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Old 19 May 2009, 02:12 AM   #1
Orchi
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TRF Rolex Library: Vintage Rolex "UnderLine___" Dials...Theory or Hypothesis...

Err...for years worldwide Vintage Rolex watch collectors...
n dealers have been debating about the RARE existence of Vintage
Rolex watches that have the perculiar "UnderLine" mark on the watch Dials...





These "Underline" marks on Dials are normally in White single underline plot....
that MAY or May NOT appear on Rolex watches that were produced between 1957(late 50s) until the early 60s only...
n which MAY include the following watch models that are HIGHLY collectible & valuable these days...such as...

Ref 6542 GMT Master...(1953 to 1959)
Ref 1675 GMT Master...(1958 to 1980)
Ref 6609 Turn-O-Graph...(1956 to 1959)
Ref 1625 Turn-O-Graph...(1959 to 1977)
Ref 6238 Daytona 1961 - 1967
Ref 6239 Daytona 1963 - 1969
Ref 6610 Explorer 1955 - 1959
Ref 5504 Explorer 1957 - 1959
Ref 5500 Explorer 1958 - 1967
Ref 1016 Explorer 1959 - 1990
Ref 6538A Submariner 1955 - 1959
Ref 6536/1 Submariner 1955 - 1959
Ref 6536 Submariner 1955 - 1959
Ref 6538 Submariner 1955 - 1959
Ref 5510 Submariner 1958 - 1959
Ref 5508 Submariner 1958 - 1962
Ref 5512 Submariner 1959 - 1978
Ref 5513 Submariner 1962 - 1989
Ref 6541 Milgauss 1955 - 1962
Ref 1019 Milgauss 1962 - 1988

Some may be in Black line plot on Dials that are either in White or Silver...
or plotted in White on Black Glossy Dials...

The "UnderLine" appeared either on the TOP Half...or the BOTTOM Half of the Dials...at random.

Until fairly recently...few versions of "explanations" by world renown collectors n dealers...
have often surfaced in conversations & published materials on the relevant subject matter...
either off-line or on-line.

Some versions of the "explanations" to the "UnderLine" subject are...

1. that the "UnderLine" present on Dials...is to facilitate as an alignment
for Dial printing by the Rolex's contracted Dial suppliers...

2. that the "UnderLine" present on Dials...is to mark the 1st batch of the
production of certain Rolex watch models...

3. that the "UnderLine" present on Dials...is for decorative purpose only.

Thus during Orchi's attempts to understand the RARE appearance of the
"UnderLine" on Dials of such Rolex models as mentioned above...
Orchi could NOT come to a better understanding of the existence of why
Rolex had intended the "UnderLine" to appear on VERY Fewer of their watches of those era...

Until fairly recently...when Orchi has had the greatest privilege to meet with
Mr. James M. Dowling(& his lovely Wife Minda) - the Author of...

The Best of Time
ROLEX
WRISTWATCHES
An Unauthorized History
by James M. Dowling & Jeffrey P. Hess

http://www.ukwatches.com/book.html

or also known as "Mr. Rolex" to the worldwide Rolex Vintage watch fans...
Orchi popped the question about the early Rolex watches with "UnderLine" on
the Rolex Dials...

A Very Kind Gentleman & Teacher that he is...always willing to share his
wealth of knowledge about Vintage Rolex watches...
James shared with Orchi...that the present of SIMPLY the "UnderLine" on
Dials alone were meant to indicate the formal change in the usage of
"Tritium" for making the Dial markers & hands to be luminous...
as intended by Rolex at the time...to conform to the regulatory requirement
by the authorities then...in replacement of "Radium" which was used for
many years previously in the watchmaking history to make the Dial markers & Hands luminous...
that was previously marked as "SWISS" on ALL Rolex Dials...until
the late 50s...or early 60s.

In its history of "Radium" usage...
"Radium" was discovered to be very lethal in its radioactive dosage...
causing harmful side effects particularly to the Dial painters or those that
have been widely exposed to the highly radioactive substance Radium"...
such was in this past infamous incident which had previously occurred way back in 1917...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radium_Girls

Eventually by late 50s "Radium" had to be phase out completely...
n as quickly as possible then by watch producers worldwide.

It was later ONLY became compulsory that the usage of "Tritium" with much
Milder dosage of radioactivity level(eg. <25 micro Sv/h)...
be marked accordingly either by adding the plot "T" at 6 o'clock position of the Dials...
in later production of watches by Rolex in particular from early 60s...

