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Rolex's Fabric Inspired Dial Textures

If there’s one thing that makes collecting vintage Rolex exciting, it’s the extensive number of defining details that separate one example apart from the next. In addition to varying case materials, hand styles, and case shapes, dial aesthetics can arguably be described as the most prominent and plainly noticeable traits of the bunch.

Over the years, Rolex has experimented with new methods of dial finishing, resulting in the release of uniquely configured references that stand out from the pack. Rather curiously, some of the most sought after dials of this nature have been inspired by the textures of fabrics. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at these textured Rolex rarities.

Rolex DateJust Ref. 1601 Grey Linen Dial

The Linen Dial

Of all the textured Rolex dials, the most iconic is more than likely the “linen dial.” It’s defined by its scratchy looking, crosshatched surface, which as you’d guess is inspired by the appearance of woven linen fabrics. Given the affiliation which linen garments have with keeping cool under tropical conditions and Mediterranean island getaways, the linen dial affords an unmistakably cool quality to the otherwise unadorned appearance of the references it can be found on. The linen dials can be found in a couple of different color variants with silver and champagne models being the most commonly seen and the dark grey and blue dial variants being less common.

Rolex Day-Date Ref. 1803 Rare Silver Linen Dial

The linen dials can be found in 3 main references. The Rolex Datejust, President, and Oyster Perpetual and in all metals with the steel and two-tone examples being the most common in the Datejust reference range. Yellow gold predominantly in the Day-Date range with some examples appearing in yellow gold Datejust’s. Very few linen dials have ever been seen in white gold cases and have only been seen in the DayDate not the Datejust when in white gold.

Linen Vs. Standard Dial Rolex Ref 1601 Grey Dial Linen On Left Compared To Two Tone

The Mosaic Dial

Continuing the trend of fabric inspired Rolex dials is the mosaic dial, which is also known to many passionate collectors as the “Shantung” dial. This name also corresponds with a type of silk fabric which traces its origins back to the eastern Chinese province of Shandong, renowned worldwide for their role in the popularization and development of silk fabrics. Its staggered appearance also earns it the mosaic title, given its similarity to how mosaic tiles are stacked in many scenarios that differentiate this dial variant against the Linen dials.

The Shantung or Mosaic dial is perhaps slightly rarer than the linen dial, seeing as it’s only found on a handful of references within the Oyster Perpetual family, in addition to the Datejust. Because of this, such dials will often command a greater premium if preserved in a way that satisfies the scrupulous demands of seasoned collectors. This added degree of rarity also makes examples configured like such noteworthy investments, as Rolex won’t be making more any time soon. Like the linen dial, Rolex manufactured this dial variant in a number of different colors including blue, silver, and gold, along with a darker tone of grey. Many agree that the most desirable and visually appealing of the four are the blue and silver variants, as they display their intricate detailing more than the others. With two examples currently in stock, one mounted on a Jubilee bracelet and another on the iconic Oyster, there’s something for everyone. Sometimes it’s not the reference of watch that makes it special, sometimes it’s the small almost unnoticeable nuances within the texture of a dial that make them unique and worthy of collecting! Explore the full collection of watches at the C+T shop.

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