Even before other fashion houses set foot on the moon, Rolex had already tried to reach space. More precisely the "Stars". With this article I want to deepen the origin and references of the Rolex “Star Dial” dials. By "Star Dial" we mean all those Rolex dials, which inside them instead of the indexes, have small applied stars, which make some models that Rolex marketed between the 40s and 60s of the 900 as unique as they are rare.
THE FIRST STAR IN A DIAL
According to my studies, the first star in a Rolex dial appeared way back in 1946. Almost 10 years before the famous reference 6062 nicknamed "Little stars", With a model emblazoned at the time: the Rolex Precision. The reference was the 4498, 35mm case, made of a rather unusual material for the time, namely steel and not a precious metal - something that distinguishes the following models.
After the 1946 Precision, the stars in the Rolex dials reappeared in the mid-50s, directly with the reference 6062, in the mid-50s. Below we will list all the references of Rolex "Galaxy".
Rolex PRECISION ref. 6282
Rolex ref. 6282 "Precision" (the Precision signature will be found in 70% of the Star Dial models) this model is also in steel, embellished with a black dial pastry shop, star indexes, dated around 1950.
We can see how this reference is un direct evolution of the first watch, given that 4498 was a test largely passed by the Genevan house that in the first post-war period, with the upturn of the economy, and the new world that was ever richer, bolder and why not imaginative, dared more; in cars, in architecture, in the way of thinking, up to the dials.
2705 ROLEX Yellow Gold
The first Rolex "Star Dial" in precious metal, we find it in 1947, also a prototype and probably unique piece, belonging to the collection of the great John Goldberger alias Auro Montanari. The reference is the 2705, made of 18k yellow gold, black dial and stars applied in gold, 3-6-9 dagger and hands
After the launch of these references just shown, various references follow which I will now show you in chronological order.
Rolex Precision ref. 6024
Only two of this reference are known, both in 18k yellow gold with a white honeycomb dial, once again we find the "Precision" signature, where the 34mm case is very similar to the bubble backs of those years, precisely 1959.
In this shot we can admire the Rolex Ref. 6024 in 18k yellow gold with 18k gold riveted oyster bracelet, 34mm case, white honeycomb dial with applied 14k gold star indexes.
'Rare Birds': ref. 6088 and 6098
Next we find the two most "common" references, which were produced both in steel and 18k gold, according to Christie's estimates of these there are about 8 known by reference: ref.6088 e 6098. These two watches are practically twins, with a 36mm case against the 34mm of the Rolex “Star Dial” seen so far.
We know precisely that the dials for these two references are printed by GENEX SA, which was headed by Stern Freres, the same company that in the same period printed the quadrants of the 6062. Not to be confused with the 36mm cases of the "ovettoni" also made by GENEX SA.
Of the two "Star Dial" twins, the rarest is the Ref.6088, and it has been demonstrated in auctions where in 2006 Antiquorum auctioned it for a record amount of 120.000 CHF. For comparison, more than any other Paul Newman Daytona.
In 2012 and 2017 the same reference reached record figures; respectively 363.000 CHF and only five years later it almost doubled its value, reaching 607.000 CHF.
In the photo we see a splendid "Star Dial" Ref. 6088 in 18k yellow gold, applied gold stars, on a black dial, dagger 3-6-9 indexes, leaf hands, its size is 36mm and the bracelet is a oyster riveted in 18k gold. The most sought-after dials for Ref. 6088 and 6098 are black, with applied gold stars, so as to create a perfect contrast.
To conclude with what technical detail, the two references just mentioned feature copper-colored movements, with the Rolex A260 automatic caliber.
rolex ref. 6090
The last reference in precious metal that we are going to deepen before moving on to some exceptional references in steel is the Ref. 6090; that is the smallest Rolex (precious metal) ever produced with stars applied on the dial.
The measure is 32,5mm and even the lugs are not the canonical lugs seen so far on similar references. The Ref. 6090 is also called in the “bombè” style, that is to say “dome”, due to the loops that present this curvature and swelling that makes it a “fake small”; in fact, thanks to its full-bodied lugs, the watch does not seem so minute to the eye.