It was also during the same Transitional Period soon after the change from
"Radium" to "Tritium"...most of the remaining Dials in stocks...
that were previously contracted & made by the relevant Rolex's Dial suppliers...
had to be re-marked or re-printed with the additional "T" or "T<25 variant"
plots to indicate the MILD radioactivity usage of of "Tritium" instead of
"Radium" on the available Dials which had been Pre-printed with "SWISS" at
the 6 o'clock position of ALL the remaining Dials in stocks...
believed to be in limited quantities then.

Therefore...with Orchi's own somewhat clearer understanding of the purpose
n intention by Rolex for the use of the "Underline" plot on those RARE remaining Dials...
Orchi hopes to share the above...n the following articles published from the VRF...in here.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/20759...ne.%28scans%29

http://www.network54.com/Forum/20759...million+serial...

http://www.network54.com/Forum/20759...%3B..%28%2B%29

http://www.network54.com/Forum/20759...BT+SWISS+T%26q

Thanks for watching...
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Old 19 May 2009, 03:31 AM   #2
Orchi
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Err buddies...the above posting is a spin-off from the subject matter relating to the Rolex's usage of Tritium...where Orchi had previously promised to elaborate further at the time...in this here previous thread topic...started by Buddy Nacelle...

http://www.rolexforums.com/showthrea...hlight=tritium

Happy reading...
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Old 19 May 2009, 06:18 AM   #3
onkyo
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Thank you for this valuable information Buddy Orchi.

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Old 18 July 2009, 11:56 AM   #4
bartonjet
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great summary.

My conclusions based on my research support all of your hard work.
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Old 1 February 2010, 01:59 AM   #5
Orchi
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Err buddies...not sure what is happening with Photobucket...
but lately...Orchi too gets the dreaded message..."Bandwidth Exceeded"...
whenever Photobucket pictures are being blocked...
n not being uploaded...

IF you are using Firefox browser...
you could try the following...

So here it is...
what Orchi has discovered to be the quick FIX to the problem...
that Orchi wishes to share with the VRF Buddies here...
or at the least with those that are using the Mozilla FIREFOX...

At the FireFox browser...
TYPE...........................: About:config
PRESS Enter.

When prompted, CLICK............: I would be careful, I promise
Next Window would appear.

In Field "Filter", TYPE........: network.http.sendRefererHeader
FIND that Field at the bottom listing.
RIGHT Click the Field, CLICK...: Modify

On Next POP-UP, TYPE...........: 0 (instead of "2" as shown)
CLICK..........................: OK

CLOSE(X) the Window.


NOTE: For those that has plenty of pics being hosted in PhotoBucket for FREE...
or whenever your FIREFOX Browser fails to upload any pictures...
IF you wish to...you could undertake the above measure...
so as to prevent the same problem that Orchi had recently...
even though...you may have not experienced it...just yet.

IMPORTANT: TRY NOT TO BE TOO CURIOUS TO ATTEMPT MAKING OTHER CHANGES
IN THOSE OTHER FIELDS found in the FIREFOX system...

VOILA!!! ALL the pictures that were seemed to be "WIPE OUT" from the postings...
in the relevant Forum...would be uploaded n "RE-APPEAR" again.

NOT sure how that problem came about...
but the above quick FIX has worked for Orchi...
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Old 11 February 2010, 03:14 AM   #6
RCD582bob
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Where can I get prices on vintage rolex's?
Thank you
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Old 20 February 2012, 09:43 PM   #7
Orchi
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Err Buddies...perhaps it's about good time that Orchi updates this thread...

Hoping all is well here...

Coming back to the Dot & Underline discussions...
Did it ever occur to anyone before that to add the Dot on Dial found between...
1958 until 1962 was relatively easy thing to do...
for Rolex or its Dialmakers...
(not surprised to see only certain Dialmaker made the Dials with this Dot back then)

However...to add the Underline subsequently on a Dial found between 1962 to 1964...
all the existing luminous plots on the Dial could pose a hindrance to the printing pad...
assuming logically the printing pad was used to add the Underline onto the Dial surface...



So...it is safe to assume that the intended Dial to receive the EXTRA Underline print had NO luminous plots when the Underline was printed on...
This would be logical on the process of making a new Dial...

But IF the Dial which was intended to receive the Underline had luminous plots on it...
then it would be necessary to strip off all the luminous plots...
before the Underline could be printed on the Dial...
Eventually after the Underline was printed on the Dial...the Luminous plots were re-applied...
Hence...it could be possible that the Underline Dial was re-lumed by factory...
so to speak...
n it was NOT an easy thing to do...

