41Watch, in collaboration with Fabrice Guéroux, presents this article on Paul Newman dials, a subject sometimes tricky to understand and particularly intimidating for beginners.
The Rolex Daytona "exotic dial", known as "Paul Newman" or "PN", is probably one of the most mythical watches on the collectibles market, it's equivalent to the Ferrari 250GTO or the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (nicknamed Daytona incidentally) in the classic car market...
Also, for more than a decade, long debates on Rolex Paul Newman dials have occupied the minds of collectors, and it's true that if we consider the stakes, namely the price of a PN today, it's quite legitimate... For a novice collector or a knowledgeable enthusiast, this may seem very complicated. It's actually quite simple and we will try here to make the information easily available.
The main subject concerning the dials of Rolex Daytona Paul Newman (or "exotic dials") remains to this day the famous "Step" / "Non-Step" file. We also find the term "Non-Step" under different names like "Texas Dial" or "John Mayer dial". And if you surf the web with these keywords, you will quickly fall into real confusion. But what is it all about?
We have endeavored to show you through illustrations what makes a dial original, what is a "non-step" and finally, how one can "easily" recognize counterfeit dials (nb: for what is "classic" counterfeits identified to date)
There are many versions of the "Paul Newman" dial produced over the years: Panda, ROC (Rolex/Oyster/Cosmograph), RCO (Rolex/Cosmograph.Oyster), two colors, three colors, generation 1, 2, 3... Enough to get lost very quickly... Illustrations below with a few examples...
However, there is a common denominator to these dials, on which the collecting world has agreed. The Paul Newman dials are manufactured on a so-called "Step" plate. Let's illustrate this to have a perfect understanding. These brass dials were made by the company Singer, one of the main dial manufacturers of the Rolex company.
Seen this way, the identification is relatively simple... Of course, it is necessary to see the watch because a simple photo makes it difficult to differentiate between a "Step" dial and a "Non-Step" dial.
There are many variations of Paul Newman dials, some of which are not original. A Paul Newman dial in the following version
...has simply not been produced.
The tables below represent the configurations seen to date and since the beginning of the production of the Paul Newman models.
|Black dial (three colors - black/white/red)
|Rolex/Cosmograph and Daytona
|6239/6240 (proto screw pushers)/6241/6262/6264
|White dial (three colors - black/white/red)
|Rolex/Cosmograph and Daytona
|6239/6240 (proto screw pushers)/6241
|Two color white dial (White background and black sub-counters - Panda)
|Rolex/Cosmograph and Daytona
|Two color Panda dial (ROC without Daytona)
|Rolex/Oyster/Cosmograph without Daytona
|Black "RCO" dial three colors (Rolex/Cosmograph/Oyster)
|Rolex/Cosmograph/Oyster with Daytona
Let's look at a "Non-Step" dial, now considered fake. We specify "now" because as mentioned above, this has been widely debated, from collector circles to courtrooms... The various protagonists who have investigated this dial have finally ruled that it is not original, even if none of them has ever really been able to know whether it was manufactured by Singer and then rejected by Rolex to eventually be "leaked" from the company and resold to collectors or dealers, or if it was manufactured by a third party...
The fact remains that it can now be considered fake despite a certain number of these dials currently in circulation.
These illustrations will undoubtedly be easier to decode than a dozen articles on the subject, especially considering that the chronology of these articles starts around 2013/2014. Therefore, it is difficult to keep track of the discussions as they have evolved over time. Add to this the "Non-Step" dials sold by renowned auction houses with descriptions justifying the legitimacy of the dial and you will quickly be in significant confusion. "Non-Step" dials are now considered non-conforming dials, quite simply. Maybe one day an official document will contradict this, but such has not yet happened.
And to make matters worse, let's not forget the dials produced (still to this day), by more or less skilled counterfeiters... but unfortunately present on the vintage watch part market.
Here we will make some comparisons with a real dial. The counterfeit that we are using as a model corresponds to a single dial and there are probably other fake dials with different attributes. But it is interesting to note that a fake dial, while it shows differences between productions and suppliers, the original Rolex dials, on the other hand, show the same peculiarities, according to their years of production. We won't dwell on this because specialized sites already offer a sufficiently large illustrated literature.
We will cover 3 aspects of this counterfeit
The dial above is considered a fake dial: it is "No-Step" and the configuration of its inscriptions is non-conforming "ROLEX-OYSTER-COSMOGRAPH-DAYTONA" (ROC).
The "Paul Newman" dials were produced by the SINGER company. The counterfeiters did not hesitate to affix this "signature", either.
It is interesting to note the differences in typefaces (font), especially the slash in the "R" and the "SJ" logo (Jean Singer) (left bar of the "J").
Even though original Paul Newman dials show differences in printing according to the references and years of production, the tools used still maintain a certain homogeneity, which is far from the case for the productions of fake dials.
Since everyone has agreed on the legitimacy of the "Non-Step" dials (and not on their origin), it is not so difficult to form an opinion on an original Paul Newman dial. However, it remains to consider the evolution of the counterfeiters' techniques. The tools used today by various restorers, particularly during the restoration of used cases, show us that the limits can be greatly exceeded. Let's stay vigilant!
By Fabrice Guéroux, with 41Watch
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