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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1958
    Reference No: 6542; inside caseback additionally stamped 6542 IV.1958
    Movement No: N866’310
    Case No: 426’965
    Model Name: GMT-Master
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1066, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster rivet bracelet, max length 212mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp, marked C&I and stamped 1-73
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and clasp signed.
    Literature: For another example of a reference 6542 with Bakelite bezel see 100 Superlative Rolex Watches by John Goldberger, p. 192.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The story of the Rolex GMT starts with an increase in the number of transatlantic fights enabled by the jet engine, and reaches its zenith thanks to a partnership with one of the most successful airline companies of the mid-twentieth century. During that time, the venerable Pan-American airlines was looking for an extremely reliable tool watch that would allow its pilots to keep track of two different time zones. Rolex created an ingenious execution, using the rotating Bakelite bezel that worked in conjunction with a fourth, 24-hour hand permitting the wearer to clearly keep track of two time zones.

    Instantly recognizable because of its colorful bezel, Rolex’s first GMT-Master was produced for only five short years before the brand realized the fragility of a Bakelite bezel. The next GMT-Master model, the reference 1675, would feature a resilient metallic insert, which also reduced the risk of accidental glare for the pilots. This novelty altered the watch’s core aesthetics, and many collectors would argue that later GMT models would not capture the essence and charm of the original model.

    The present reference 6542, manufactured in 1958,is a wonderful testament to this seminal GMT-Master model. The glossy black lacquer dial has developed a golden sheen over the years due to UV exposure which balances well with the well-preserved gilt minute track and gilt printing. The case retains crisp, architectural facets and lovely original dimensions. Over the years, the GMT-Master has remained a perennial favorite amongst enthusiasts and the general public alike due to its practical functionality as a simple-to-use travel watch. It is a model that has a casual fair, which is suitable in both formal and informal settings, and early examples like the present lot are wonderful watches that provide a window to the innovative history of the Rolex brand and this iconic model’s origins.

  • Artist Biography

    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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Ref. 6542; inside caseback additionally stamped 6542 IV.1958
A rare and well-preserved stainless steel dual time wristwatch with Bakelite bezel and bracelet

1958
39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and clasp signed.

Estimate
$60,000 - 120,000 
CHF59,800-120,000
€54,400-109,000
HK$470,000-940,000

Sold for $100,000

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas & International Strategy Advisor
Senior Vice President
+1 212 940 1293
[email protected]

Game Changers

New York Auction 10 December 2019