OK...IF the above is logical...
Orchi inclines to believe(no concrete proof yet)...
that the added Dot would indicate Strontium-90 luminous compound(which was much cheaper than Radium) was used...
for the North America market...(which might include Mexico n Central America)...

These Dotted Dial watches would have ROW marked on movement similar to Buddy Tomvox's 5512PCG Sub posted recently...




Anyone else can confirm if their watches with Dotted Dial also has ROW marked on its movement next to the Timing Bridge?
This would be very interesting to know...even after so many years so far...no one ever mentions about it...
(About time...collectors of Rolex watches with Dotted Dial looks deep into the movement to find the ROW marked...
besides the Timing Bridge...LOL!)

Orchi found an article published containing UK Hansard report dated March 1962...
that Strontium-90 was approved n supplied to SWISS watch industry...
by UK Atomic Energy Authority at the time...prior to 1958.

"In Switzerland...Dial painter was seen bring home pots of Strontium-90 for use..."

<i>
BRITISH STRONTIUM 90 AND SWISS WATCH DIALS
HL Deb 29 March 1962 vol 238 cc1065-6 1065

3.5 p.m

LORD KENNET

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have any statement to make about the following, which appeared in the New York Times on March 17: " It was recently discovered in Switzerland that some watch-dial painters were bringing home pots of Strontium 90 for use by the family of an evening. The material furnished a cheaper luminous paint than that based on radium. It was reported to have been bought from a commercial agent, who obtained the Strontium 90 as a by-product of the British Atomic Energy programme." </i>

Full report here...

www.google.com.my/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=...Cuhu6RQ&cad=rja

Still waiting to find the full news article published by New York Times dated march 17, 1962.

So far we learn from various articles published & as well from VRF Buddy Harris's research would suggest that...
some time in 1960 Radium paint was banned for use in USA...
But there was no mention of Strontium-90 being banned...anywhere..especially in the SWISS watch industry..
except for the article of "Luminosity in Watches" which mentioned that Sr90 was used by US military...
in early 50s...

www.orau.org/ptp/collection/radiolu...nescentinfo.htm

Tritium was mainly available from US at the time from nuclear reactor...
It was even used to barter Plutonium from UK from 1960 until 1979...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1958_US-UK_Mu...fence_Agreement


No articles found so far would suggest that Tritium was NOT sold by US before 1960...
Might be USA did sell Tritium to the SWISS or German or UK watch industry before that...though.

Buddy Harris's articles mention the whole Tritium trade amounted to 22 Billion dollars since that time...
Hence Tritium was MOST costly as opposed to earlier thoughts...by comparison to Sr90 or Radium...

It could be very political thing by the US to create the demand for Tritium usage by the SWISS or UK or German watch industry since 1960...
It could be trade protection measures...or it could genuinely be concern about radiation...
No mention though anywhere that Tritium was in fact being used much earlier possibly since 1957...
But for sure Tritium was available from USA only at the time...(after it stopped making H-bombs in 50s)...
US was known to have kept large amount of Tritium stockpile...(no other market for it except used as Phosphor n luminescent paint)

Panerai Luminor was said to contain Tritium in 1951...patented? That is way too early to believe without any proof...
how the Italians could have access to Tritium in 1951...Orchi thinks that was probably a typo error...
It could be 1957...instead of 1951.
Strontiium-90 was probably used by Panerai for Luminor watches...from the 50s.

NEVERTHELESS...since the 1950s...
the UK was producing Strontium-90...
a by product from its Atomic programme...
mainly in Scotland...
(In 1956...UK had the world's first commercial nuclear power plant supplying electricity to the national grid...)

The Sr90 was readily available to the SWISS watch industry...
n being cheaper to Radium...Sr90 was likely being used back then...

Sr90 had 3 advantages over Radium with SWISS watch industry...
1. It was friendly to Zinc Sulfide the main element to produce Phosphorous paint polymer...n not cause as much damage to it...as opposed to Radium.
2. It could be formulated to yield colours...which could be more versatile as opposed to Radium.
3. It was much cheaper n being a pure Beta emitter it was less harmless as opposed to Radium(Gamma emitter)

With almost 30 years half life property...it was actually better performing than Tritium(12.5 years half life)...
Orchi thinks the last Gilt Dials passed 1960s and earliest Matte Dials with SWISS T<25 had Strontium-90 also...
or some other Phosphorous lume compound...instead of Tritium...(no proof yet)
Most other SWISS T<25 marked luminous plots on Matte Dials...
n even on those watches made in 80s or 90s are dead by now...why?

