When discussing Rolex watches, there are a lot of terms that come up specific to the brand. Rolexicon, so to speak. Words like Cerachrom (proprietary ceramic alloy), Rolesor (combination of steel and gold), Rolesium (combination of steel and platinum), and Everose (patented rose gold alloy), may mean nothing to most people, but to Rolex enthusiasts, they mean a great deal. Another Rolex term that you may come across in the Rolex realm is “serti dial.” What exactly are Rolex serti dials? Let’s find out, shall we?
Serti is Short for “Sertissage”
The word “serti” is derived from the French word “sertissage,” which means ” gem setting.” So Rolex serti dials are dials set with precious gems, including diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. While the company uses the term “sertissage” to refer to all of their gem-set dials, in Rolex collecting circles, a Rolex serti dial typically refers to vintage Submariners with diamond and sapphire dials, vintage GMT-Master models with diamond and ruby dials, and discontinued Yacht
Gem-setting is serious business at Rolex. In fact, the Swiss watchmaking giant has its own gem-setting department that not only boasts expert master jewelers to decorate the watches but also a branch of experts in charge of selecting and sourcing the finest diamonds and other gemstones destined for Rolex watches.
It’s important to note that there is a big difference between a Rolex factory diamond dial and a Rolex watch fitted with an aftermarket dial set with stones. In almost all instances, the factory diamond dial is going to be much better quality than a custom diamond dial. What’s more, there is much more demand (and therefore value) for an original Rolex diamond dial compared to an aftermarket one.
Submariner with Rolex Serti Dials
When exploring Rolex serti dials, you’ll find that vintage Submariner Sertis are particularly popular in the secondary market. They are most often found on vintage two-tone Submariner Date watches, such as the ref. 16803 and the ref. 16613. There are also examples of vintage yellow gold Submariner watches with serti dials, like the ref. 16808 and the ref. 16613.
Vintage Submariner serti dials include eight diamond hour markers and three sapphire hour markers at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock–leaving room for the date window at 3 o’clock. Rolex did make gem-set dials for modern ceramic Submariners for a short while too (white gold, yellow gold, and two-tone models) but these only included diamond hour makers and no sapphires.
GMT-Master with Rolex Serti Dials
Similar in style to the Rolex Sertis are the GMT-Master Sertis. However, instead of sapphires, GMT-Master watches with Rolex Serti dials mix diamond hour markers with ruby indexes at 6, 9, and 12 o’clock.
Some examples of GMT-Master watches with these special gem-set dials include the vintage GMT-Master ref. 16758 in yellow gold as well as the vintage GMT-Master ref. 16753 in two-tone steel and yellow gold. Rolex also made serti dials for GMT-Master II watches, found on the yellow gold ref. 16718 and the two-tone ref. 16713. GMT-Master Sertis are paired with either black bezels or bronze “Root-beer” bezels.
Yacht-Master with Rolex Serti Dials
While Submariner Sertis and GMT-Master Sertis are the most known, Rolex also fitted some Yacht-Master models with serti dials. Yacht-Master Serti watches typically have mother-of-pearl dials too, which makes them even more lavish. Interestingly, there are Yacht-Master watches with serti dials that either mix diamond and sapphire indices and ones that have all ruby hour markers.
Like the Subs and GMTs, you can find the Rolex serti dials on 18k yellow gold Yacht-Master models in addition to two-tone steel and yellow gold Yacht-Master models. However, since there are different Yacht-Master sizes, you can also find them on the bigger men’s 40mm Yacht-Master ref. 16628 (yellow gold) and ref. 16623 (two-tone) and the smaller ladies’ 29mm Yacht-Master ref. 69628 or ref. 169628 (yellow gold) and the ref. 69623 or 169623 (two-tone).
Remember, all Rolex watches with diamonds on the dials are technically serti dials–even those from the Datejust, Day-Date, and Pearl-Master collections. But if you hear the term Rolex Serti Dials being spoken about in conversation by collectors and enthusiasts, they are most likely referring to older Submariner, GMT-Master, or Yacht-Master models with gem-set dials.