Thursday, December 1, 2011

California Dials.

So, most Swiss Monsters are familiar with the so-called California dials. these dials are found on the vintage Rolex and Panerai watches. For those unfamiliar with the so-called California dials, the dials are distinct in the fact: half of the markers are illustrated in roman numerals and the other half are in English numerals. The name of these dials "California Dial" has always intrigued me. Why were these called California dials? California is quite a ways from Switzerland, after all,  so what's the deal?  I asked this question on and was answered by one of the most knowledgeable Rolex experts in the world. This gentleman has written what is arguably one of the best books written on Rolex.

Below is a copy of Mr. James Dowling's response.

The dial was patented by Rolex in 1941 and used by them on manual and automatic watches for about 7 or 8 years. It was known by Rolex as the 'High visibility" dial, as it used quite large luminous numbers. In the 1970s, when the vintage watch boom started, a LA based dial refinisher, Kirk Rich, did some dials with this design. They became popular & many vintage watch stores in California sent their dials to KR. So dealers in the rest of the US & the rest of the world began to call them the 'California' dial.
Good Luck
"'Tis with our judgements as our watches: none
go just alike, yet each believes his own."

Alexander Pope. 

For more information on Mr. Dowling and or the purchasing of his book (I own several copies myself!)
Visit HERE & HERE.

Above Rolex Viceroy.

Above a Panerai 3646 w/California dial.

Above Rolex Speedking.


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