Tropical Dials - How They Come to Be

Tropical Dials - How They Come to Be

A gorgeous Rolex President in white gold photographed and sold by Saga Trading Co.  

The dial came silver from factory but faded to a beautiful and even gold tone.

Recently, Bulang and Sons released a YouTube video discussing the process in which tropical dials can come to be. Contrary to popular belief, not all tropical dials are a result of fading in sunlight, although this is probably the most common process. They debunk this myth by citing examples of watches that have sat in safes for most of their lives, yet still display tropicalization from black to tones of brown.

In a nutshell, when creating a black dial, different pigments were used aside from black to create a much deeper looking black. Various pigments within this mixture can be triggered to fade depending on the climate and light exposure the dial was exposed to over time. Often it’s the absence of the blue pigment added that allows for more red and yellow pigments to be visible, thus creating the coveted brown colors that collectors hunt for in Rolex, especially.

Important references of top brands displaying even and well-preserved topicalization can fetch very large premiums. A 1665 Sea-Dweller for instance could, in some cases be over 100k USD with a great condition dial, especially if complete and unpolished. There's no doubt the incredibly even and attractive tropical dial had a large impact on value or a hammer price at auction. 

While it’s always interesting to look auctions and other top pieces sold, we thought it would be more helpful to highlight some more reasonably priced examples of tropical dials that we’ve sold as of late. This is an interesting subset of the vintage space to be hunting for and it doesn’t always have to cost an arm and a leg!

The “OG'.“ A Universal Genève Polerouter “Broad Arrow” Microtor which for many would be the pinnacle of Polerouter collecting. We sold this piece recently and thoroughly enjoyed the warmth and character that this chocolate brown tropical dial now provides. It was undoubtedly finished in black from factory.

Even more affordable and from top to bottom: The Eterna-Matic we nicknamed the “Lemon”, the Benrus we nicknamed “Caramel” and Zenith we nicknamed “Butterscotch.” All of these pieces sold at what many would consider to be entry-level prices and each clearly offer a wonderful unique patina and depth on wrist.

Wes is the founder of CCNY. His hobbies include searching tirelessly for the best Bloody Mary mix, petting dogs, and unironically wearing 6 camo prints at once. You can read his full bio on the about page.

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