The original first-generation dials (Type 1) are characterized by the typical “pie-pan” dial design which was common for most other Day-Date dials of this period. The minute track slopes down like an upside-down ‘pie-pan’. The glossy look of the Type 1 (and also the Type 2 dials) is further enhanced by the Plexiglas “Cy-clope 136” crystal that Rolex fitted at the time.
Following the Type 1 dials of early 1970s (please take note that there is an overlapping period of all the dials and no clear cut off point) one can find the Type 2 dial, which doesn’t have the “pie-pan” design but is still marked T Swiss T. On these watches you’ll find different text colors (not only black lettering as seen on the Type 1 dial). They used gold lettering for yellow gold models and silver text for white metal watches.
The Type 3 dial marked “T Swiss Made T” with a flat dial design one can find predominantly in the single quick set Ref. 180xx of the later 1970s and early 1980.
The “final” evolution Type 4 dial was manufactured until the end of the 1980s and featured a Roman Nu-meral outer ring. Interestingly we can find several watches with Stella dials until the late 1990s. Most are fitted in platinum Day-Dates. Whether these last dials were left over spare dials owned by certain dealers or a late series by Rolex, remains unclear.
The quality fake Sky-Dweller is, relatively speaking, a youngster in Rolex’s collections. While many of the company’s staple models have been around, in one form or another, since the 1950s and 1960s, the Sky-Dweller only debuted in 2012, and it was at the time, I think, a bit of a puzzler – a highly technical piece but also very showy; as if a gold Day-Date had decided it wanted a career in aviation. It was and is a quite complex watch, with an annual calendar, GMT function, and a rotating bezel – the Ring Command bezel – which is used to select the setting function for the crown.
The idea is to make setting and using the watch as simple as possible for the owner, but to do so requires a lot of extra work where it’s not visible to the wearer – the bezel control ring alone adds about sixty additional components. The presentation of information on the dial is ingenious – the month of the year is indicated in a very economical fashion, via a switching colored disk that appears in a small window, adjacent to the dial hour marker corresponding to the month (the 12:00 marker, for instance, corresponds to December). Home time is shown on a rotating 24-hour ring, and the hour hand can be independently set, in one-hour increments, forwards or backwards.
The GMT-Master II has a long history of use as a practical traveling aid, and it’s also done time on innumerable pilots’ wrists and astronauts’ wrists. The Sky-Dweller, on the other hand, is unabashedly a luxury watch – 42mm in diameter, exceedingly extroverted in design. It’s a watch that makes no bones about announcing itself, especially in gold. There is a steel version, with a white-gold bezel, with which I spent A Week On The Wrist back in 2018, but that’s about as proletariat as the Sky-Dweller gets (it is currently listed at $14,800, which seems surprisingly affordable for a Sky-Dweller, relatively speaking). I actually had an opportunity to travel with the watch (on a quick trip to London and back) and found it, despite its complexity and the somewhat unintuitive-at-first nature of the Ring Command bezel, very easy to use and fun as hell to wear, to boot. As a working travel watch, though, I thought I’d still probably just rather use a GMT-Master II, which even on a bracelet, flies a little more under the radar.
Now, I don’t think a Sky-Dweller is ever going to compete head-to-head with a GMT-Master II as a pure tool watch – it’s too complex mechanically and too busy visually – but with the Oysterflex bracelet, which is what’s new this year for the watch, I think it becomes much more versatile, at least in terms of long-term wear comfort. At 42mm, the Sky-Dweller is 2mm larger in diameter than the GMT-Master II, and it looks and feels it, especially in yellow gold. That fluted bezel, with its diamond-sharp edges, catches the light like a cut-gem too. However, on an Oysterflex bracelet, it almost feels a different watch.
The Oysterflex bracelet is one of the most carefully thought out and elaborately constructed bracelets I’ve ever seen – I honestly don’t know that any other company than Rolex would ever go to the trouble of coming up with such a thing. Perfect replica Rolex calls it a bracelet (and I bet they want you to do so too), but it feels more of a hybrid to me – a combination of the structural advantages of a bracelet with the comfort of a strap. (Of course, comfort is a relative thing; I’ve worn metal bracelet watches that were terrifically comfortable and watches on straps that may as well have been metal, for all they showed any inclination to make the slightest effort to make themselves conform to my wrist, instead of the other way around.)
The Oysterflex bracelet basically consists of a thin, flexible metal blade inside a molded elastomer outer coating, but it has another interesting feature as well, which is the so-called “comfort pad” molded into the underside. Now, read about Rolex for long enough, and you can read enough hearsay and speculation in a month to last you a lifetime. One story I’ve heard, which may be apocryphal but which says something about the company nonetheless, was that they had six researchers with Ph.Ds in materials science working on their bracelets. (The story went on to say that after six years of working on just the bracelet links, one of them – a real go-getter, apparently – went to his boss and asked if he could work on clasps as well; the boss patted him anxiously on the shoulder and said, in shocked tones, “No, no … you’re a bracelet guy.”)
