What are Rolex Tiffany dials? In short, they’re simply regular Rolex dials that have been stamped with the Tiffany & Co. name, writes Bob’s Watches founder and CEO Paul Altieri.
However, that short explanation hardly does justice to the significance of these co-branded dials within the vintage Rolex collecting crowd.
While Rolex now maintains an incredibly tight level of control over its products, co-branding was once fairly common – a practice that really took hold in the sixties and continued for over three decades.
Much like rail dials, tropical dials, or Paul Newman dials, “Tiffany dials” are just another one of the minute variations in the world of vintage Rolex collecting that can have an enormous effect on the value of a watch.
But why are Tiffany dials so coveted and expensive, and which vintage Rolex watches have them? Let’s delve into the details with a comprehensive overview of Rolex Tiffany dials.
History of Tiffany and Rolex
As a well-known jewelry retailer, Tiffany & Co. has had a long history of selling timepieces from a variety of top-tier Swiss watch manufacturers, including Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, and of course, Rolex.
In fact, in 1851, Tiffany & Co. became the first store in the United States to sell Patek Philippe watches – and the relationship continues today with select Patek Philippe timepieces still featuring Tiffany & Co. branding on their dials.
On the other hand, Rolex and Tiffany struck up a co-branding deal around the late-1950s. The deal allowed Tiffany & Co. to print its renowned name on the dials of the Rolex watches that were sold in its boutiques.
Early Tiffany Rolex dials were done by hand at Tiffany’s flagship store in New York City but eventually, other Tiffany retail locations began stamping Rolex dials too.
Furthermore, Tiffany & Co. stocked replacement dials at its service center for repair purposes. Consequently, many replacement Tiffany-branded dials were either stamped at one of its service centers or retail locations, rather than being done at its New York City flagship store like the original examples.
THE DISPUTE OVER TIFFANY DIALS
Eventually, much of the dial branding was ultimately taken over by Rolex, where the watchmaker stamped the dials with Tiffany logos at its factory in Geneva, Switzerland.
For several decades, Tiffany-branded Rolex watches could be sent to either company for servicing and repairs, but in the early 1990s, Rolex decided to stop supplying co-branded watches, and would no longer honor warranties if the dial stampings had been done at a Tiffany & Co. location.
As a result, Tiffany & Co. stopped selling Rolex watches, and the two companies parted ways for good.
It’s important to note that Tiffany was by no means the only retailer that had its name on Rolex dials. Other notable Rolex retailer co-branded dials include the following:
- Rolex Cartier Dials
- Rolex Serpico Y Laino Dials
- Rolex Bucherer Dials
- Rolex Joyeria Riviera Dials
- Rolex Linz Dials
- Rolex VC&A (Van Cleef & Arpels) Dials
The trouble with Tiffany dials
Since both Rolex and Tiffany & Co. were printing dials with the Tiffany name, a variety of inconsistencies can be found among Tiffany-branded dials, and these details can differ depending on when the dial was produced and which company did the printing.
To complicate matters further, because Tiffany & Co. did not have a singular location in which all of the dial printing was done, an even greater range of incongruousness exists among the various Tiffany & Co. dials in existence today.
Consequently, properly authenticating a genuine example can be an extremely difficult task.
Due to the disjointed dial printing process and the resulting inconsistencies between dials, Rolex Tiffany dials are some of the most counterfeited dials in the vintage watch world.
Tiffany & Co. printed its name on watches from several different manufacturers, and since fonts, colors, spacing, and even the location differ from one dial to the next, spotting a fake Tiffany dial requires a keen eye and a decent knowledge of vintage watches.
Which Rolex watches can have Tiffany dials?
Double-signed Tiffany and Rolex dials were not exclusive to any one particular model. Since Tiffany retailed most (if not all) of Rolex’s lineup during the years that it was an official retailer, there are examples of many different Rolex models with co-branded Tiffany dials:
Air-King Tiffany Dial: There are a number of Rolex Tiffany Dial Air King watches, including the ref. 5500 and ref. 5501 from the 1950s when the Rolex and Tiffany & Co partnership began, along with the ref. 14010 from the late 1980s.
Explorer Tiffany Dial: When you think of Tiffany & Co. you think of beautiful, refined pieces of jewelry. However, the co-branding with Rolex allowed them to delve into more purposeful pieces, such as the Rolex Explorer. Tiffany dial references include the ref. 1016 and the extremely rare ‘blackout’ Tiffany dial of the Explorer 14270, which features black lacquer-filled 3-6-9 Arabic numerals.
