Band came to his quality replica Sea-Dweller after a colleague returned offshore looking to make a quick sale of a Rolex watch after a longer-than-planned spell of unemployment. He figured he could afford the asking price, but was sternly told by his supervisor, “you’re too young for a Rolex, lad, you can get one when you’ve done your first saturation dive.”
For the time being he carried on wearing his Casio G-Shock – which was a popular choice for divers at the time, even if they had to keep a backup due to the watches’ tendency to explode on the way back to the surface – followed by a Seiko 150 Sport, a rugged quartz dive watch.
He eventually bought the Sea-Dweller for £680 at Schiphol airport in 1986 on his way home from an offshore project in the Middle East. The airport’s Rolex retailer must have been a little taken aback by the scruffy 23-year old sauntering in dressed in jeans, T-shirt, and flip-flops and asking to try on the Sea-Dwellers.
A Rolex tropical dial is a dial that has discolored due to sustained exposure to the sun and minor flaws in the manufacturing process. Funny enough, the discoloration of tropical dials is the result of a special paint finish adopted around the mid-20th Century that was meant to make the surface UV-resistant – but it turns out, it had the reverse effect (under certain conditions) due to a chemical reaction brought on by sunlight, heat, humidity, and minor miscalculations in the curing process.
Due to the time it took for the dials to slowly change color, perfect Rolex replica only became aware of this manufacturing flaw long after it began. Naturally, Rolex remedied the situation by switching to a different coating for dials on later models and also switched out already faded dials with brand new replacement dials during routine servicing.
The nickname “tropical dial” is derived from tropical weather since conditions like plenty of sunshine and high humidity can often activate and accelerate the fading process. Many of today’s Rolex tropical dials had spent a considerable amount of time in warmer sunnier regions of the world.
While the term “tropical dial” is often used to describe once-black dials that have transformed into a chocolate brown shade, there are other Rolex tropical dial colors as well. There are examples of vintage Submariner blue dials that have turned purple, turquoise, or gray; vintage GMT-Master “Root Beer” brown dials that have turned greenish, and vintage Explorer II ref. 16550 “Polar” white dials that have turned cream. Plus, the faded “tropical” effect is particularly attractive on two-tone dials, such as on vintage Daytona chronographs where the once-black subdials have developed in a beautiful shade of caramel.
Furthermore, tropical dials are not exclusive to best fake Rolex. There are some fantastic vintage Omega Speedmaster Professional Moonwatches with tropical dials, and a number of other vintage watches can be found with dials that have undergone a similar natural color change process.