A tool watch for the commercial skies – Rolex introduced the first GMT-Master, the ref. 6542, in 1955 under a partnership with Pan-Am Airlines to supply their pilots with a watch that could easily display two time-zones at once. The red and blue bezel would come to be nicknamed the “Pepsi” over the years by collectors but was designed to easily distinguish between day and night at a glance with vibrant colors that would stand out in a cockpit.
The example we have here today is circa 1965, and its distinguishing characteristics are the black glossy dial, shaped crown-guard case, and iconic “Pepsi” colored bezel. Rolex made the original ref. 6542s with glossy dials and continued with this until around 1966. At this point, Rolex transitioned into using matte dials with the GMT and other sport models too. There’s something special about a glossy dial that gives the watch a feel different than its matte dialed brethren. The specific glossy, or “gilt,” dial we have here is referred to as a Type C, non-chapter ring, “wide SWISS.” While a mouthful this is all extremely important in the glossy-dialed Rolex universe, particularly that last bit. Among Type C, non-chapter ring dials most are found with “SWISS – T < 25” spanning three minutes down below the six o’clock hour marker but our, as a “wide SWISS,” spans five hash marks – a small detail that makes this dial a touch more uncommon.
This watch has a serial number that corresponds to circa 1965 and is fitted to a slightly later but period correct ref. 7206 Oyster rivet bracelet with a date stamp of “2-68.” The inside caseback is stamped “IV.64,” matching the case serial number well. The original “Pepsi” bezel has aged quite gracefully over time. It shows an attractive fade to the blue portion, and the red has turned to an almost copper-red color that just sings in the sunlight. This watch is in overall beautiful and honest condition – perfect for someone who wants to dip their toes into the world of glossy-dialed sports Rolex.