In the case of vintage watches, small details are offered significant attention as they are typically considered to be everything. And when it comes to determining a dial’s originality, small changes matter a lot – yes, a lot! Why? This is because any service dial or re-dial will significantly influence the overall value of a timepiece. The watch dials from the 1970s feature typical, round little marks often seen surrounding the term ‘Swiss Made’ or ‘Swiss’. So, what these small marks actually are?
These little marks are the Greek letter ‘sigma’ in lower case, and such dials are auspiciously referred to as ‘sigma dials’. Interestingly, if you explore the vintage Rolex collection, you will discover different design details. Today, let’s take a quick look at the origin of Rolex Sigma dials and how it adds to the value of a vintage Rolex timepiece.
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A group of Swiss watch manufacturers who were the member of APRIOR or ‘L’Association pour la Promotion Industrielle de l’Or’ established an official initiative for accentuating the deploy of gold on timepieces.
You might be aware that the COSC or Controle Officiel Suisse des Chronometres guaranteed and controlled the designation ‘Chronometer’ to designate optimal precision. Similarly, APRIOR wanted to regulate how watch-manufacturers denoted the employ of precious gold in timepieces. It is especially significant on steel watches because white gold and stainless steel are the same in colour.
The symbol was the Greek letter ‘Sigma’ or ‘σ’. As per a US Patent Office Registration Certificate, this symbol indeed certifies that the asset is Swiss-based. And it consists of solid gold up to a specific standard as formed by the Swiss legal needs. Moreover, the mark is known to have been first used on 25th February 1970.
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However, the ‘Sigma’ symbol that is used on the bracelet, case-back or dial of a watch typically denotes the presence of gold.
Rolex watches that date back to the early 1970s mostly features sigma dials. However, you may also find such a dial on Rolex timepieces from the 1960s. The fact is that many dial makers used the ‘Sigma’ symbol before it was adopted officially in the early 1970s.
Rolex watches with sigma dial possess two ‘σ’ marks that surround the signature ‘T SWISS T’ below the 6 o’clock position on the dial. However, the letter ‘T’ refers to the employ of tritium as luminescence on the watch dial. Thus, Rolex Sigma dials signify that the hands and hand-applied indexes are made of 18ct gold.
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Although Rolex Sigma dials are usually found more on stainless steel references, there are also yellow gold and two-tone Rolex models featuring Sigma dial. However, Rolex used the Sigma dial only for some years in the 1970s. Thus, it is not surprising that the little ‘Sigma’ mark on the dial of a Rolex watch can indeed add to its overall value. Today, vintage Rolex Datejust or Daytona watches with Sigma dials are specifically sought-after among collectors.
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