Explorer II Tiffany Dial: The very first iteration of the Rolex Explorer II, the ref. 1655, also known as the “Steve McQueen,” can be found with a Tiffany & Co. stamp. The ref. 16570, which was just starting to be produced when the Tiffany & Co. and Rolex partnership was coming to an end, is also a very collectable Tiffany dial Rolex reference.
Day-Date Tiffany Dial: As a prestigious, well-known jeweler, it only makes sense that Tiffany & Co. also carried arguably Rolex’s most iconic luxury timepiece – the Day-Date (aka the Rolex President). There are a slew of Day-Date Tiffany Dials, from the first two generations, including the reference 1803 and ref. 18038.
Datejust Tiffany Dial: Of course, Tiffany & Co. also sold Rolex’s best -selling watch of all time, the Datejust. Models as late as the reference 16220 from the early 1990s have featured the Tiffany dial stamp, but with the partnership starting in the 1950s, there are plenty of vintage Datejust references with Tiffany dials, like the ref. 1601, and later-era ref. 16030.
Daytona Tiffany Dial: Even the sporty Daytona racing chronograph was sold by Tiffany & Co. retailers. This is slightly surprising, not because it’s a sports watch but rather because some of the early Daytona watches weren’t all that popular. It can only be assumed that compared to most other Rolex models, Daytona watches with Tiffany dials exist in significantly fewer numbers. If you track down something like an early ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona ref. 6239 with that famous Tiffany & Co stamp, then you’ve got something truly special.
GMT-Master Tiffany Dial: There are a number of Rolex Tiffany Dial GMT-Master watches, like the famous ref. 1675. Within the RolexGMT-Master collection, there are already a lot of great dial variations, so the additional Tiffany & Co. dial stamp can really put some of these vintages over the top in terms of uniqueness, value, and collectability.
GMT-Master II Tiffany Dial: The Rolex GMT-Master II was introduced in 1982, near the tail end of the Rolex and Tiffany & Co. partnership. Nonetheless, there was still almost a decade’s worth of GMT-Master II watches with Tiffany dial stamps, including the ref. 16760 and ref. 16710.
Oyster Perpetual Tiffany Dial: The Oyster Perpetual isn’t Rolex’s most exclusive timepiece. In fact, it’s often considered to be its ‘entry level’ collection. However, even a humble Oyster Perpetual can see a significant price increase thanks to having a Tiffany & Co. dial stamp, although they seem to be quite a bit less common compared to some of the collection’s more-famous siblings.
Sea-Dweller Tiffany Dial: First released in 1967, the Sea-Dweller came about more than a decade into the Rolex and Tiffany & Co. relationship. Therefore, some of the very first Sea-Dweller watches even featured Tiffany & Co. dials, like the ref. 1665, as well as the later ref. 16660.
Submariner Tiffany Dial: One of Rolex’s most famous watches of all time, the Submariner was naturally sold by Tiffany & Co. locations, and some surviving examples feature the famous Tiffany dial stamp. In addition to the date-displaying reference 1680, you can also find the no-date ref. 5513 and its chronometer-certified ref. 5512 counterpart.
Value Of Rolex Tiffany Dials
Tiffany stamped Rolex watches are some of the most talked-about and collectible pieces in the vintage watch space. They make up a prized niche segment within the already booming vintage Rolex watch market and offer the brand recognition of both Tiffany & Co. and Rolex.
The fact that Rolex Tiffany dials are no longer produced after being discontinued in the early 1990s, means that there is now a limited supply of examples available. And this pool of watches gets continuously smaller as collectors snap them up for their collections. Double-signed dials add another touch of rarity and distinction to an already sought-after reference and Rolex collectors favor models that have a little something that make them stand out.
How much is a Rolex Tiffany dial?
It is not uncommon for a Rolex watch with a Tiffany dial to sell twice or three times the price of a comparable model with a standard dial.
Additionally, if the watch happens to still be accompanied by its original Tiffany & Co. paperwork from back when it was originally purchased, it is almost guaranteed to benefit from a further increase in resale value and collectibility.
In August 2020, Christie’s sold a Tiffany dial Rolex Submariner ref. 1680 for $43,750, which is well above the value of a vintage Submariner 1680 with a standard dial.
In November 2018, Phillips sold an Explorer II ref. 16570 with a Tiffany dial for over $32,000 and in December 2020, Sotheby’s sold a steel GMT-Master 1675 with a black bezel and Tiffany stamped dial for $44,100.
For vintage Rolex collectors, Tiffany dials represent a past era in the company’s history. Rolex now prides itself on an entirely in-house production process and a tight level of quality control.
Co-branded dials, let alone the highly inconsistent dial printing process that took place during the Tiffany & Co. partnership, are not something that Rolex would ever tolerate today – and that is exactly why collectors will pay a premium for them.