A highly important, possibly unique and previously unknown yellow gold automatic left-handed dual-time wristwatch with center seconds and date

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1959
    Reference No: 6542
    Movement No: DN911350
    Case No: 486'401
    Model Name: GMT-Master "Left-Hander"
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1066, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Gold plated Rolex pin buckle
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and pin buckle signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    First released in 1954, the GMT-Master reference 6542 was designed for pilots to use in their line of work. With the rise of international travel in the 1950s, Rolex initially created the model for Pan Am airlines to track dual time zones. This ingenious design featured an immediately recognizable Bakelite bezel with the twenty-four hour radium numerals painted on the underside, made to glow in any weather condition. Bakelite was Rolex's material of choice, due to its low reflectivity and high readability. The additional luminous 24-hour tipped hand allowed the viewer to immediately track a second time zone. In 1959, Rolex introduced a metal bezel insert as it was more durable. Given that the GMT-Master was created for specific, work-related purposes, most examples were cased in stainless steel. These watches were worn in the most practical sense and made to withstand the elements. Yet, Rolex also manufactured a very limited number of watches cased in yellow gold.

    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 create a left-handed watch, Rolex vintage sports pieces all share one feature: the reference number is invariably, even in left-handed pieces, engraved between the lugs at 12 o’ clock, and the serial number at 6. If one were to rotate the case, the location of serial number and reference number would be inverted. The present piece correctly presents the numbers where one would expect them to be.

    In addition to the reference and case number being in the correct position, the inside caseback is even more compelling. Engraved with the serial number, it also displays Glasgow hallmarks for 1959, corresponding to the serial number of this watch. It is commonly accepted that such details are specifications of a special issued watch, which this timepiece most probably was. Furthermore, there are English hallmarks punched between the lugs. They are still crisp and legible, evidence that the numbers between the lugs have never been tampered with and were born this way.

    This timepiece is most notably fitted with metal bezel insert. Considering that it was produced the very year that reference 1675 was first launched, it is entirely possible that it left the factory in its current state. While Phillips has had the pleasure of selling a stainless steel left-handed reference 6542, this is the first time a gold example has ever appeared on the market. Its importance cannot be overstated.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    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.

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192

Rolex

Ref. 6542
A highly important, possibly unique and previously unknown yellow gold automatic left-handed dual-time wristwatch with center seconds and date

Circa 1959
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and pin buckle signed

Estimate
CHF120,000 - 240,000 
€106,000-211,000
$123,000-246,000

sold for CHF200,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+41 22 317 81 89
aghotbi@phillips.com

The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT

Geneva Auction 10-11 November 2018