Here too the movement is automatic, with the well-established A260 caliber, this reference was water resistant and is one of the few cases made of gold, but 14k and not 18k.
A peculiarity that should be emphasized and that unites all the references seen so far is that the small parts are always indicated by a star, except for the 3-6-9 which have dagger and rarely wand indexes, another thing in common is that the "Light point" of the index is always placed inside the star, which in fact has a crown in the center. The only exception is the Rolex Ref.6062 which presents the “light point” outside the star, positioning itself towards the end of the dial and leaving the latter flat.
Another peculiarity worth talking about and which characterizes and makes these pieces unique is the signature "Swiss" o "Swiss made", most of the models examined have the signature only swiss below the underline of the index at six o'clock, given the historical period.
Only one known reference, the Ref. 6090 auctioned by Christie's in 2013 for the sum of 50.000 CHF, has the dial marked "swiss made". The watch, dated around 1955, features a 14mm 32.5k gold case, domed lugs, black lacquered dial with applied gold stars and the famous “swiss made” signature.
We close the chapter of precious metals, and open that of steel, often rarer than gold.
rolex ref. 6244
A noteworthy reference is certainly the 6244, dating back to between 1952 and 1953 which features a steel case, a white honeycomb dial, applied stars in white gold and dagger indexes for the 3-6-9. with the "shock resisting" signature, a rhodium-plated 710 caliber hand-wound movement (15 jewels, with straight-line lever escapement, shock absorber, and Breguet self-compensating compensation spring) and a 30.5mm case, record for a "star dial ”In steel, also beating the Ref.6090 which presented a size of 32.5mm
rolex ref. 6426
Another reference in steel marked "shock resisting" is the Ref. 6426, with some exceptions that we will see later. Perhaps my favorite for both the sobriety and the elegance that the timepiece brings. In my opinion, the perfect size is 34mm with a silver dial with applied white gold star indexes, 3-6-9 rod indexes swollen at the end present only in this reference.
Here, on the other hand, we always find a Ref. 6426, which, however, does not have the “shock resistyng” signature but that of “precision”, the only difference together with the “light point” outside the star, present at the end of the dial. For the rest, the 34mm case, the applied stars, indexes and spheres are perfectly shared between the two references.
rolex ref. 1002
The last reference that we are going to deal with regarding these magnificent timepieces with the peculiarity of the stars, is the Ref. 1002, dated around 1964. Rather rare to see it with the stars applied in the white lacquered dial, all enclosed in a steel case. 34mm, automatic movement caliber 1520.
Unusual in my humble opinion, but beautiful is the combination of the steel case, white lacquered dial and star hour markers applied in 14k gold, which stand out in a rather shy, but elegant way. Leaf-shaped hands with rhodium-plated seconds, fine dagger 3-6-9 indexes, with 14k gold stars without light point.
ROLEX 6021 "Elegant Oyster"
We conclude this journey among the stars with a “unique piece” reference that literally struck me. The owner @w_jp_w found that we are dealing with a piece produced in a single example, namely the Rolex Ref.6021 "Stelline"
The "Star Dial" 6021 has a very special dial; completely printed, with some hints of bloom on a champagne background, we find the stars at the indices 1-3-5-7-9-11, for a total of six stars, and six Arabic numerals, also printed.
The unique signature on the dial is “elegant oyster” and “precision”.
Unfortunately we know very little about this magnificent unicorn; the case and the riveted oyster bracelet are in 18k gold, the spherical yoke is rhodium-plated for hours and minutes, while it appears to be in gold for the seconds. We are not aware of the case size, although similar references without this unique dial show a measurement of 30mm excluding the winding crown. The watch is embellished with an 18k gold bezel with “ribbed” sectors.
I dare to date it to around 1953, but I'm not sure, one sure thing is the signature "Swiss made", unusual for the period.
We don't know much about this magnificent reference, but I will continue to research and study. A small indiscretion related to the clock; we do not know if it is on sale but we know with certainty that on March 18, 2020 it appeared on the page of the well-known watch dealer based in Hong Kong "PnFtimes"" Past and Future Times "with the following photos.