Fasten your seatbelts for the story of the Rolex GMT-Master. Aviation company Pan-Am requested Rolex to create a wristwatch that would display multiple time-zones simultaneously, as their flights got longer; crossing multiple time-zones. Rolex came up with the GMT-Master (‘GMT’ stands for ‘Greenwich Mean Time’) in 1954. The watch features a date-function and an extra hour hand (with triangle) that points out the second time zone on the bi-directional turning, 24hour bezel.
Still linked to aviation and although meant for professional use, it enjoys a much wider fan base ever since it first saw light. Over the years it underwent some changes and there are so many wonderful variations of this all-time Rolex classic. Some GMT’s are great as a single purchase, others are a wonderful addition to any collection and some of them can be considered as the crowning glory.
The very first GMT ref. is the 6542, available in either steel or 18k yellow gold and has no crown guards. Because it would reflect less (to avoid pilots being blinded) Rolex chose to use Bakelite as the material for their bezel inlays. Unfortunately the numbers tend to flake of in warmer environments and the bezel cracks easily, making it very rare to still have the original bezel. Nicknamed the ‘Pussy Galore’ as she wore it in James Bond Goldfinger. It was only produced for five years and replaced by the 1675 in 1959.