outer packaging.
With the beginning of transatlantic jet flights in 1956, travellers appreciated the fact journey times were reduced from 13 hours to 7, however they suffered from new phenomena, jet lag. Early airlines like Pan American worried about the possible effects of jet lag on their pilots and after research, the management advised them to keep on home time while overseas. Because crews needed to know the local and their home time, Pan Am and Rolex worked together to create a timepiece with an additional hour hand. The model was named GMT-Master after the world's standard time, Greenwich Mean Time.
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 to its underside. This material was chosen to reduce reflection which would disturb pilots. 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 against a more resistant metal version.
Mainly cased in stainless steel, the few examples of the early GMT Master series in gold and with the original bezel are highly sought after collector's watches.
Reference 6542 is illustrated in 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by J. Goldberger, 2008, p. 228