The grant in the U.S. is from 2015, and if you understandably find it hard to believe that guys with Ph.Ds do the bracelet designs at Rolex, looking over the patent might help persuade you. It begins by noting with commendably deadpan seriousness that “some prefer a loose fit, while others prefer a tighter fit,” and goes on to identify a number of circumstances which may contribute to a sensation of discomfort while wearing a watch – and then modestly proposing, “In order to respond to these constraints, document JP2002262910 proposes to produce a transverse opening in the thickness of the bracelet strand around the zone where the bracelet strand is fastened to the watchcase, to result in a damping of the stresses exerted by the bracelet on the wearer’s arm.” The patent actually goes so far as to include a stress-strain diagram.
One of the advantages to being Rolex is that you can really take your time over these things – I’ve found a Rolex patent for a metal bracelet with plastic molded over it from the 1960s, but of course, taking your time also means being able to get it right. On the Oysterflex bracelet, what was an undeniably well-engineered, very well-built watch, but which felt a little hefty and complex for the rigors of travel, suddenly seems ready to go anywhere and be worn for any length of time – even for the rigors of a long-haul flight. There are always some arguments about whether or not the Oysterflex bracelet is “really” a bracelet, and whether or not Rolex is engaging in some sort of shenanigans by calling it a bracelet when (to be fair) it looks a hell of a lot like a strap, but I’m inclined to give them this one – the over-molding is what you see and feel, but the actual physical attachment of the watch head to the bracelet to the clasp is metal-to-metal all the way around. An Oysterflex bracelet seems likely to considerably outlast any single-material strap out there, certainly.
In a world where we change straps on watches with considerable frequency, if not downright promiscuity, it is nice to see this much effort being made to make the wrist a better place. Okay, this is a forty-thousand dollar watch, but at least you don’t get the feeling Rolex cut corners on the bracelet. This is only the second time I’ve worn a watch on an Oysterflex bracelet, and they really are just deliciously comfortable. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they make a solid-gold Sky-Dweller into a discreet daily-wearer, but they certainly make it a watch more likely to be your go-to for travel – albeit, if you have this guy, you’re definitely traveling up front.
The 1:1 Swiss made fake Rolex Sky-Dweller Ref. 326238: case, 18k yellow gold, 42mm x 14.01mm, water resistant to 100 meters. Sapphire crystal with date cyclops. Movement, Rolex in-house caliber 9001 with center seconds, minutes, and hours; independently settable hour hand and home time indication by 24-hour ring; annual calendar. Setting via the crown, controlled by Ring Command bezel, with 72-hour power reserve. Bracelet, Rolex Oysterflex with Oysterlock clasp.
An original-owner Swiss made replica Rolex Submariner ref.5512, Explorer Dial, coming up for auction is not a regular occurrence, so when one does appear in the wild, it is most certainly newsworthy. One such watch, bought by a coal miner from Nottinghamshire England 56 years ago for a mere £70, came up at auction at Gardiner Houlgate out of the U.K., and just sold for £217,000 (well over $250,000). The estimates for the sale ranged from £150,000 – £250,000, so it fell at the higher end. The hammer price was £175,000, with the larger amount reflecting buyer’s premium and other associated fees.
According to the auction listing, the owner of the Rolex fake watch with black dial was born and raised in London. During World War II, he was conscripted as one of the so-called Bevin Boys, who were young men chosen by lottery to work in the coal mines in the North of England as part of the war effort (The name is taken from that of Ernest Bevin, who was Minister For Labour And National Service). The listing further indicates that he purchased the watch from Watches of Switzerland in London on December 22, 1964, as a 40th birthday present to himself. When he passed in 1995, he left the watch to his daughter and son-in-law, where it stayed in the family until this sale. Included in the auction catalog for this watch was an assortment of photos of the original owner and his Explorer Dial Sub. This is one of those kinds of stories you hardly ever hear anymore. The origins of the Explorer Dial copy Rolex Submariner with steel bracelet date back to the mid-1950s with the reference 6200, known for its big crown and no crown guards (for a deep dive into all things Submariner, including Explorer dials, Stephen’s Reference Points is a must-read and a must-watch). We have seen a few examples of Explorer Dial 6200s in episodes of Talking Watches with both Mark Haddawy and John Mayer. You may also recall a certain seven-figure sale of a reference 6538 Explorer Dial Submariner back in 2018. Explorer Dial Subs were also produced in both the reference 5513 and 5512. Interestingly enough, most of the 5512 crop of Explorer Dials were made for the U.K. market, which certainly explains the watch that just sold here. All of this is to say that Explorer Dial Subs in any reference – but especially the 5512 – are exceedingly rare. Speaking of which, I think the nature of this sale (in terms of provenance and rarity) puts it squarely in the category of some of the more crazy finds we have covered. I am thinking about the LeCoultre Deep Sea Alarm found in a bin at Goodwill for $5.99, or the more recent Antiques Roadshow episode with the unworn Paul Newman 6263 Daytona. Just when we think we have seen it all, something else comes along. If nothing else, this is a great story about a well-loved watch.