Even we know early Radium 6200/6538/6536/5510 watches etc etc or 6542 had lumes on Dials n bezel were mostly dead...giving mild or no glow...
The Radium luminous have darker or messy Patina...due to disintegration of phosphor luminous compound caused by Radium decay n exposure to humidity...
except for Strontium-90 ones which could still be glowing like Christmas trees even until today...
n these Sr90 luminous plots are still looking fresh n Whiter...with less or no Patina at all...

This would explain the Whiter 6 bar marker found on some Vintage Subs made in late 50s...
which mostly likely could contain Sr90...instead of Radium or Tritium.
The 6 bar marker looks Whiter...with less Patina.






Until today those dial with Whiter 6 bar maker...the 6 bar marker is still glowing...
but the rest of markers were either dead...or with mild glow...
visible under the strong UV light...

Some 5512PCG Sub n 1675PCG GMT with Dot are seen with Whiter lume markers...
The dial is still glowing...even after 50 years...due to less disintegration of lume compound...
Longer lasting glow = healthy phosphor...n fresh looking luminous plots would indicate the use of Sr90...




Terrence Ho's 1016 explanation - It has Dot n Underline on the same Dial...
n the Underline was added to indicate the lume plots were re-lumed with Tritium or another mixture of luminous compound...
Most likely the Underline was indicated for North America Market n the United Kingdom...
as well as Latin America...



Does anyone have any watches originally from Latin America or those marked with Serpico Y Laino...having the Dot...or Underline...? LOL...mostly likely it would not have the Dot...





How about original watches from European countries...Japan or other parts of the world...?

Anyway...we know commonly...
Dials with Tritium luminous plots tends to turn heavy or darker Patina...
So many if not most of Tritium luminous markers on watches since early 70s...are dead...giving mild or no glow by now.

Those earlier watches in 40s n 50s with Radium luminous markers...
would still emit strong radiation n yield higher reading...
but the luminous plots won't glow or would glow mildly...
simply because Radium degrade its other phosphorous elements like Zinc Sulfide...
akin to having good batteries in the torch light...but the light bulb is fused...no light.
(thanks for the analogy by a close Buddy recently)

Buddy Harris has somewhat sum it up nicely so far...
without the chemical analysis done on the various luminous plots used from 50s to 60s...
VERY hard to pinpoint any evidence of either Rolex or the Dial makers or the supplier of Luminous paints...
was using...Radium or Strontium-90 or Tritium...

Perhaps it would never be known...

Nevertheless...
The SWISS were neutral...
The SWISS finally joined UN in 2002...
n to put it crudely they didn't give a hoot about any organizations including NATO...or EU.

Apart from adhering to 1964 regulations to mark their dials with T...
(no proof or article to indicate SWISS did not continue to use Sr90 either)...
when it comes to effect...
or which to mark or which luminous to use...at the time from 50s to 60s...

Like many things in the various industries...n similarly on Watch making industry...
the luminous paint used on Dial had different formulas by different chemical suppliers...
such as Merz & Benteli n RC Tritec...

So far there is no proof to show which of the chemical suppliers had supplied the luminous paints to Rolex or its Dial makers...maybe Both did...
What was indeed used...either Radium or Sr90 or Tritium or others...could be a secret...
not clearly disclosed or known even by Rolex or its dial makers...

The SWISS didn't bother too much about what went into the luminous of their watches...for Europe...
or the rest of the world markets...
They were somewhat pressured in the North America n UK markets...

There was NO need to mark Dot or Underline in watches for the rest of the world...
at the time...as there was no reason to do it...

How come there was no hoo haa...or enforcement by US Atomic Energy Commission regarding watches made by Omega or any other SWISS brands being sold in US at the time...
in late or early 60s...?

There must have been caused by unfair or stiff competitions...
or complaints from the public...
but what the public knew at the time...nothing...

By the 50s n early 60s...Rolex was already successful in selling their watches n ideas of...
their watches being superior n used for many demanding purposes including military deployments...research n explorations like...
going on a ride with the UK expeditions to the highest mountain...
n going deeper into the oceans...

As the tool watches demand soared...especially in the North America n UK markets...
for these Rolex watches due to its hardiness...n accuracy...
much of the special features would include the luminosity of Rolex watches...

So to make the tool watches easier to read in the dark...
Rolex had experimented n produced watches with larger or stronger luminous paint plots on their watch dials...

