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Rolex GMT-Master Ref. 6542


Pre-Owned Rolex 38mm GMT-Master, Black Dial, Jubilee Bracelet, Ref. 6542

The reference 6542 was the first of what became one of Rolex’s most popular and sought after models, the GMT Master. Produced between 1954 until about 1959, when it was replaced by the still highly collectible but less rare 1675, the reference 6542 GMT Master is simply one of rarest and most collectible of GMT Masters. Besides a short production run, the reference 6542 includes unique features, such as a smaller case diameter of 38mm with no crown guards, and gilt dials with radium luminescence. Most significantly, the first released watches had a bezel insert made of Bakelite, which included luminous, radium numerals. About midway through production, Rolex found that these Bakelite bezel inserts were prone to cracking, which led Rolex to change to aluminum inserts. Used for decades, aluminum proved more durable, but it lost the glowing numerals. Consequently, watches with original Bakelite bezels are incredibly rare due not only to their fragility and to their short production, but also because Rolex recalled watches that had been sold with Bakelite inserts so that they could be replaced with aluminum.

This circa 1957 GMT Master is likely one of the last that Rolex released with a Bakelite insert.  Not only does this watch include its Bakelite bezel insert but it also includes its original box with warranty.  As noted, Bakelite is a fragile material, and while intact, the insert on this watch has a crack near the 17 mark.  Attached to the watch is a Rolex USA Jubilee bracelet with a good deal of stretch, making it reasonable to believe that the bracelet is from the same era and likely original to the watch.  The serial number on the case has been partially re-etched, which was not unusual for the period.  The gilt dial and lume on this particular watch is in very good condition, making it an overall attractive watch, as well as highly sought after.

Only 1 left in stock

Categories: , , , SKU: 210000005364

Additional information

Band Material

Stainless Steel


Rotating, Bi-directional, Bakelite

Box and Papers

Box and Papers

Band Type

Jubilee Bracelet



Case Material

Stainless Steel

Case Size







Screw Down

Crystal Material


Dial Color





35mm – 39mm


1-Year Watchworks Guarantee

Item ID0005364
Model #6542
Model NameGMT-Master
Year Producedca. 1957
Serial Number26XXXX


Rolex is recognized throughout the world not only as a brand associated with luxury, but as a watch that is both luxurious and precise.  For Rolex, this hard-won and well-deserved recognition was never in doubt.  The founder, Hans Wilsdorf named the company Rolex to be pronounceable in any language, as he anticipated the acclaim his company would receive due to relentless pursuit of precision and accuracy in a wristwatch.  Soon after its founding, Rolex produced the first wristwatch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision, which was followed rapidly by receipt of a certificate of precision from the Kew Observatory in Great Britain.  From those roots Rolex built a legacy of innovation.  The Oyster watch was the first waterproof and dustproof wristwatch in 1926, followed by the first self-winding Perpetual rotor.  Building once again on innovation, the Datejust became the first self-winding wrist chronometer to include a date in a window on the dial.  Adventurous women and men who strive to make history have chosen Rolex for their expedition, which both perpetuates the brand’s claim to precision and dependability as well as attests to its veracity.  Hans Wilsdorf may have anticipated the acclaim Rolex would someday achieve, but even he might have been impressed with its success.