Radium Bakelite 6542 GMT-Master
There seems to have been a confluence of GMTs around these parts lately. I think my mind is subconsciously craving that which it cannot have: travel. Although I’ve been hot for Greenwich lately, I don’t think any GMT I’ve posted recently rivals this. The thing is, I strive to feature a diverse range of watches here. But sometimes I just can’t say no. When @kingflum reached out to me on instagram and alerted me to the sale of this 6542, I was immediately smitten. There are watches, there are beautiful watches, and then there are icons. Perhaps none moreso than the 6542.
As I outlined recently, the 1960s and outset of the jet age spawned a new problem. Time-zone tracking. Pilot’s standardization to a constant reference Greenwich mean time solved that issue. Rolex adapted their travel companion to include a running hour hand with a secondary timezone. The watch was an iteration on the 3346 and later turnograph movement. The result was a tool that became inseparably associated with new wealth and the burgeoning jet set. The 6542 was intended for pilots, but largely adopted by late 60s and early 70s playboys. Omega tried to compete but their efforts have been largely forgotten outside of watch collectors. Rolex’s simple solution has stood the test of time.
Perhaps even more impressively, the GMT-Master hasn’t wavered from its throne for even a day in its 66 year reign. The watch is a relentless icon. I don’t know of single model more recognizable to non-watch people, with the possible exception of the submariner, and even then I’m not sure about that.
This example is a lovely one. The dial is an original radium and gilt plotted masterpiece. Its bakelite bezel is matched and also a radium job. Unlike tritium, early radium applications don’t really lose their glow. A bonus shot is attached at the end next to a glowmaster, the modern Ming, for reference. Seriously impressive glow. They also have other . . .interesting properties. Like this. Nonetheless, one thing these radium applications are not lacking is beauty. The plots are thick and whole. But that’s the least of the charms with this classic. The case is strong, lightly marked, possibly unpolished. The Bakelite bezel is possibly the most impressive component, lightly marked only and entirely un-degraded. Often, these are chipped, flaked, corroded, or otherwise abused. Not so here. Lastly the handset and dial which are both perfect and correct for the reference. I don’t know what else to say. These are getting rarer by the day to find. This example comes by way of Paul Blandford, @f1ptb on instagram. It is on offer at 75K GBP. While that might seem steep if you’ve been out of the market for awhile, I assure you it isn’t. Please consider that most pieces you’ll browse under the 6542 reference are not bakelite models. Those that are almost entirely POA. While not identical, consider a few recent 6542 sales here, here, and here. You may come to see as I do, there’s a decent value on offer here.
Find this Bakelite 6542 here from @f1ptb instagram (DM) on offer for 75K GBP.