Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT Geneva Saturday, November 10, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1958
    Reference No: 6542
    Movement No: N'754'888
    Case No: 367'380
    Model Name: GMT-Master
    Material: 18K yellow gold
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1065, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: 18K yellow gold unsigned aftermarket in the style of an Oyster riveted bracelet stamped "76", max length 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Rolex deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Reference 6542 is possibly the first example of a Rolex model realized in conjunction with, and according to the specific requirements of, a privately held company. Its 24-hour revolving bezel and second hand allowed pilots of at-the-time revolutionary intercontinental flights to easily keep track of the local time zone. Furthermore, it appears Pan-Am believed that a timepiece displaying both the “local” and “home” time could mitigate the effect of rapid time zone changes (jet lag) on human health.

    At this point Rolex was approached, and in 1954 the GMT-Master was put into production. The very first examples of the model feature the highly collectible Bakelite bezel. Thanks to its glare-reducing capabilities, Bakelite was deemed ideal for a pilot’s timepiece but soon it was obvious it was too brittle and too fragile for a professional timepiece, and it was exchanged for a metallic insert. The great majority of the models with a Bakelite insert received metallic bezels during service, making the few remaining pieces with original bezels, such as the present one, extremely rare and collectible.

    As it was intended for professional use, the production of the GMT-Master was made mostly in stainless steel. A gold option was available but it was met with very limited commercial success. Exemplified by the present timepiece, the gold bakelite reference 6542 is today one of the most coveted vintage Rolex timepieces.

  • 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.

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Ref. 6542
A fine, very rare and highly attractive yellow gold automatic dual time wristwatch with center seconds, date, champagne dial, bakelite bezel and contemporary aftermarket unsigned bracelet

Circa 1958
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF100,000 - 200,000 

Sold for CHF137,500

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT

Geneva Auction 10-11 November 2018