Caseback 6542 / III.1958
One of Rolex's first major clients was undoubtedly Pan American World Airways, one of the largest airlines founded in 1926. It is in 1954, probably at the request of "PAN AM", that Rolex designed the GMT. It is a pilot's wristwatch which, thanks to an additional hand and a blue and red bi-directional bezel, allows an instant reading of a second time zone. A watchmaking complication essential to the advent of long-haul flights, and therefore an essential tool for travellers.
The first reference produced is the 6542 based on a Turn-O-Graph Ref. 6202. The very first examples, like the model we are presenting, are immediately recognisable by the absence of a guards around the crown, the dial signed "Swiss" at 6 o'clock and the bezel, called "Pepsi", in bakelite. The latter is in an exceptional state of preservation given the fragility of this material. The lacquered dial with railroad timer and radium hour-markers has aged magnificently, taking on a beautiful "tropical" colour.
An extremely rare feature here is the retailer's signature on the dial and caseback : a "Serpico y Laino" line above GMT at 6 o'clock and "S & L Acero" engraved on the caseback. It was undoubtedly one of the most famous Rolex retailers from its creation in 1925 until its closure in 1966. Located in Caracas, Venezuela, the boutique was founded by the Italian duo Leopoldo Serpico and Vincente Laino.
Not only is this timepiece a milestone in watchmaking history, but it is also a symbol of Venezuela's economic prosperity in the first half of the 20th century: an exceptional watch that all serious collectors are looking for.