There is an unspoken rule, one which I’ve completely made up, in Rolex. If someone is wearing a dial without any indices, made of some exotic material, they’re doing so because they’re well enough off to advertise that they don’t need to know the time. They own it; they may arrive to all occasions at their leisure. It’s subtle flex, but what else could Rolex be suggesting? You certainly can’t read the time on this, one of the rarest stone dials out there.
Of all stone dials, malachite feels most appropriate for the coronet. If you’ve ever walked into a current Rolex AD in any major city to annoy its staff with your aspirational plebeian dreams, you’ll know why. The flowing emerald ribbons match perfectly Rolex displays, lighting, and even the box. It’s fundamentally on brand, despite being a naturally occurring material. Exotic stone dials are most commonly seen in the Day-Date for simple fact that they’re difficult to manufacture, with a high failure rate. It’s easier to justify the additional cost inside of the more complicated, halo-product President. But occasionally, the rarest stone dials also found their way into Datejusts, which are highly collected. And this 16018 is a quickset, which means it’s actually usable.
I am constantly asked what makes Rolex special by people who are not in our hobby. I’m never precisely sure how to answer. Is it the reputation they built mid-century as dependable tools for professionals? Marketing? Charity status? Whatever Rolex means to you, the answer is rarely playfulness. What do you call someone with no sense of humor, imagination, or privation? Swiss. Prior to the emoji monstrosity this year, which seemed like something one of Jean-Frédéric Dufour’s mistresses wanted, something as trivially flamboyant as a malachite or Stella dial was a rarity, a departure from austerity. That was and is something to be celebrated, even if it’s ultimately just another watch that’s going to be on Kermit’s Hodinkee Talking Watches next year.
The vast majority of malachite and most stone dials develop fractures and hairline cracks over the years, but I genuinely can’t find one here. It comes with correct non-luminous hands and LC100 papers from Wempe, from a well-regarded Parisian retailer.
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