Rolex has a reputation for being ultra-conservative in its design choices - some may even accuse the company of being boring. True, the brand does like to stick to certain formulas and it focuses on incremental improvements rather than revolutionary changes. However, I think this is a pretty unfair blanket description given that the Swiss watchmaking giant does have a wild side when it decides to let its hair down. Don’t believe me? Here are some of the wildest Rolex dials in recent history, straight from the House that Hans built.
Datejust Palm Dials
Rolex sometimes uses the Datejust collection to showcase its more creative dial executions; take, for example, the Datejust 36 models released in 2021, furnished with palm motif dials. Available paired with steel, two-tone steel and yellow gold, and two-tone steel and Everose gold variations, the Rolex palm dials are rendered in olive green, gold, and silver. Green is my favorite since it lends a lush tropical vibe.
To create the green jungle effect, the palm fronds are etched on the brass dial base using femtosecond laser technology and then coated with a high-gloss green lacquer. As expected, this process is all done in-house at Rolex.
Daytona Eye of the Tiger
The Daytona ref. 116588TBR, better known as the “Eye of the Tiger” made its grand entrance in 2019. Sorry for the repetitiveness here – but the watch is wild. What we have here is an 18k yellow gold case, a bezel set with 36 trapeze-cut diamonds, and a black rubber Oysterflex bracelet.
However, the star of the show is the insane dial, which is home to a combination of black lacquer, diamond pavé (243 diamonds), champagne-colored subdials, and eight diamond hour markers. The result is a psychedelic pattern of black lacquer and diamond ripples that almost resemble the stripes of a tiger, hence the nickname.
Daytona Meteorite Dials
Not content with just using materials made on Earth, Rolex also fashions dials from space rocks that have fallen on our planet. Rolex’s meteorite dials (particularly when coupled with Daytona chronographs) are prized by collectors not only for their superb patterns but also because this is not a material that’s all that common in watchmaking yet.
The patterns that you see on Rolex Daytona Meteorite dials are unique to each watch since they were formed and organized inside an asteroid that slowly cooled through its millions of years-long journey through space. While Rolex no longer makes Daytona watches with meteorite dials (no doubt these will eventually come back), they are found on other current models such as the GMT-Master II and Day-Date 40.
Day-Date 36 with Jigsaw Puzzle Emoji Dials
Out of all the watches Rolex debuted at Watches and Wonders 2023, the craziest collection had to be the new Day-Date models with jigsaw puzzle emoji dials. Available in either yellow gold, white gold, or Everose Day-Date 36 models, these whimsical dials feature turquoise, red, fuchsia, orange, green, and yellow puzzle pieces, created using champlevé enameling.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. There are also 10 baguette-cut sapphires in six different shades to mark the hours, emojis in the “date” window, and inspirational words such as “Happy,” “Eternity,” “Gratitude,” “Peace,” “Faith,” “Love,” and “Hope” in the “day” window. That’s right, instead of the day and date, these Rolex dials rotate through a selection of cute images and affirmations. Whether or not these Rolex dials speak to your taste, what’s clear is that they are here to bring on some smiles.
Oyster Perpetual Celebration
Another fun Rolex dial that doesn’t take itself too seriously unveiled at Watches and Watches 2023 was the Celebration dial, fitted into Oyster Perpetual 31, 36, and 41 watches. Inspired by the colorful line of OP watches that Rolex released in 2020, these Oyster Perpetual Celebration models combine all the vibrant lacquered hues of that line, but in bubble form.
What we have here is various-sized and black-outlined bubbles in candy pink, turquoise blue, yellow, coral red, and green, all sitting on a turquoise background. Think Dippin’ Dots. And what’s more joyful than a Rolex dial that resembles little beads of rainbow-colored ice cream? Not much in my book.
Rolex Stone Dials
Rolex has had a history of making natural stone dials, playing with materials such as lapis lazuli, malachite, tiger’s eye, and even fossils since the 1970s. To spectacular effect, might I add. Thankfully, the craft continues strong at Rolex and we were recently treated to a trio of new Rolex Day-Date watches with stone dials as recently as Watches & Wonders 2023.
These stunning Rolex stone dials, which were apparently inspired by the Mediterranean coast (how chic), come in a trio of flavors: crystalized green aventurine paired with the Everose gold model, naturally striped carnelian combined with the yellow gold version, and turquoise with natural veining teamed up with the white gold edition. All three stone dials are topped with diamond-set Roman numerals, which match the diamond-set bezels flawlessly.
Would You Pick a Crazy Rolex Dial?
Obviously, the sensible thing to do when buying a Rolex watch is to go for a classic and neutral one – black, white, gray, champagne, silver, and maybe even blue. These colors are easier to coordinate with anything else you’re wearing and because they’re classics, they’ll never go out of style.
Yet, for some of us, picking a quirky dial, one that most would consider “just too much,” is appealing. The juxtaposition of a conservative Rolex watch with an offbeat face can yield interesting results, and create a watch that’s hard not to look at. And that’s all I want at this point in my watch madness journey – a watch that I can’t stop looking at.
How about you? Would you opt for an out-of-left-field-Rolex dial or do you prefer to stick to the classics? Sound off in the comments below!
All Images courtesy of rolex.com