Foundwell Vintage - Rolex Datejust Black Sigma Dial

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A Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust reference 1603 model with a black 'pie pan' dial with white gold stick markers. Black dials are not that commonly found on these models. Silver was the most popular choice for these watches.

The case is made in stainless steel and features a model specific broader, ridged stainless steel bezel, not the more common fluted white gold bezel. This is specific to the 1603 reference. The watch is powered by the classic Rolex Swiss made twenty six jewel automatic calibre 1570 that also powered the iconic sports watches such as the GMT and the Submariner.

Either side of the "T SWISS T" are a flanking pair of “sigma” letters just below the 6 o’clock marker. This was a sign chosen by members of the "l’Association pour la Promotion Industrielle de l’Or (APRIOR)", to apply to dials in 1973, the charge was led by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry with a clear mission: promote when gold parts were used on a watch to enhance the perceived intrinsic value of a traditional watch. One must remember the exact context of what was going on in the Swiss watch industry at the time. Mechanical watches were about to become technically obsolete as quartz movements were on the rise, in a world facing a strong economic recession, no less. And what better way to underline the deeper value of the good old mechanical watches than by mentioning their intrinsically valuable components. The ‘sum-of-the-parts’ logic here might sound twisted at first, but it becomes much less so when correlated to the skyrocketing price of gold, which almost quintupled between 1970 and 1974.

The sigma symbols were proof that the hands and indexes on a watch were made of solid gold. “A watch signed with the sigma is a durable investment,” emphasized the APRIOR in marketing campaigns. There are exceptions to the 1973 rule, as Rolex watches can be found from around 1970, but with regard to this watch, and other very high end Swiss watches from the period, this is why the addition of the sigma letter to the dial can be found.

The watch was made circa 1978 with serial number 5068XXX. The interior of the case back is stamped 16000, which is a generic case back that Rolex often utilized for their Datejust models. The watch is in exceptional original condition with a wonderful late colored patine to the lume material in the markers and a slightly lighter, more milky color to the hand lume, but are original to the watch. It is common that the hands tone in a little differently to the lume plots on the dial due to the size and often a different batch of lume used in the factory. The watch comes with a Foundwell one-year warranty against mechanical failure.







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