For more about this Rolex replica watch, and the entire auction, you can head over to Gardiner Houlgate’s website for the full catalog.
Rolex replica would normally unveil its novelties for the year at Baselworld in March and have them on sale several months later in the summer or fall. But this year, most of the new watches hit authorized dealers in the same month.
Dealers are delighted by the timing of this year’s launches, the speed at which the new watches will hit stores and the highly commercial focus on entry level priced models including the steel case fake Rolex Submariner and steel Rolex Oyster Perpetual in 36mm and 41mm sizes. “I think the strategy is sound,” suggests Mr Betteridge.
“Their simplest movements with nothing but cool and shockingly new fashion colours should appeal to a new client, be easier to supply and will get those new folks into a watch that is engineered to a standard that is exceptional and will be new to them. I’ve always sold the Explorer 1 as the Timex without the stigma of low cost, but honestly it’s the most durable and accurate timepiece a rough character can buy; and then you make a buck selling it beat up,” he adds.
Damon Gross, chief executive of Hyde Park Jewelers, a Rolex AD with three stores in Denver, Colorado, is also a fan of the Oyster Perpetuals, particularly the 36mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual fake watches with vivid coloured dials. “I think the “Stella” dials are the real sleeper,” he predicts. “If the Stella dials of the 50s and 70s are any indication, these should be a big winner for those who are paying attention.”
Rolex made DayDates with brightly colored enamel Stella dials in the 1970s, initially for the Middle Eastern market before they became more widely popular and collectible.
Commercially, it is the Submariners that have Hyde Park customers excited. “Cermit — my term for it — and the non-date Subs seems to be the big winners,” says Mr Gross.
For Roberto Chiapelloni, CEO of Manfredi Jewelers, which has a Rolex account in New Canaan, CT, the Submariner upgrade to a new movement and slightly larger 41mm case will do nothing to dent demand, but he is personally more excited about the Oyster Perpetuals and Swiss automatic movement Rolex Sky Dweller fake watch on an Oysterflex strap.
“It is quite easy to love the new copy Rolex Submariner, but I’m really happy with the Sky Dweller on the Oysterflex bracelet. It will appeal to a much larger audience, especially men who think a gold bracelet on a larger watch is a bit more then they want. The absolute winner from my clients, and myself, are the Oyster Perpetuals. The colors are a really welcome addition, and I can’t wait to see them in my store,” he tells us.
Hamilton a venerable American jeweller with three luxury boutiques in Princeton, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach, Florida, is being hit by a wave of demand from its affluent and expert customers. “We have received hundreds of email and phone inquiries from our known clients and collectors, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” the company’s CEO Hank Siegel says. “The subtle but significant changes to the Submariner and Submariner Date are terrific and will serve to enhance the desirability of that model range. We are very happy that the precious metal options in 18ct yellow gold and 18ct white gold were retained, as both are very good sellers for us. The entire range is a winner and will do well,” he predicts.
Mr Siegel was the only retailer responding to who mentioned the significant additions to Rolex’s ladies’ DateJust range. “The Datejust 31 upgrades and dial choices are terrific. As an example, the Oyster Steel with white gold and diamonds has many beautiful dial choices and provides a wonderful choice for a woman’s watch with a large number of variations in bracelet, dial, and bezel combinations to satisfy most every taste. We think that the sales of this style will continue to grow nicely,” he believes.
However, like many other Rolex partners, it is the Oyster Perpetuals that left the greatest impression. “We LOVE (Mr Seigel’s capital letters) the Oyster Perpetual introductions. Everything is right about them – the price range, the dial colors and the case size ranges. In particular the silver dial with the gold hands and chapter dots brings back a look that was made by Rolex years ago, and is beautifully updated. We think it is an instant classic. The fun other colors in tropical tones as well as the classic black and blue will appeal to an audience that previously may have passed over this reference, at an accessible price. We have had many , many calls and inquiries and are excited to be able to display these in our locations soon,” he concludes.