Updated: Apr 5
The world of Rolex collecting is filled with a great many things the average Rolex buyer might never think about. If you want a Rolex, certain things are unlikely to really have any importance to you. However, if you’re looking to really expand your horizons and begin collecting, nicknames like Pepsi, Hulk, and Batman become important. In addition, you’re likely to hear about a rare dial called the Swiss Only Dial. What its it, and why does it matter?
The History of the Swiss Only Dial
Nearly all Rolex watches are created with a dial that has an inscription above the six o’clock mark. Nearly every Rolex you can find has the words SWISS MADE in that spot. That is the standard but there are some Rolexes with dials that don’t have the MADE part. Instead, you’ll only find Swiss and those models are known as Swiss Only dials. These dials came about as Rolex moved from radium to tritium for the luminous material on the watch face to reduce radioactivity. Tritium, though safer, lost its glow over time so Rolex moved to LumiNova, a pigment without radiation at all. All watches with Luminova had SWISS rather than SWISS MADE on the dial. Never satisfied with anything short of perfection, Rolex moved to another pigment, dubbed Super LumiNova a year later. SWISS MADE was back on the dial. So, Swiss only dials represent one year of manufacturing, the result of Rolex’s constant focus on improving quality.
Why Does a Swiss Only Dial Matter?
Rolex models with this variation were produced for only a year. That makes them rarer and the law of supply and demand makes a rarer item more desirable for a collector. They are generally more collectible than the same models with SWISS MADE but how big an impact that has is up for debate, and there’s a great deal of debate about the subject. There are some who think of the Swiss Only dial as unworthy of attention and some who believe it commands a high premium. Who’s right? The answer is simple. If you think having something rarer in your collection is worth a premium, than it is worth that. If you think it isn’t worth a premium, there’s no reason to buy a Swiss Only dial unless the seller doesn’t add to its price. It’s not complicated. It’s a matter of opinion, not fact.
The Swiss Only dial is, above all else, a result of Rolex’s constant focus on quality and its commitment to continual improvement. If you want to find a watch with a Swiss Only dial, you’ll need to find it on the secondary market. Make sure you deal with a trustworthy pre-owned Rolex seller when you buy.