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It's All About The Dials

While each component of the Rolex timepiece is impressive in its own right, nothing really comes close to the magnificent watch dial. A watch dial is one of the most important and aesthetically significant components of a timepiece. Not surprisingly, Rolex makes all its dials in-house in Switzerland, which uses a combination of modern machinery and old-school techniques employed by hand to perfect the end piece and ensure consistency and quality. Over the years, Rolex has stayed inventive by developing different dials and experimenting with one-of-a-kind materials to keep the brand exclusive and the designs impressive.


Everyone has their own preference for certain types of dials, whether it be the classic Meteorite dial, the contemporary Matte dial or even the iconic but pervasive Gilt dial. In this vein, we have come up with a list of some of our classic favourites - with more elusive dial types if you stay tuned to the end:


Gilt dial




This is the most pervasive dial, even across other luxury watch brands - but even ‘simpler’ dials warrant our appreciation. After all, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. The literal meaning of gilt is to cover something with gold, which is exactly what a gilt dial encompasses where various components of a watch dial are printed by gold paint through a time-intensive process.


Champagne dial



Rolex Daydate 118348


More commonly found on dress watches for a sophisticated and elegant look, the champagne dial refers to a dial that is gold and has a sunburst texture. A Rolex mainstay, the champagne dial is widely implemented on the Day-Date and Datejust models, where the grains emanate outwards from the center of the dial. The champagne dial is famous for being used on Rolex watches, most specifically the Day-Date, though it is widely used on the Datejust as well.


Nipple dial




The Nipple Dial is a very popular dial design, and one which was produced exclusively by Rolex. They are typically found on Rolex GMT-Master and Submariner watches with slightly pronounced hour markers made of precious gold and luminous material is only applied to the tip of the markers which allows for good visibility even in low light conditions.


Meteorite dial




As the name suggests, a meteorite dial includes slices of actual meteorite rock, creating not only a distinctive look but also makes for an interesting story for the wearer. Watchmakers use various meteorites around the world, individually cutting and polishing each piece. Since the textures are organic, depending on how the meteorite is cut, the resulting dials are truly one-of-a-kind. As such, patterns from the same meteorite can garner watches of completely different looks.


Stone dial


16019 Rare Lapis Lazuli Dial On A White Gold Jubilee Bracelet



16018 Malachite Stone Dial



18038 Obsidian Dial



Turquoise Stone Dial


As you can tell by now, Rolex likes to be experimental in the type of dials that they put out - and one of the standout dials would have to be stone. Rolex has dabbled in a large variety of precious and semi-precious stone types back in the day, and while some remain in production, others have been discontinued, making them rare and highly sought after. Apart from the truly magnificent quality of stone ranging from mother-of-pearl and lapis lazuli to onyx and ammonite, each dial is even more outstanding when you remember that the dial is meticulously cut from hard stone to fit perfectly and beautifully on your wrist.


Wood dial


19019 Wood Dial



18039 White Gold with Wood Dial


One of our favourite dial types - the rustic wood dials have a very interesting history with Rolex. In the early 1970s, Rolex first started experimenting with wood in their Datejust and Day-Date models and it was a piece radiating luxury and exoticism. Every dial is lovingly handcrafted, which means that not one has the same texture as the other - it surely makes for a quintessential timepiece. Similar to the making of the stone dials, no two wood dials can be identical - as thin slivers of wood taken from birch, mahogany, and walnut trees would be attached to the brass plate, resulting in a completely new look.



Stella dial


Turquoise Stella Dial



Stella Oxblood Dial



Rolex 17000 Ultra Rare Yellow Stella Dial


Leaving the (unconventionally) best for last - the colourful lacquer or 'Stella' dial is akin to the ugly duckling story coming to life. In the late 1970s, Rolex made some watches with lacquer dials by painting multiple layers of lacquer onto a dial to produce these vibrant colours and shiny surfaces. Ranging from muted turquoise to bright yellow, the watch dial was quite a statement but due to the less than complementary pairing of the coloured lacquer with the prestige of Rolex, the sales of lacquer dial watches were incomparable to the classic dials, which resulted in Rolex destroying the excess pieces. Fast forward to present day, these lacquer dials are back in popular demand - partly due to the limited pieces available, but also because the daring colours can now be appreciated in its fullest form.





There is, by no means, a perfect or ‘must-have’ dial - each dial represents a variety of styles, moods or personas befitting of different situations. Watch collecting is all about taking the time to understand and appreciate the minute details, so be sure to take a breath, enjoy the process and continue to fall in love while curating your collection of dials.


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