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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1956
    Reference No: 6542; inside caseback stamped 6542 and IV.56
    Movement No: N694374
    Case No: 212’496
    Model Name: GMT-Master
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1030, 25 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel riveted Rolex Oyster bracelet, endlinks stamped 65, max length 210mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp, stamped 3.56
    Dimensions: 38mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and clasp signed.
    Accessories: Accompanied by the personal effects of D.L. Pratt, including: Explorer’s club card, Royal Engineers Old Comrades’ Association card, personal diary from 1974, two portable telescopes and a mechanical counter.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present GMT-Master reference 6542 is remarkable not only for its provenance, but for what it has endured. No doubt many GMT-Masters have explored all corners of the globe, but few are likely to have travelled quite as far as this one. Fresh-to-the-market, this reference 6542 was previously owned by David L. Pratt, an engineer for the Trans-Antarctic Expedition, which lasted from 1955 to 1958. He arrived in Antarctica on January 12th, 1957 as part of the main party, to prepare for the summer’s expedition to reach the South Pole by land. It was noted to be quite cold, the lowest temperature that year being -57.3 Celsius (-71.14 degrees Fahrenheit). It was the first vehicle journey ever to traverse across the continent, from the Weddell Sea to the Ross Sea, totaling 99 days. As the expedition’s transport & engineering officer, Pratt’s task was to choose, maintain, and track the progress of the vehicles they were to use during the over-land route. So appreciated for his critical role ensuring the success of the expedition, a mountain in the Shackleton Range was named for him: Pratt’s Peak.

    Dr. David Pratt CBE, was not only a member of this highly successful and historic expedition, he was also a World War II veteran, posted to the 26th Assault Squadron, Royal Engineers and one of the first men ashore on D-Day, landing at Juno Beach on June 6th, 1944. He was an avid pilot, noted to have continued flying into his eighties, and actually met his wife while she was working in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition office.

    Watches with such superb and rich history are exceptionally rare, and when they are offered publicly, they uncover a wonderful glimpse into humanity’s historic accomplishments. Engraved, “D.L. Pratt Transatlantic 1956-58”, the present lot is accompanied by a wealth of personal effects, including Dr. Pratt’s Explorer’s club card, Royal Engineers Old Comrades’ Association card, his personal diary from 1974, two portable telescopes and a mechanical counter. Furthermore, the watch is preserved in incredible, all original condition considering its history, the dial having tropicalized ever so subtly to a deep mahogany color. The original Bakelite bezel has taken on beautiful shades of light blue and red, and the case remains strong, with its original factory bevels and contours still present. With one of the most fascinating histories of any ref. 6542 to appear on the market in recent memory, it’s a trophy watch for the connoisseur.

  • 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 stamped 6542 and IV.56
An historically important, rare, and fine stainless steel dual time wristwatch with Bakelite bezel and bracelet, formerly owned by D.L. Pratt, an engineer on the Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1956-1958

Circa 1956
38mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and clasp signed.

Estimate
$60,000 - 120,000 
CHF54,100-108,000
€50,600-101,000
HK$465,000-930,000

Sold for $107,100

Contact Specialist

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

Racing Pulse

New York Auction 12 December 2020