Green Rolex Dial

What is a Rolex dial? And why does it matter?

A dial by definition, is the face of a watch or clock with indices and markings to allow for time reading. A dial swap is changing the replacing current dial with a new dial to change the watches appearance and or value. The dial of a Rolex watch can drastically determine the value and price, but more importantly, it can make or break a watch. In this blog, we are going to cover all the things you need to know about Rolex dials, including quality and production, how it affects the waiting list, the price difference, dial swapping and where to find an authentic Rolex dial. 

Rolex dial quality and production 

When buying a Rolex, the quality is in the fine detail such as the painting of the indices, the hand setting, materials and the lume brightness (glow in the dark). Rolex dials are hand-painted by professionals, and they do a fantastic job. The environment requirement for crafting these dials is expensive and time-consuming. They use a dust-proof and well-ventilated room to ensure no dust gets on the dial. All these fine details and small qualities is what put Rolex above other brands. 


When buying a watch from an authorised dealer choosing a highly sought-after dial may result in longer wait lists/ waiting time, for example a blue dial Datejust with a fluted bezel and jubilee bracelet will have a longer wait time than a silver dial. Now this doesn't mean that you shouldn't choose your desired timepiece. It just means that there may be a longer wait time for a popular watch. 


Many Rolex owners have asked themselves at least once "Should I swap my Rolex dial?" and there are many things you should know before swapping your dial, but at the end of the day it is your watch, and you are the one that has to look at it. So, swap it if you want to. There are some key points to consider before swapping your dial such as, is the new dial genuine or after market? Will the dial swap be professionally executed? How will it affect the value of the watch? Do you have the original dial? And finally, will your new dial say something different when compared to the model number found on the white swing tag? It is important that if you swap the dial in your watch that you make any prospective buyer aware of the dial swap to prevent any come backs in the future. We recommend always retaining the original dial so that you can revert the watch back to factory condition in the future. 


A vintage dial is something that many collectors and enthusiasts like and even prefer. Vintage dials show the watches history, and it has survived the test of time. Vintage dials often show discolouration, fading or spotting, this gives the watch a unique aesthetic separating it from every other watch as it ages due to UV, sun exposure and many other factors. Depending on the type of the dial and the watch you could see an increase in value due to rarity, a meteorite dial will always add value to a Rolex Daytona when compared to a white dial Daytona, but you must make sure that dial is an option for your watch and that the new dial is original. Most people buying a meteorite dial Rolex Daytona will want to have proof that the dial is original, and factory fitted. If Rolex service a timepiece they will replace all the parts needed to make the watch look brand new, regardless of your wishes, they will replace aged and aftermarket dials to revert the watch back to factory condition.  


The white tag is a small swing tag that is often given out when you purchase a Rolex from an authorised dealer but they have been known to retain these tags too. It can improve the saleability of high value Rolex watches with desirable and rare dials as it shows that the current dial is original or not. This white tag is less important for lower to medium value Rolex watches and has little importance to a watch that only have one possible dial option such as many Rolex GMT’s and Rolex Submariners.  


A dial swap can lead to an increase or decrease in the value of your watch, if you choose a popular and authentic Rolex dial that matches your watch the value will not decrease too much and may even increase. But the main concern when performing a dial swap on a watch that is no older than five years is that it will void the Rolex warranty. However, after the five years is up you can request a dial swap from Rolex themselves. Please note that dials swapped by Rolex at a Rolex service centre will come with a warranty, but you must service the watch at the same time. To change a Rolex Datejust 31 dial from a white roman numeral to a mother of pearl diamond dial the cost for the dial is around £2,000, fitted, but you must pay for a service too which could bring the cost closed to £2,750. The dial swap and service will come with a two-year warranty. 


Rolex dials are hard to come by, but your best bet is to reach out to a professional dealer and ask that they search their network, alternatively, you could use platforms such as eBay or Chrono24. Dial swaps are often performed to increase the value of older watches or to change the watches appearance upon request, ladies watches and older pre-2000’s watches are usually the most popular watches to find the dial has been swapped. Here at LBJ Watches we aim to only stock original watches with their original dials but on occasion we do receive watches with dial swaps, 9/10 times the original dial is still present. We do not stock Rolex dials, however, we have an extensive network of watch dealers, workshops and watchmakers meaning that we could help find an authentic Rolex dial or an aftermarket option if you want to stand out from the crowd. We can also perform a dial swap for you at our workshop in Hatton Garden, the cost is roughly £60 plus VAT, subject to your watch make and model. 

What is a stone dial?

In 1978, when Rolex introduced the quickset feature to the day-date and datejust they also added a collection of stone dials for both collections. Stone dials are dials crafted from semi precious stones. Stone dials are known for being incredibly hard to work with as some stones are particularly fragile and hard to cut.

Over the years, we've seen and sold many stone dial watches, and these have to be among our top 3 Rolex stone dials.

The Onyx dial

Onyx is a black gemstone similar to granite or marble. The Onyx dial is probably the most common of the stone dials despite its being particularly sought-after due to its simplicity and deep black colour. The original Onyx dials didn't have any indices, and it wasn't until later that Rolex added the option to have six diamond hour markers. The Onyx dial is one of our favourite dials because of its glossy smooth surface and gold accidents. The Onyx dial can be found on various models, but the most popular by far has to be the yellow gold Day-Date due to its prestige.

Sodalite Dial

Sodalite is a mineral often used in jewellery, known for its vibrant blue colour and being very fragile to work with. Sodalite can be spotted on many Rolex models despite the fact that it was originally reserved for stainless steel Datejust. Sodalite dials are often accompanied by Rolexes hand-picked diamonds, which pay the perfect compliment.

Malachite dials

Malachite is a copper based gemstone known for its rich green hues, each has a unique pattern. Malachite is exclusive to full yellow gold Day-Dates and Datejusts and that's ok, because they work fantastically together especially when paired with a leather strap.

At LBJ Watches we have a strong network for Vintage Rolexes and Rolexes with stone dials. We making purchasing a watch as simple as possible, get in touch now to see how we can help find your dream watch.


Authentic Rolex dials can range in price depending on various factors such as age, model, demand and details. For an off-catalogue dial, you could be looking at thousands, even tens of thousands, and for a small ladies' vintage dial just a couple hundred pounds. If you are considering purchasing a Rolex dial, contact us and we will be happy to help.


Although it is cheaper to buy an aftermarket dial for your Rolex, you should heavily consider it before you make the swap. Rolex enthusiasts and watch professionals will be able to tell from a glance if your dial is real or aftermarket. Aftermarket dials do not share the same quality as a Rolex although you can find some cunning examples, nor do they use the same raw materials. The text is often printed rather than painted by hand but if you want something unique, an aftermarket dial could be worth considering as long as you retain the original dial. A popular aftermarket dial is the mother of pearl diamond dial, found mostly in ladies watches, these dials can look great, but they are not made from genuine diamonds and pearl like the factory dials. Rolex uses the highest quality and clarity diamonds, whereas aftermarket dials may have used cheaper materials to cut corners and reduce costs. 


A final option for you to consider when thinking of swapping your Rolex watch dial is to customise the original Rolex dial. We work with a professional company who can customise your original dial to any specification. They can add diamonds, signatures, company branding, colours, or anything else you can imagine. These professionals have over 50 years of dial painting experience and the quality of their work is fabulous and warranted. If you choose this option, you have full control of your customisation, but you will no longer be able to revert the watch back to its original form, you will need to buy a new factory dial that meets the spec of the original to do that. 

What is your take on aftermarket dials? 



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