‘Tiger Eye’ Dial 1601 Rolex Datejust
The perfect companion for a Rocky III-style training montage, Rolex’s ‘Tiger Eye’ dials are one of the lesser seen but always noticed hardstone dials. They’re a product of the 70s, unapologetically so, and carry the flag for the brown aesthetic revolution still today. Lapis and Onyx dials have soared in recent years but somehow Tiger Eye is never a part of that conversation, whether for rarity or preferences of the times. The Tiger Eye is so named for the chatoyant effect that also renders in some feline eyes, where well-defined bands of reflected light interact with each other to dramatic effect. More than most stone dial Rolex, the Tiger Eye has to been seen in the metal, or in this case stone, to be understood: a symphony in brown.
It’s also worth noting that this a 1601 Datejust, not 18038 Day-Date where Tiger Eye dials are mostly observed. Stone dial Datejusts exist in quantity, but Rolex carefully marketed them in period very close to the price of a Day-Date so as to not compete with the big brother. Stone dial Datejusts were sold in smaller numbers. If you were going to splash out on a solid gold Rolex already, why not layer in complication for a small premium? But here, if anyone cares, you get more of the physical stone and less distraction. I particularly love that this one leans into its deserved regal status by wearing a President bracelet, which was an option at the time.
These were 25K USD watches for the last decade, but since the meteoric rise of Day-Dates and by extension stone dial Datejust, they’re hanging out in the mid 30s today. That might seem like arbitrary inflation until you remember that Tiger Eye 18038 Day-Dates have gone from 25K watches to just shy of 50. Tastes have changed. Hardstone dials are here to stay and Rolex never left, people are just look to the left and right of the Subs and Daytonas of the world. Hell, Piaget is de rigueur again. And I’m fine with anything that pairs well with Jensen Interceptors, chain smoking, or Ballroom Blitz by Sweet. I’ll take ’em all simultaneously.
The dial on this example shows no marks, signs of damage, or hairline cracks as far as can be seen in images. The case has probably seen a very light polish, but the lugs are still great. The dial is a T Swiss T, with no lume, hands but this is entirely correct. Dial printing back then was done before Rolex decided what was going where, in effect. And the President bracelet is a nice touch. It comes watch only from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.