Of all the varied types of ageing a watch may exhibit, what collectors call a spider dial must be the most contentious amongst people who really know Rolex. You think Israel v Palestine has some ardent extremists? Walk this GMT into the Hodinkee office and watch a civil war ensue. Every watch journalist has used the fine line that exists between patina and damage as a muse. So too, do collectors. There is not a right answer, but just what a spider dial represents is up for debate.
Spidering occurred for a brief range of Rolex models in the late 70s and 80s. Like many collectible things in horology, it was a defect. Rolex had a flaw in the lacquer used on the top coat of their dials, those worn hard (particularly those exposed to large temperature fluctuations) developed hairline fractures over time. Generally speaking, these hairline fractures in the lacquer are harmless. Sure, it’s objectively damage, but the coat is still ‘sticky’ enough that I’ve never personally seen the effect result in pieces falling off or anything near that. What you have is just a dial that looks like a spider has spun a web all over it. The effect is shown here on a transitional ref. 16750, where you get plexi and a quickset date. It was produced for just eight years, scarce relative to the 21 of the 1675. Particularly with a black ghosted bezel.
Do you recall that case, a few years back, of an amateur Spanish painter who botched a famous Baroque painting restoration to much outrage? That was a spider Baroque before restoration. I once own a 70s Suzuki TS185. The clear coat over its yellow gas tank was peeling, I spent weeks fixing it. My point is this: in any other context, ‘spidering’ is seen as damage. Now maybe I’m a romantic, maybe I’m susceptible to influence of others, perhaps I just love the misfits. But here, I think it looks mega. Please, don’t bomb my house, it’s only an opinion. It almost makes up for the white gold surrounds.
So the dial’s spidering is one thing. I will say it’s got a lot of it, if you like that sort of thing. The rest is great though. The indices are deep cream tone. So too, the hands. Its bezel is fully ghosted. The case has strong bevels. It’s a real winner, but one sure to be divisive. It comes from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.
Find this Spider Dial 16750 here from Amsterdam Vintage Watches for 15200 EUR.