Serial Range: 36xxxxx-41xxxxx, 80xxxxx-R-L Series
This is where stuff starts to get funky. Up until this point there’s been a nice progression of dial iterations with simple serial ranges. The Mark 3, on the other hand, has a distribution that is broken up. Additionally, they’re seen being used as service dials. The earliest watches born with these dials are seen in the mid-three million range. If you see a watch with a substantially earlier case number and this dial (the obviously one is a gilt range watch with a matte Mark 3 dial), it’s likely that it was serviced in the early/mid 1970’s and this dial was installed.
As to why this is seen in the 3-4m range and then not again until the 8m range is anyone’s guess. The fonts appear the exact same and the only differences between the early and later examples is the patina: the early range has the typically yellowed patina that you’d expect and the later range is cream or white, which is characteristic of that era. This also helps argue against the argument that the earlier range is just a bunch of watches with services dials. Apart from the fact that there are just too many original examples known in that range, if it was a later dial you’d expect them to all patinate similarly and not in two distinct flavors – which is not the case.
The Tell: This one is probably the easiest to describe in reverse – i.e. look for the obvious tells of the other matte dials and, if it doesn’t have them, it’s a Mark 3. The Mark 1 has the funky crown, 2 has the slanted serifs, 4 has the tall crown, 5 has the E’s in Explorer with the high middle bar. The Mark 3 just has elegant script with a classic coronet and no funny business.
Picture Credit: HQ Milton