Special Dials

While most 1016 Explorers have the standard text, fonts, and layouts that are described on the other dial pages, there are some unusual variations that were produced over the years. Because collectors prize the unusual and special, these are more sought after – and frequently faked. If you’re looking at or come across one of these, the mantra “buy the seller” is even more important than usual.

Double Signed Dials: So-called “double signed” dials are those that carry both the Rolex moniker and that of an authorized retailer. The most common retailer seen is the American jeweler Tiffany & Co. Others retailers, such as Serpico y Laino and Cartier, have also been found but these are exceptional and deserve considerable scrutiny. Each company has other specifics that should match their signature (e.g., some brands etched their name or number on the case back). It’s not only the brand name on the dial that makes it authentic.

The Tiffany signed dials are the most frequently faked and there is growing consensus that the Tiffany provenance must be proven with original paperwork in order to deserve the double signed premium. There are a few types of Tiffany & Co. signatures that have been used over the years, so the signature must match the period:

  • Early Font (1959-1964): thin, blocky, and non-serif
  • Middle Font (1965-1972): wide and blocky
  • Late Font (1968-1989): tall and scripted

I’ve separated these by year and not serial number as the Tiffany logo was added by the retailer and therefore would align closer to the sales than the production dates.

The Space Dweller: In 1963, the space race was hitting it’s prime and the early NASA missions, dubbed the Mercury Program, had just been completed. The goal of Mercury, which was succeeded by the Gemini Program, was to put a man into Earth orbit and return him safely. After John Glenn became the first American to do so in Mercury 6, the astronauts went on an extremely popular promotional tour through Japan.

Popular belief is that Rolex attempted to capitalize on the space-craze by trying out a renamed Explorer in the Japanese market. This story is surmised since, as usual, Rolex is mum on much of its history. What we do know is that production numbers are exceedingly limited and appear to originate only from Japan, so it does not seem that Rolex took this idea further.

The Space Dweller signed watches are Type 6 gilt dials with the Explorer replaced by “Space-Dweller.” Notably, while “Explorer” is printed in gilt relief like the rest of the text, “Space-Dweller” is printed on top of the glossy lacquer. Three different serial numbers concentrations are known that span the Type 6 range, indicating that more than one batch was produced.

Picture Credit: Isringtime.com, Mentawatches.com, Matthewbain.com, Fourtane.com