The many faces of the watch
The dial gives the watch its face and an identity of its own. It also displays the functions – hours, minutes, seconds, date and other indicators of time. Interface between the wearer and the watch’s mechanical movement, the dial has to accommodate all the information provided by the hands and the different apertures in a very small space, while respecting strict aesthetic and legibility requirements.
Dial creation is nothing less than a true métier d’art, or rather the sum of a number of skills, calling for both great artistic expertise and use of state‑of-the-art technology. Rare are the watchmaking companies that, like Rolex, master in-house all the aspects of dial creation, from design to production.
MOTHER OF PEARL
An enchanting kaleidoscope
Mother-of-pearl is by its nature full of mystery and surprises. Depending on its origin, it can be pink, white, black or yellow and, according to the part of the shell from which it is extracted, it can differ in colour intensity and structure. In different lights it can evoke a stormy sky, a clear moon, iridescent reflections in water.
At Rolex, the mother-of-pearl is never artificially coloured. A lot of work and skill goes into simply enhancing its natural beauty and preserving the original hues. All mother-of-pearl dials are unique pieces. An identical dial will never grace another wrist.
Some will see in its reflections a stormy sky about to be torn asunder by a streak of lightning, others a stunning constellation of billowy clouds.
TEATIME IN ROMAN TIMES
Did you know?
Much of a watch’s character can be attributed to the host of details on the dial... colour, gems, hour markers, numerals – Arabic or Roman, all so familiar to us. But how many people are conscious of a special feature of the Roman numeral appliques on a Rolex dial?
The use of IIII rather than IV is known as the clockmaker’s four, and no single, definitive reason for its use can be found. One thing is certain: it is far from being a recent convention. The notation IIII was used by the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks, and later the Etruscans, from whom the Romans adopted it.
In fact, it was not until the late Middle Ages that IV came into use – and when the first mechanical clocks were made, between the 13th and early 14th century, IIII was still in common use. The fact that it remains so today is often thought to be due to the wonderful balance it brings to the dial. After all, should modernity ever be allowed to interfere with perfection?