The facts were perhaps in a buried history...

In 1999...Rolex ceased to use Tritium luminous paint...
Rolex switched to using Luminova luminous plots on their watches...
n eventually it was called Super-Luminova said to be supplied by Nemoto Ltd...

Strontium or its derivative of Strontium Aluminate is still the primary ingredient used in the Luminova luminous paint...
It is 10 times brighter n it lasts 10 times longer than Tritium luminous paint...
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Old 27 February 2012, 12:03 AM   #8
Orchi
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Err Buddies...

So far in 2011 n 2012...the internet heard the following...
"official" n "unofficial"...information from Rolex Geneva...
via a "Deep Throats"...so to speak...

"Official" information would imply...

1. Underline on Dial has no relation to the luminous on Rolex Dials...

...the adequate service checked in their archives that they were producing and selling Tritium dials and hands well before the questioned period with no underline. So clearly not transition sign...

"Unofficial" information would imply...

2. Underline on Dial has complete opposite or contrary meaning...

The answer was given to me UNOFFICIALLY by one person from Rolex Geneva (on the contrary of the officially "authorized" answer) and that person did not wish the answer to be published as it was "HIS" answer and not "ROLEX" answer. I just shared my finding with Marcello Pisani who found (as far as I understood) the answer logical...


"Deep Throat A" response would hint...

3. There is more in a Dial than the luminous on Dial...

It has nothing to do with radium/Tritium switch and I will add
nothing to do with lume material in general.
Now, the "UNOFFICIAL" answer given and that can not be posted is going
in a TOTALLY different direction concerning the dial, so FORGET any
lume content as that direction is a DEAD END.
The answer is TOTALLY different and somewhere else concerning the dial.
Geiger are way out of the picture from the begining of the story.
I dont understang guys why you concentrate since the start on the lume
material, a dial is made of so many things...


"Deep Throat B" rumour would imply...

4. Underline on Dial was for purpose of Canadian market...

As an internet reader...
Orchi would offer these opinions n suggest the additional questions...
about the information or implication from the above...
like these...


Item 1.

Before the timeline of 1964 or even before 1963...
there was no requirement for Rolex or its Dial makers to mark anything else on the Dials
where Tritium was admittedly used(admitted by...
the "adequate service checks of Rolex archive"...

Question A: But when or which year did Rolex or its Dial makers started to use Tritium...?

Question B: Does Rolex or its Dial makers know from their service archive...
which was the supplier or suppliers of the Luminous paint used...
before or after 1963/64...?


Item 2 n 3:

IF there was more about the Underline Dial between 1963 n 1964...than the Luminous paint was used on the Dials...

Assuming that the Underline Dials were only available in the specific markets...

Question C: What could it be SO SPECIAL or unique about the Underline marked Dials...that the rest of the world markets cannot afford to obtain from Rolex...outside of North America...
United Kingdom...n Central America + Latin America...?

Question D: Were all the Underline Dials made separately outside of SWISS...
in UK...or North America or Central America or Latin America...for these specific markets?

Question E: Were all the Underline Dials made by a certain Dial maker ONLY? Like Stern or Singer or Lemrich or Beyeler or Metelem or ZJ...?
Then why can't these Dials be available for watches shipped to the rest of the world markets...?

Question F: What is so Special or Unique about these Underline Dials...?
Were the Underline Dials made with special metal...?
or precious metal plate or Anti-magnetic property...?
(But why can't the rest of the world markets cannot afford to obtain the Underline Dials?)


Item 4:

IF the Underline was intended for Canadian Market only...
This information may be wrong or may not be complete...
as the Underline Dial watches were originally sold in United Kingdom...
USA...n the Latin America as well...(like Serpico Y Laino Rolex)

Question G: What could be so special on these Underline dials that the Canadian market had ordered in the past for...?

Might be that the rest of the world markets were too small or 2nd Class...
because it cannot afford to obtain Underline Dials from Rolex also...?

Question H: Was the Import Tax higher in Canada or anywhere in North America or United Kingdom or Central America or in Latin America...?

Question I: Other countries in the world might impose higher import tax on watches also...
like Japan during the same period of time...(to protect their own watchmaking industry there too)
Did Japan also order...Rolex watches with Underline Dials...?

Therefore...at this point in time...
Orchi wonders whether the above questions could ever find any ACTUAL facts n answers...
either "OFFICIALLY" or "UNOFFICIALLY" via the various "Deep Throats"...from Rolex
Geneva...or not.

