Over the past 10 or 15 years, the term “tropical dial” has started cropping up in the watch world. Where previously, collectors only valued timepieces in pristine condition, they have recently begun to consider the implied rarity of watches that are a bit more worn, especially when it comes to high-end brands such as Rolex. For the uninitiated, a tropical dial is one that’s been given a particular discoloration from certain “tropical” conditions such as humidity and high UV exposure from the sun. And since most wearers would have sent their damaged watches back to the company, the number of tropical watches became less and less, thus making them more desirable for many enthusiasts.
Today, Bob’s Watches is auctioning off four different vintage Rolex watches with tropical dials, ranging in years from 1966 to 1972. The marquee item is the “Double Red” Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665 from 1972 with a black bezel. Housed in a stainless steel case, the black dial is in the nascent tropical stages, making it a great choice for collectors who want more wardrobe versatility than a fully brown-colored dial might preclude them with. Likewise, the Submariner 1680 with a gray bezel, circa 1970, has younger tropical features on its matte black dial, the nature of which also provides it with a unique aesthetic compared to earlier tropical Submariners.
If the fuchsia and blue bezel weren’t striking enough on the GMT-Master Ref. 1675, then its red-leaning tropical dial will surely garner interest. Interestingly enough, the hour markers have still retained a good deal of the original color despite the discolored face. On the other hand, the Explorer 1016 from 1966 exemplifies the possibilities of a tropical dial. It doesn’t just display its browning more prominently compared to the other three (to pair along with its patina indices), but in a way that’s much less radial than its counterparts, which gives the timepiece a curious provenance for the new owner.
You can bid on all of the four tropical watches on Bob’s Watches until the end of the day on September 14. Currently, the Submariner and Explorer each have a current bid $29,000, while the GMT sits at $36,000 and the Sea-Dweller at $54,000.