Rolex Date Ref. 1500 Black Sigma dial

With the invention of quartz timekeeping, Swiss watchmakers were forced to find ways to promote classical mechanical watchmaking. With gold prices quintupling in the early seventies, a number of watch brands decided to deploy a hallmark to indicate the use of the precious metal on their dials. The aim was to boost the perceived value of their traditional Swiss product. And so the Sigma dial was born.

Two Greek Sigma letters were positioned beside the T Swiss T (for Tritium lume) indication at the bottom of the dial.  These marks show that the indices and hands are made out of solid gold. In this case yellow gold on a matte black dial. A seriously cool combination on this Rolex Date Ref. 1500.

While these dials and hands are often found on steel Dates, the question is whether they ever left the Rolex factory this way. While it was common for a lot of brands to use yellow gold on the dial of steel watches, the consensus among Rolex connoisseurs seems to be that the indices and hands should match the case and/or bezel. This means it could be a swap by the original jeweler. Back in the days, it wasn’t uncommon to ask for adaptations like a dial swap or a different bracelet. Or it could have been modified later in its life.

However this match came to be, it is period-correct and extremely attractive. The cool steel and warm gold balance each other out in a stunning manner.

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