PAN AM & 1675

It was 1954 ..To prevent him from boarding his Boeing jets, pilots and flight crews, suffering from jet-lag, Pan-Am requests a model from Rolex that simultaneously indicates the local time of arrival and that of the place of departure. Thus was born the first GMT reference 6542. The development team was led by Captain Fred Libby of Pan Am and Renè P. Jeanneret, the head of public relations at Rolex. The GMT name was registered on April 21, 1955, the movement was based on the 1030 of the Turnograph, which, with the addition of the fourth red hand, indicated the 24 hours. The two-color bezel graduated with 24 hours, turning, was positioned in correspondence with the second time zone to be read.


The first advertisement of the GMT 6542
The first advertisement of the GMT 6542

This first "GMT" movement was first named 1036, then 1065 and 1066, and production started in 1956.

Legend has it that there are around 100 one-of-a-kind pieces with a white dial, defined by some as GMT "albino".

It is said that the head of Pan Am, Juan Trippe, one day saw on the wrist of an executive one of the GMTs intended exclusively for crew members, requisitioned it and ordered that all the executives who had stolen the GMTs to that day returned them to their legitimate recipients.

At that point the Pan Am executive class felt at fault, so Trippe ordered the 100 pieces with the white dial from Rolex. It is believed that these were the last 6542 produced.


One of the 100 very rare specimens of 6542 "Albino"

Another important detail that collectors love about this model is the bakelite bezel, the very first examples were equipped with this particular bezel, but it turned out to be very fragile and easy to break, as well as having another huge problem, the numbers were made with a special radioactive mixture of military derivation that made them glow in the dark, TRITIUM.

Tritium was obtained as a by-product of nuclear weapons production. After some time it began to be suspected that some ferrules were also contaminated with strontium-90 far more dangerous than tritium. Rolex issued circulars requesting GMT owners to return them for inspection. Meanwhile the bakelite ferrules were replaced by stamped metal ferrules. Not infrequently the GMTs under review returned with a shiny new metal bezel to replace the offending Bakelite bezel. The initial production of bakelite ferrules therefore lasted about a year, after which they were replaced by metal ones. The new ferrules remained in production for about 18 months, after which they were again replaced by plastic ones, this time Geyger counter-proof, for the last production period of the reference 6542.

 Go and discover the new graphics dedicated to this reference ...! BAKELITE