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Old 30 May 2018, 03:37 PM   #1
powerfunk
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The mysterious shantung dials a.k.a. mosaic dials

I've been fascinated with Rolexes with shantung a.k.a. mosaic dials lately, and they seem to be one of the lesser-known secrets of the Rolex world. If I'm wrong about any of this, feel free to chime in.

Shantung is a woven silk fabric with an interesting texture. Rolex's shantung dials have silk threads painstakingly woven horizontally. They were apparently only made for Asian markets, and span roughly 1968-1978 (2.3-5.5 mil serial range). I've also read that Rolex Japan made them. (If anyone has seen original papers for a shantung/mosaic dial Rolex indicating an original sale outside of Asia I'd love to know about it!)

Here's a 1500, seemingly the most common model to feature a shantung dial:



"Isn't that a linen dial?" some of you might say. But no, linen dials have visible crosshatches, i.e. lines going up and down. There are no vertical threads on shantung/mosaic dials! But many, many sellers incorrectly list shantung dials as linen dials. Poring through images of supposed linen dials is how I found many shantung dials. Here are all the other variations of shantung dials I was able to find:

1500 with blue shantung dial:


1603 with blue shantung dial:


1514 with brown shantung dial:


1503 with brown shantung dial:


1503 with silver shantung dial:


1005 with gold shantung dial:


1005 with silver shantung dial:


I would love to see more pics/info about shantung/mosaic dials if anyone has any!
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Old 30 May 2018, 10:13 PM   #2
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Very interesting, power, thanks for posting. I have a linen dial on an old 6694 and the texturing adds a lot of interest to the dial IMO, but these you show us are even subtler, I like it!
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Old 30 May 2018, 10:44 PM   #3
Richard Carver
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I've seen these over the years and assumed they were aftermarket. Are there any catalog shots or just legend?
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Old 30 May 2018, 10:55 PM   #4
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Interesting.
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Old 1 June 2018, 09:46 PM   #5
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Wow! Thanks for the info. So great to learn something new even after studying the brand for awhile.

The so called shantung dials have been discussed some some time ago here

https://www.rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=309884

A couple TRF members stated the actual part number for the dial as 13/16008-8 . Google was unable to turn up anything with the part number alone.

Someone with the Rolex parts catalogue from that era might have more details.

How do I tag Alpino on this thread and ask for his help?
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Old 1 June 2018, 11:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronocrass View Post
Wow! Thanks for the info. So great to learn something new even after studying the brand for awhile.

The so called shantung dials have been discussed some some time ago here

https://www.rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=309884

A couple TRF members stated the actual part number for the dial as 13/16008-8 . Google was unable to turn up anything with the part number alone.

Someone with the Rolex parts catalogue from that era might have more details.

How do I tag Alpino on this thread and ask for his help?
I saw that. That part number may be a red herring. The guy who has that dial says it looks normal, and it has Romans (I haven't seen any shantung or even linen dials with Romans). Maybe a different/incorrect use of the word? It's a province in China so maybe different meaning depending on context

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Old 2 June 2018, 12:49 AM   #7
powerfunk
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Nevermind that's actually a different thread than I was thinking of. Sounds like his dial is textured, interesting. Still haven't seen any good pics of the 13/16008-8 dial though!
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Old 2 June 2018, 04:20 AM   #8
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Have to check my linen dial that I have stored away...might not even be a Linen dial. Thx for the info!
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Old 2 June 2018, 04:33 AM   #9
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Wow, these are beautiful! I had no idea about these Shantung dials. Interesting thread. Thanks for posting!
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Old 2 June 2018, 05:46 AM   #10
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I think I might have a couple.
Had never heard of the term mosiac or shantung before.

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Old 2 June 2018, 05:51 AM   #11
powerfunk
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I think I might have a couple.
Had never heard of the term mosiac or shantung before.

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Awesome 1501! Thanks for sharing. Does it look silk-like up close? :)

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Old 2 June 2018, 02:02 PM   #12
MILGAUSS88
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I never thought of it as silk, just a textured dial.
It reminds me more of the hammered copper or metal look.
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Old 15 July 2019, 09:28 AM   #13
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Regarding its oriental heritage:

I bought mine in 1974, blue linen a.k.a. brick a.k.a. mosaic a.k.a. shantung, with the traditional "engine turned bezel" (see photo two posts above), for half price, as an insurance settlement with a jeweler in Philadelphia. The watch was fine, but the box had smoke damage, thus half price ... $175.

I had it until 2010, when it was stolen from my house while I was in hospital. 36 years. Still going strong when I last saw it.

Wish I had the Rolex description of it ... I think they just called it "blue".

But ... a watch for an oriental market in Philadelphia?

When its went in for its overhauls over the years, several dealers said they had never seen one like it.

I just gave one to a very good friend, as a birthday present.
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Old 15 July 2019, 09:44 AM   #14
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I have seen these in Bangkok back in the late 70's.

I forgot all about them, and to see them again, well, thanks for these images and a memory jogging !

Will keep an eye out for this very special dial...

Thanks,
Randy
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Old 15 July 2019, 10:26 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by STEELINOX View Post
I have seen these in Bangkok back in the late 70's.

I forgot all about them, and to see them again, well, thanks for these images and a memory jogging !

Will keep an eye out for this very special dial...

Thanks,
Randy
Randy! I just noticed that you changed your location to Earthquakeville! Hope you're OK, besides a rockin' and rollin'.
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Old 15 July 2019, 11:12 PM   #16
Johny
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Very interesting.
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Old 16 July 2019, 03:22 AM   #17
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Randy! I just noticed that you changed your location to Earthquakeville! Hope you're OK, besides a rockin' and rollin'.
Not anywheres near the last big hit. Still down in the east part of San Diego, known as La Mesa
Still, the wife felt [it] shake while at work in La Jolla...

Thanks,
Randy
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Old 16 July 2019, 06:02 AM   #18
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Nice write up I have had a few over the years


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Old 16 July 2019, 06:34 AM   #19
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Great write up, thanks for sharing
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