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Rolex Buckley Dial: Background & Models That Use It

In the world of Rolex watches, there’s a number of distinct and rare features that fans look for within their watch collection. If you read the Watch & Bullion blog often, you’ll have seen we recently looked into the Rhodium dial and why it’s so popular on Rolex watches. 

Well, today, we’re diving deep into another rare design with the Rolex ‘Buckley’ dial. We’ll look at what fans mean when referring to the Buckley dial, where the term originated and some of the watches on the market that feature the unique look and feel. 

No time to waste, let’s jump straight in! 

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What is the Rolex Buckley dial?

To begin, the Buckley dial is pretty unique to some vintage Rolex Datejust models. This makes it even rarer as it’s only found on a very small number of second-hand watches still in the market. 

The Buckley dial is a set of printed Roman numerals found on some Datejust models, which differ from the standard raised markings seen on most watches. These printed markings were thought to be put onto a limited number of Rolex models to cater for those who struggled with reading the standard marking types. 

Whilst not common, it isn’t the only time Rolex has tried something slightly different to cater for those with visual impairments. Like with all things Rolex, what this also does is make them unique models that collectors, both with and without visual impairments, strive to get their hands on.

Where does the name come from?

So onto the name Buckley and where it comes from. Speak to anyone officially at Rolex, and they won’t endorse any mention of the word Buckley. That’s because it isn’t an official dial design, and instead is a nickname that comes from a famous watch dealer, John Buckley. 

John Buckley, the owner of Tuscany Rose, is a famous watch dealer from New York specializing in vintage watches. John’s avid enthusiasm for the printed Roman numeral dial ended up with his name being associated with the style, and thus the nickname was born. 

While Buckley dials weren’t that popular initially, the Buckley nickname and the now rarity of the dial make it a popular choice for collectors.  

3 Rolex Models That Have The Buckley Dial

Now we know where the Buckley dial comes from, let’s take a look at some of the vintage Datejust models where it can be found. 

1. 1983 Rolex Datejust Reference 16030

To begin, we’ve pulled out a beautiful 1983 reference 16030 Datejust model. This particular model was a special one as it featured a taupe-grey dial. In a range of models that focused heavily on a white dial, the grey was something new and unique for watch fans at the time. 

Of course, it also features the now-famous printed hour markings in black, and therefore it qualifies as a ‘Buckley’ dial. It definitely makes the dial easy to read, and when combined with the white cyclops date window, it’s a beautiful watch. 

1983 Rolex Datejust Reference 16030

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Of course, it’s not just all about the dial. The watch is a great 36mm size, comes equipped with a 3035 automatic movement and is all protected by a sapphire dial. This particular model was recently listed online for around $3,600, but you can expect prices to rise up to $6,500 depending on condition. 

If you can find another one of these on the market, it’s a lovely choice for those wanting a Buckley dial on the wrist. 

2. 1973 Rolex Datejust Reference 1601

If you’re after something even older and even rarer, the 1601 reference Datejust from 1973 could be the watch for you. Like our previous model, this watch comes with a grey dial, but this time comes in a much deeper slate colouring. 

This time the Buckley style printed Roman numerals come in silver and again are super easy to read. Given the age of the watch, you’re unlikely to find a model where the date window is a sheet white colour, and instead, expect it to have slightly faded to a light brown.

1973 Rolex Datejust Reference 1601

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It’s that sort of ageing that makes watches like these so popular for vintage watch collectors, though. Whilst this model might be old, it’s by no means low quality, with Rolex’s 1570 movement delivering 40 hours of power reserve, and all sits behind a Plexiglass crystal. 

Like our previous model, expect the price of this one to float around the $6,500 point depending on the condition. 

3. 1969 Rolex Day-Date Reference 1803

Don’t worry, your eyes haven’t deceived you. While the vast majority of Buckley dials are found on the Datejust, a super limited number of Day-Date models also feature a printed Roman numeral design. 

Head back to 1969, and there are several reference 1803 models which opted for a printed dial, and this white gold model is a beautiful example. Combining a sheer white dial with black Roman numerals, it’s super easy to read alongside the signature Day-Date windows at 12 and 3 o’clock. 

1969 Rolex Day-Date Reference 1803

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Of course, the Day-Date is a really premium Rolex model, and even in 1969, the watches were high spec. The 1556 calibre movement offers 48 hours of power reserve and sits behind a Plexiglass crystal, the same as we saw with our previous model. This model also has some lume on the hands, making it functional even during the nighttime. 

If you’re after a truly premium Buckley dial Rolex, this could be the model for you. At the time of writing, this watch was listed at $21,000 due to its excellent condition despite its age. 

Summary

The Buckley dial is another one of those unique Rolex tweaks that drive collectors wild. This simple switch of printed markings over raised ones make the limited range of Datejust and Day-Date models perfect for those with visual impairments. 

But in reality, since John Buckley made the dials famous, it’s made the particular models popular for everyone in the vintage Rolex market. If you’d like to get your hands on one, you’ll need a $6,500 budget as a minimum, and you’ll need to be patient, given the limited number of models still in circulation.