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Old 1 July 2020, 05:43 AM   #1
miamiclay
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“Briar root” wood dial?

At the Phillips Geneva auction last weekend, one lot was THIS 18039, described as having a “briar root wood” dial. Briar root would be a reasonable dial choice, as it has interlocking grain like burls, minimizing checks or cracks in drying (one reason briar is used mostly for pipe bowls).

However, as far as I know, the only wood species offered for the 1803x dials were walnut, mahogany and birch burls. Is briar root another option Rolex offered (perhaps only briefly circa 1983), or is this just an error in Phillips’ auction description?
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Old 1 July 2020, 06:46 AM   #2
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Old 1 July 2020, 09:02 AM   #3
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Could this be the same watch ? Here they call it a Birch Briar Wood Dial.

https://timexchange.com/portfolio/ro...dial-ref-18039
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Old 1 July 2020, 09:24 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by carwashchris View Post
Could this be the same watch ? Here they call it a Birch Briar Wood Dial.

https://timexchange.com/portfolio/ro...dial-ref-18039
I saw this as well when I googled it but figured he had already seen it. The hands don’t look the same, but could of been swapped. But I’m right there with ya Chris :)
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Old 1 July 2020, 09:28 AM   #5
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Good question! I've been trying to nail down the various wood dials for a while.

Other than the 3 you listed (and apparently briar wood) I believe oak was an option too:


And madrona/madrone:
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Old 1 July 2020, 09:32 AM   #6
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I've also seen "burlwood" dials. Briar root is a type of burlwood, so maybe they're the same thing? Doesn't look like the same color though:

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Old 1 July 2020, 09:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamiclay View Post
At the Phillips Geneva auction last weekend, one lot was THIS 18039, described as having a “briar root wood” dial. Briar root would be a reasonable dial choice, as it has interlocking grain like burls, minimizing checks or cracks in drying (one reason briar is used mostly for pipe bowls).

However, as far as I know, the only wood species offered for the 1803x dials were walnut, mahogany and birch burls. Is briar root another option Rolex offered (perhaps only briefly circa 1983), or is this just an error in Phillips’ auction description?
.
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It just a birch dial. Imho.

There were 4 wood dial offered one is very uncommon. 1st pic the common known 3 wood dials ( credit for the photographer, not my pic) Last pic rare dial just called wood.



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Old 1 July 2020, 09:45 AM   #8
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I've seen that one called "sequoia" but I don't know how accurate that is. Your records don't say anything about oak or madrona?
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Old 1 July 2020, 10:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerfunk View Post
I've also seen "burlwood" dials. Briar root is a type of burlwood, so maybe they're the same thing? Doesn't look like the same color though
Burl (or burr) wood isn’t a type of wood like Birch or Walnut - It is the wood inside those big lumps, like goiters, you see growing from the side of a tree trunk, often at the base. All the 5-digit dials are from burls, just from burls which grew from those three different species of tree.

The catalog pages I’ve seen specify only the three in my post, I’ve never seen oak nor madrone (nor briar) listed.

The 4-digit “Wood” dials are different, regular straight grain wood, not burl. I’ve never seen the type of wood specified on those, though I’ve also seen one seller call it Sequoia. It could be so, those are obviously an open-pore wood.
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Old 1 July 2020, 11:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamiclay View Post
All the 5-digit dials are from burls
Oh they're all burlwood! That's helpful; thanks. Not sure why I never realized that. 3 known kinds of burlwood (birch, mahogany, walnut) plus 1 straight-grain kind from the 1803 era, and 2 unverified-found-on-the-internet kinds (madrona, oak). I appreciate you and David clearing that up
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Old 1 July 2020, 11:19 AM   #11
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Actually it looks like madrona is confirmed by this ad:


"These remarkable Rolex watches feature real madrona wood dials in 18 karat yellow gold...also available with genuine birch and walnut dials"
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Old 1 July 2020, 11:41 AM   #12
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Do you guys think this is birch btw? Seems like an unusual pattern. Thanks!

