THE GILT DIAL
This is the first type of dial that appeared in the Submariner line. Produced by Rolex from the 1950s to 1967, the term “gilt” refers to the gold tone of the text and other printing, against a mirror-like, glossy black surface. Gilt dials can be seen in vintage Rolex sport dials, including the Explorer and GMT Master.
What makes this dial so special, aside from its sheer beauty, is that it was achieved using a highly technical skill called galvanization. At the time, many watch manufacturers would simply paint over the text and markers on the dial, but Rolex opted for the more complex route. Gilt dials are actually gold-plated brass plates underneath, peering through the black gloss.
The brass metal simply reflects light in a way that paint or ink cannot match, giving gilt dials their much coveted charm. Gilt production fell out of favor in the late 1960s; and due to their relatively short production run, gilt dials are the most valuable and sought after among vintage Rolex dials. (photo: Catawiki)