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Parthian Watch Company

Rolex Ref 1016, Explorer, Rare Glossy Type 4 Gilt Dial, 1965, Excellent Condition

Rolex Ref 1016, Explorer, Rare Glossy Type 4 Gilt Dial, 1965, Excellent Condition

Regular price $21,000.00
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Perhaps more than any of their models, the Explorer line embodies the spirit of Rolex watches: it is a simple time-only stainless-steel watch, without even a date window, that is at once rugged and suitable for climbing Mount Everest, yet discreet and versatile enough to be worn to the opera with a formal outfit. The watch is equally at home on a man of Viking proportions as it is on a woman.

This is a beautiful Rolex Explorer with a near perfect gilt dial from late 1965. The dial is a mirror like glossy finish without a chapter ring. The omission of the chapter ring allows for longer slender minute markers, which I have always found to be more elegant in a minimalist Bauhaus vein. Among the deep Rolex collectors this dial is referred to as the Explorer Type 4- Non-Chapter Ring Dial.  Rolex made gilt dials for their sports watches only until 1967.  The serial number of our watch 1052575 places the production of this watch to late 1965, not far from the end of the gilt dial run.

Unpacking the Dial Nomenclature

Type 4 Dials were made with Serial Numbers Ranging from 90xxxx to 105xxxx. The Type 4 dial represented the transition of Rolex watches from radium to safe tritium and were made up of two subtypes that: Early “Swiss” only dials, seen with an underline, and the late dials with “T<25” printed next to the Swiss – and no underlines. One of the advantages of the late T<25 Type 4 dial was that a thicker layer of lacquer was applied during the galvanic process. The thicker layer not only gave the dial a unique glossier mirror-like finish, but it also hardened the dial and made it more resistant to cracking and corrosion from the base metal coming through the surface. The glossy lacquer late Type 4 dials were only made for two years or so. T<25 designation tells you that the watch is non-radioactive tritium.

The easiest way to distinguish this dial from other non-chapter ring (CR) gilt dials is to look at the lower edge. If it’s a non-CR gilt dial and only has “Swiss” at the bottom, it’s an early Type 4. If it’s a non-CR gilt dial and the “Swiss T<25” is written low on the minute hash marks, it’s a later Type 4 dial. Type 5 and 6 gilt dials have the “Swiss T<25” written higher up within the minute hashes and replace the top third of the bottom 3 hash marks.

Gilt Dials Explained

It should be evident from our collection of chronographs that I have a particular affinity for gilt dials at the Parthian Watch Company. In addition to their intrinsic beauty, these dials are not possible to restore. When you see a clean dial like we have here, you can be sure it is as it should be. Many gilt dials were made with less-than-perfect lacquering and pinholes in the paint during production, so oxidation from the base metal gradually made it to the surface. If the oxidation happens to be even, the “starry night” effect can be beautiful.

Swiss companies largely abandoned gilt dials in the 1960s because of the expense and the extra work required to produce them.

Gilt Process

The term Gilt doesn’t mean the golden lettering is necessarily made of actual gold. The term refers to dials that were created by a galvanic coating process and appears on watches until the mid-late 1960s. Galvanization generally refers to a method of coating metals with another substance through a chemical reaction that binds them together.

In this case, the dial maker first applies the text, numbers and markers using thin metal filaments such as copper, brass, silver, or gold. Then the dial is dipped in an electrified black ‘paint,’ causing deposition of the liquid onto the dial plate. Next, the surface of the paint is gently polished off until the underlying metal filament shows color through the paint. Subsequently, a clear lacquer is applied over the printing. After lacquering, further text (such as underlines, depth ratings, etc.) could sometimes be added.  In cases of luminous dials, radium or tritium were applied to the hour markers on top.

The Strap on this Rolex Explorer

If you noticed the alligator strap on this watch, congratulations, you have great taste! This custom-made strap is made by ABP Concept, Atelier du Bracelet Parisien for this Explorer using their Strap Customizer tool. You can select Rolex from the brands menu and order a strap for your Rolex totally customized with an exotic leather and stitching of your choice. The ABP Rolex straps come with a water-resistant rubberized lining and hardware that matches Rolex beautifully. Of course, if you choose, you can move your favorite Rolex buckle over. We are the ABP Concept distributor in America and you can use the coupon code PWC15 for 15% off the price.

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