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Old 1 July 2020, 12:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerfunk View Post
Actually it looks like madrona is confirmed by this ad:
"These remarkable Rolex watches feature real madrona wood dials in 18 karat yellow gold...also available with genuine birch and walnut dials"
That is surprising! - I’ve never seen madrone/a* in a catalog, and the ad omits mahogany. Maybe some Swiss ad guy thought they were the same? Madrone is known for some beautiful burls, though.

* - The tree is usually called madrone, but it seems like folks up by Seattle and down in Mexico call it madrona.

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Do you guys think this is birch btw? Seems like an unusual pattern. Thanks!
I don’t recall ever seeing a wood dial with the *only* markers being diamonds at six and nine like that. Even OQs usually have the standard wood dial with small gold markers at every hour.
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Old 1 July 2020, 03:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerfunk View Post
Oh they're all burlwood! That's helpful; thanks. Not sure why I never realized that. 3 known kinds of burlwood (birch, mahogany, walnut) plus 1 straight-grain kind from the 1803 era, and 2 unverified-found-on-the-internet kinds (madrona, oak). I appreciate you and David clearing that up
Madrona is not unverified. It is still available through RSC together with walnut and birch. Mahogany no longer unfortunately.
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Old 1 July 2020, 03:20 PM   #15
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I took these pics at work..

Madrona for lady DateJust:



Walnut for WG DD:



And my very own NOS sealed birch dial for DJ 16008 (will put it in something else probably)

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Old 1 July 2020, 04:09 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerfunk View Post
Actually it looks like madrona is confirmed by this ad:


"These remarkable Rolex watches feature real madrona wood dials in 18 karat yellow gold...also available with genuine birch and walnut dials"

I thought we were only talking 1800series sorry. Yes there were a few others over different models.


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Old 1 July 2020, 04:23 PM   #17
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Never been sure on these two can’t find them in a catalogue. Onyx and wood combo what do you guys think ?





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Old 2 July 2020, 12:11 AM   #18
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Do wood dials require special storage to avoid cracking or other types of environmental damage?
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Old 2 July 2020, 12:22 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowncollection View Post
I thought we were only talking 1800series sorry. Yes there were a few others over different models.
Did you mean to say “18000” series (here including also 181xx, 182xx, & 183xx)? I understood that the 1800 series only offered “Wood” dials (of an unspecified type, & from a straight-grained wood, not burl). Given the prices shown, I assume the DD in that madrone advertisement is an 18000 series. The madrone burl dial in Bas’ photo is exactly how most madrone burl looks - It has a very small, tight pattern.

David - Can you tell us what, beyond madrone, were the other types of wood offered on 18000 DDs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by carwashchris View Post
Could this be the same watch ? Here they call it a Birch Briar Wood Dial.
It’s not the same watch, the pattern of the burls are different. And, “Birch Briar” is nonsense-wrong. Birch burls grow on whitish birch trees, the ones from whose peeled bark canoes can be made. Briar wood comes from the root ball of a plant that’s more of a bush than a tree.

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Onyx and wood combo what do you guys think ?
I would assume it’s aftermarket, but I’d love to be proven wrong!
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Old 2 July 2020, 01:53 AM   #20
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Do wood dials require special storage to avoid cracking or other types of environmental damage?
Keep them sealed to protect from any moisture and if in a watch, make sure that watch gets new gaskets frequently.

Moisture absolutely wrecks these dials, they'll warp and crack.
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Old 2 July 2020, 05:38 AM   #21
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Quote:
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Never been sure on these two can’t find them in a catalogue. Onyx and wood combo what do you guys think ?
Wow those are nuts! I'm not certain either way but my suspicion is that the onyx+wood one is aftermarket because the serifs on the Oyster Perpetual font look like some aftermarket dials I've seen. Not sure what to think about that pressed wood one! The text looks good
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Old 2 July 2020, 06:54 AM   #22
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Birch Briar Root

Strange though it sounds, it's possible the Italian furniture industry is the original source of the confusion and wrong description of the birch burl dials in both the Philips auction and the one for sale by timexchange in Paris.

