While there has never been an official statement of why Rolex moved from gilt to matte dials in the latter half of the 1960’s, the latter seems to exude the ‘tool watch’ vibe that Rolex aspired to inspire — while (likely) keeping production costs low. These dials have a pebbled black background printed on a copper plate. The text, minute, and hour markers are then overlaid in white and tritium lume is applied on top. While definitely a less intensive process than galvanic printing, the continual tweaks Rolex made over the long production run of the matte 1016 (1966-1989) means the variations are anything but simple.
Please use the menu to navigate to the details of the individual matte dial variations or compare the differences using the data catalogue page.
Picture Credit: Lunar Oyster & Haywood Milton