Rolex GMT-Master 6542 'recall'

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The aviation industry used to be a lot more stylish, but also dangerous; not talking about the risks of crashing but the preferred pilots watch from the fifties is highly radioactive.

Therefore Rolex issued a recall, regarding the bezel specifically, demanded by the Atomic Energy Commission (due to the use of Strontium 90). As a result, most were substituted by an aluminium replacement; making the original Bakelite inserts very scarce. But there is one bezel iteration that is even more unusual to encounter. It is a non-radioactive alternative, yet made out of bakelite and with luminous numerals. The compound used in this service part is Tritium with Zinc Sulphide and still reacts under UV. The same material we can find in the hands and on the dial, which makes us believe all were installed at once. This was confirmed by the previous owner, who had them installed by Heetman Rotterdam; which was the first Rolex dealer in the Netherlands.

Whilst the bezel with luminescent numerals is a characteristic and cardinal feature of this first ever GMT reference, the dial is equally important. This early service specimen has the exact same graphics as the Radium dial and has undergone the beloved galvanic-printing production process, which results in this exquisitely glossy dial. The plots aged to an appealing cream colour, which in combination with the gilt text, provides an amazing contrast to the jet black background. The surface of the dial is immaculate and the hands are untarnished.

Over to some other details that are interesting to note. The metal bezel itself is a rare replacement execution that features notches. Furthermore, the roulette date-wheel is still installed and we have added an expandable riveted Oyster bracelet (ref. 6636 with 80 end-links) after we acquired it. As seen one of our wrist shots, it also comes on the USA bracelet it sported beforehand.

Without a shadow of a doubt this historically important tool watch is a significant find, moreover because of the interesting non-radioactive replacement aspect .6 And a half decades ago this watch was sold for 240 Dollar, todays equivalent would be 10x that amount, the current value -logically- is exponentially higher. But for a true connoisseur -that prefers to stay away from any health hazards- it is worth every penny.


Packages are generally dispatched within 2 days after receipt of payment and are shipped within the Netherlands by Registered Mail through the Dutch carrier PostNL and for other countries by Fedex. Consult us if you prefer another method of shipping. For most destinations tracking is available.