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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.

A Brief History of A Brief History of the Rolex Air-King

Why the Rolex Air-King does not receive more attention is a bit of a mystery. The brand’s various sports watches continue to garner the majority of the public’s attention, and even many of the previously-ignored models have started to catch on with certain pockets of the collecting world in recent years. And yet, the Rolex Air-King continues to fly under the radar. However, the Air-King name is one of the oldest in Rolex’s catalog, pre-dating all of the brand’s legendary sports models and first making an appearance way back in the 1940s. Strangely, Rolex doesn’t consider this to be the official start of the Air-King collection, and despite having one of the longest and most unusual histories of any Rolex model, the Air-King remains largely overlooked and often even ignored.

Ripley Sellers
What Is On My Wrist Vintage IWC Mark 11 (Ref. 6B/346) “RAF Issued”

In this episode of "What Is On My Wrist" Cam talks about a fan favorite. The IWC Mark 11 (Ref. 6B/346). Mk. XI was a watch born out of rigorous specifications and necessity. As the British Ministry of defense came to realize after the issuance of the famed “Dirty Dozen” timepieces, they came to the conclusion that these watches just weren’t accurate or durable enough for their pilots. So in 1947, the British Ministry of Defense created the 6B/346 navigation watch standard which became known as Mk. XI. Both IWC and JLC produced watches under the 6B/346 specification. The JLC Mk. XI was discontinued in 1953 and IWC then become the sole supplier, outfitting RAF Pilot’s until the watches were decommissioned in 1981.

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