Italian made furniture with a birch burl finish is routinely described as "Birch Briar" or "Birch Briar Root", and even though the description makes no sense it seems to be commonly accepted that briar or briar root really means burl in that application.

Just look on Google for birch briar root and you'll see a lot of Italian made furniture with that description, some with inserts of birch burl wood.

Why this is common isn't clear, but in an industry dominated by appearance it is easy to understand that they might call it briar if it looks like briar, even if most people know that birch briar is impossible and that the description is ridiculous.

Similar things have happened elsewhere, such as cotton wool or steel wool, but we accept those as everyday terms now and know that it can't be both cotton and wool at the same time.

So, if there is an Italian connection with those two watches, it is possible that they were originally sold with birch briar or birch briar root dials and over time the owners forgot or dropped the birch part and they are now described as briar root, meaning burl.
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Old 2 July 2020, 07:00 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SearChart View Post
I took these pics at work..

Madrona for lady DateJust:



Walnut for WG DD:



And my very own NOS sealed birch dial for DJ 16008 (will put it in something else probably)

Oh my !! That Walnut Dial for a WG DD
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Old 2 July 2020, 08:36 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamiclay View Post
Did you mean to say “18000” series (here including also 181xx, 182xx, & 183xx)? I understood that the 1800 series only offered “Wood” dials (of an unspecified type, & from a straight-grained wood, not burl). Given the prices shown, I assume the DD in that madrone advertisement is an 18000 series. The madrone burl dial in Bas’ photo is exactly how most madrone burl looks - It has a very small, tight pattern.

David - Can you tell us what, beyond madrone, were the other types of wood offered on 18000 DDs?



It’s not the same watch, the pattern of the burls are different. And, “Birch Briar” is nonsense-wrong. Birch burls grow on whitish birch trees, the ones from whose peeled bark canoes can be made. Briar wood comes from the root ball of a plant that’s more of a bush than a tree.


I would assume it’s aftermarket, but I’d love to be proven wrong!

Typo


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Old 2 July 2020, 08:38 AM   #25
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Wow those are nuts! I'm not certain either way but my suspicion is that the onyx+wood one is aftermarket because the serifs on the Oyster Perpetual font look like some aftermarket dials I've seen. Not sure what to think about that pressed wood one! The text looks good

Me too that’s why I have not put the pic up before. Likely aftermarket


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Old 2 July 2020, 12:49 PM   #26
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Quote:
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commonly accepted that briar or briar root really means burl
This explanation makes good sense to me!
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Old 2 July 2020, 03:11 PM   #27
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This has been fascinating! Thanks Clay.
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Old 2 July 2020, 04:21 PM   #28
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And now I have to get myself a wood dial. My wallet hates this forum.
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Old 2 July 2020, 08:25 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miamiclay View Post
Did you mean to say “18000” series (here including also 181xx, 182xx, & 183xx)? I understood that the 1800 series only offered “Wood” dials (of an unspecified type, & from a straight-grained wood, not burl). Given the prices shown, I assume the DD in that madrone advertisement is an 18000 series. The madrone burl dial in Bas’ photo is exactly how most madrone burl looks - It has a very small, tight pattern.



David - Can you tell us what, beyond madrone, were the other types of wood offered on 18000 DDs?







It’s not the same watch, the pattern of the burls are different. And, “Birch Briar” is nonsense-wrong. Birch burls grow on whitish birch trees, the ones from whose peeled bark canoes can be made. Briar wood comes from the root ball of a plant that’s more of a bush than a tree.





I would assume it’s aftermarket, but I’d love to be proven wrong!


Quote:
Originally Posted by powerfunk View Post
Wow those are nuts! I'm not certain either way but my suspicion is that the onyx+wood one is aftermarket because the serifs on the Oyster Perpetual font look like some aftermarket dials I've seen. Not sure what to think about that pressed wood one! The text looks good


Clay hope you are well African mahogany is another 18000 series wood dial





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Old 3 July 2020, 09:40 AM   #30
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Quote:
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Clay hope you are well African mahogany is another 18000 series wood dial

A wood dial with bark finish. Of course!
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