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The Pan American World Airways, "PAN AM", one of the largest airlines founded in 1926, might have been one of Rolex's first major clients. Therefore, in 1954, probably at the request of the "PAN AM", Rolex designed a new pilot's wristwatch, the GMT. An additional hand and a blue and red, so-called "Pepsi", 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 travelers.
The ref. 6542 is the first reference produced and is based on a Turn-O-Graph Ref. 6202. The very first examples, like the model we are presenting, are immediately recognizable by the absence of a guards around the crown, the dial signed "Swiss" at 6 o'clock and the bezel in bakelite.
Alongside the standard “Pepsi” version in stainless steel, with only 6 years of production, a very small number of 6542 were made in 18k yellow gold with matching brown dial and bezel combination. Here this is a "nipple dial" style, with the domed gold hour markers filled with the luminous material, bars at 6 and 9, and the triangle marker at 12.