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Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 6542 - Bakelite Bezel

Sale price$0.00

Straight Facts

Let’s rewind the clock to the 1950s. Pan American World Airways, is in talks with Boeing to launch the worlds first passenger jetliner, massively shortening the time between American and European Nations. It does however, present an interesting dilemma. Pilots need to be able to tell time in two places at the same time with a very quick glance. Who does Juan Trippe turn to? Rolex. While worldtimers and GMTs were not a new invention - the way Rolex chose to answer it was incredibly novel AND simple. The addition of a ‘slow’ 24 hour hand that made one revolution per day and a simple change of the bezel to a military 24 hour time would allow the wearer to quickly read time in two places at once. Points awarded here for mechanical simplicity, and execution. The bezel would be in two different colors to represent AM/PM times, and those colors would be the PanAm colors of Red & Blue (naturally). While the watch was developed rather quickly and the first generation 6542 released in the mid 50s, the Boeing Jetliner (the 707) took a little longer to develop. That being said, when PanAm flew the 707 on its maiden flight from New York’s Idlewild Airport (not yet JFK!) to Paris (with onboard catered food from Maxim’s of Paris!) it was the Rolex GMT-Master on the flight crews wrist.

…and that was this watch!

The present watch is that very first generation of GMT-Master, known as the ‘6542’. While the 6542 GMT was a great watch, it was not without its flaws. For high visibility, the bezels of the 6542 were impregnated with radium so that you could see the watch at night. A genius idea - but as they aged, many cracked and chipped and either got replaced by aluminum inserts or just had the inserts never replaced. We are pleased to say that this watch did not meet that fate! Presented is an entirely period correct 6542 GMT-Master with its original Bakelite bezel in-tact and a truly stunning dial. The case benefits from a recent restoration and likely presents as-new, and it comes complete with a period correct ‘Big-Logo’ Stretch Oyster Rivet. This is a true collectors piece and a real rarity. Catch it before it flys away!

*Some marks or spots on the dial are reflections or dust on the crystal and are due to high intensity strobe lighting used while photographing. They are not actually on the watch or visible in natural lighting.

Stainless Steel 1959 Automatic Sport

"As collectors themselves, Oliver and Clarke are on a mission to make buying vintage watches as painless as possible."

"The company focuses on good prices for its pieces, elite customer service and full transparency."

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From Rolex & Patek Philippe, to Cartier & Audemars Piguet. As collectors first, we love the small details that separate the Submariner from Daytona and Calatrava from Royal Oak. This is why you'll find our curated assortment spans decades of generations of models and brands. We believe that watches don't just tell time, they tell history - and life is too short to wear a boring watch.

Oliver & Clarke