Rolex - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX Hong Kong Monday, May 28, 2018 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1959
    Reference No: 6542
    Case No: 482'561, case back stamped "III 59" to the inside
    Model Name: GMT-Master "Pussy Galore"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1065, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster expandable bracelet stamped "58" to the endlinks, maximum lenght 190mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped "4 59"
    Dimensions: 38mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Launched in 1954, reference 6542 features two unmistakable and highly appreciated case design features never again used by Rolex on a GMT model. Most obviously, the case lacks crown protection. A trait typical of Rolex watches from the 1950s, the risk of inadvertently damaging the crown will prompt Rolex to soon add the protection. More subtly, the bezel is made of bakelite, a plastic material featuring low glare, which is why it was selected for a pilot’s timepiece. In addition, bakelite bezels feature an extremely appealing glossy/magnifying look never again replicated even in modern times. It was however soon discovered that bakelite is extremely fragile and prone to cracking, thus not only the bezel was changed to metal, but many, if not most, of the watches born with bakelite bezels were upgraded during service to a metal bezel.

    The GMT-Master has always occupied a special place is the hearts of Rolex collectors: the iconic and unmistakable red-and-blue bezel is now arguably the most recognized piece of watch design by both laymen and collectors alike, and the presence of the dual-time and date complications make it - even in today’s digital world - one of the most practically useful Rolex models produced.

    Finally, the history of its inception is quintessentially Rolex: a professional piece developed in collaboration with Pan-Am airlines to help pilots fight a condition unknown before the era of intercontinental jet flights: the infamous jet-lag. More than one parallelism can be seen with the development of COMEX Submariner/Sea-Dweller timepieces; ironically, while COMEX watches were developed to aid professionals working (up to) 2000ft underwater, the GMT was created to aid professionals working at 33000ft above sea level. Such an all-encompassing production is one of the traits that made Rolex the champion of professional timepieces it was throughout most of the past century, before fully evolving into a luxury brand.

    The present example of GMT is a so-far unique representative of the archetypal model of this hallowed line: reference 6542. A passing look will immediately convey the feeling that something is different, and a few more seconds will bring the beholder to realize the incredible truth: this is a left-handed version of the reference, which was previously unknown to have been made also in left-hand configuration. Rolex is known for having realized - in extremely rare occurrences - left-handed pieces. While it is easy to rotate the movement in order to fraudulently obtain a left-handed watch, Rolex vintage sport’s pieces all have one peculiarity: the reference number is invariably - even in left-handed pieces - between the lugs at 12 o’ clock, the serial number at 6. If one were to rotate the case, the location of serial number and reference number would be inverted. Instead, the present piece correctly presents the numbers where one would expect them to be.

    With the increased interest watch collecting is drawing to itself, discoveries having such a momentous impact on the history of a model are destined to become an ever more rare occurrence, as less and less paradigm-changing pieces are left to be discovered. Phillips is honored to have been selected to introduce to the world this historical timepiece which undoubtedly rewrites part of the scholarship about the GMT line of wristwatches.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

    View More Works


Ref. 6542
A fine, very important, possibly unique and previously unknown stainless steel dual time automatic left-handed wristwatch with center seconds, roulette date, bakelite bezel, gloss dial and bracelet

Circa 1959
38mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

HK$640,000 - 960,000 

Sold for HK$2,125,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2001

Ziyong Ho
+852 9386 2032

Jill Chen
+852 2318 2033

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: SIX

Hong Kong Auction 29 May 2018