Last week we talked about going whole hog customizing Rolex watches – severely modifying the case for a totally different look. This week let’s take a look at a much more common – and easier – way to get a custom look for your watch, swapping the dial. It turns out, aftermarket dials for Rolex watches are nearly ubiquitous, especially for the Day-Date and Datejust.
A quick Google search turns up numerous suppliers, and there are a ton on eBay too. Some suppliers will sell you the dial and leave it to you to install it (we don’t recommend that unless you’re a veteran shade tree watch mechanic and have nerves of steel/ ice water running in your veins). Others will install your dial for you, provided you send your watch to them (yeah, you might want to thoroughly check them out first, lest you get back a Frankenwatch which only resembles the one you sent them). Best to take your watch to your favorite local watchmaker. They’ll do the swap and you’ll have piece of mind.
So what kinds of dials are we talking about? Probably the most common custom dials are the diamond dials – dials with diamonds set at the hour points (nothing at 12 o’clock though – gotta leave room for the Crown logo). A nice take on these dials is to have baguettes (long, rectangular stones) at six and nine. An even nicer touch is having tapered baguettes. It’s the details, right? And closely akin to the diamond dials are gemstone dials – dials with one of the Big Three gemstones (Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald) at the hour points.
Or you may find dials with these stones set at six and nine, and diamonds filling in the rest. You can also find stone dials – where the dials themselves are made of semiprecious stones. Meteorite (technically metal, not stone), is cool if you like a dial that’s as unique as your fingerprint. And there are dials out there made of mother of pearl, lapis lazuli, onyx, malachite, tiger eye, wood burl, even very soft stones like opal. There was a beautiful opal dialed Day-Date in the recent Phillips auction, Glamorous Day-Date on May 9 (spendy lot, that one. It went for CHF81,250 – about $88,000) - as seen in the image below:
So whether you’re a diamond or colored stone guy, really dig the stone dials for your personal statement, even if you’re looking to do a totally custom refinish, you can customize your Rollie just like the kids in American Graffiti did with their Chevys.