So far may be Orchi is dead wrong...
but the available information or answers from Rolex Geneva...
do not sound logical or sensible...
for Orchi that is...

Others may think differently...n have their own mind about the Rolex Underline Dials...
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Old 27 February 2012, 12:06 AM   #9
Orchi
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Err Buddies...here are some brief news articles excerpt from The New York Times archive...

1. STRONTIUM IN SOME WATCHES; A. E. C. Seeking to Recover 600 Rolex GMT Masters -- Warns of Dan... [PDF]

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The Atomic Energy Commission said today it was trying to recover more than 600 Swiss wrist watches because several had been found to contain too much radioactive strontium 90....
December 18, 1959 - Article


The initial research done by Buddy Harris has pointed to the above article also...

To Orchi's own understanding...
At that time...
there was a concern by AEC to have ordered Rolex to recall more than 600 Rolex watches...
n these 600 watches were said to be Ref 6542 GMT Master...

Subsequently Rolex launched a massive advertising campaign to recall these Ref 6542 GMT Master watches...

Now since we know...
the 6542 GMT Masters were produced with Bakelite bezel laced...
with Strong luminous markers specifically for the aviation pilots...
we however did not know BEFORE that the luminous compound of these markers contain...Strontium-90...
which is clearly stated by the AEC at the time...in December of 1959.

"AEC was trying to recover more than 600 SWISS wrist watches because SEVERAL HAD BEEN...
FOUND TO CONTAIN TOO MUCH RADIOACTIVE...STRONTIUM-90..."


Prior to December 1959...
surely Rolex had started to use the luminous compound loaded with Strontium-90...
on their watches...

But Why was AEC trying to recall over 600 of these Ref 6542 GMT Master watches only...?
Orchi thinks now...
that the extra combination of the Strontium-90 luminous compound...
found on the numeric hour markers of Bakelite Bezel for Ref 6542 alone would have
exceeded the permissible dosage...

It is also believed that...
the Ref 6542 GMT Master Dial luminous hour markers at the time would also be containing Strontium-90...

This was perhaps the main reason why the AEC was trying to recall the Ref 6542 GMT Master watches...
sold in the USA during that time...in the late 50s.

The AEC did not have to recall the other Rolex Submariner n Explorer or other Rolex models of watches...
simply NOT because the other Rolex watch models did NOT have...
Strontium-90 luminous markers...
it is believed that the main reason would obviously be...
that at the time the other Rolex models of watches did NOT containing TOO MUCH Radioactive Strontium-90...

So now...
hopefully this would explain n support Orchi's proposition to share in O & P forum...
that indeed...in the late 1950s n early 1960s...
Rolex was indeed supplying their sport watch models...
with the Strontium-90 luminous compound applied on the hour markers of Dials...
n the hour markers of the Bezel too in the case of Ref 6542...

Despite what Orchi had published previously since 2008...
Orchi now believes the "Exclamation Point" or Dotted Dial...
under the 6 o'clock marker...
found on Rolex sport watches between 1958 until 1961 or 1962...
= Strontium-90...!!!

Most of the time...
by comparison to its predecessor of Radium luminous compound used by Rolex...
the Radium luminous markers of Rolex watches would normally have been disintegrated with appearance of heavy Patina...

On the other hand...
these Rolex sport watches having the Strontium-90 luminous compound markers...
would mostly be looking still fresh n tidy...in good shape n glowing like Christmas trees in the dark n under strong UV lights...




Here are some pictures credit to the Rolexpassionreport.com...
n those found elsewhere from the internet...

The related articles published in VRF recently...
are credit to the painstaking research of Buddy Harris...
in VRF...
















"The watch was tested and it is PERFECTLY SAFE for your use"...

However...
It does NOT mean it's is NOT Strontium-90 or Radiation FREE...(ZERO Strontium-90 or Radiation reading)





For the above explanation...
Orchi is unsure of the date of the above Rolex paper...
Maybe it was issued after 1962...
when Tritium was used instead of Strontium-90...
subsequently...
The Bakelite Bezel insert might have been relumed or replaced at that stage...
Or it could be that simply...the Bakelite insert of 6542 GMT Master...
for Japanese market...did not contain Strontium-90 luminous paint on its markers...






Again Orchi believes...the sticker says "Guaranteed RADIATION Safe"...
but it does NOT mean...the watch is RADIATION FREE...
or having ZERO Radiation reading.

So far in Orchi's novice studies...
here are the basic understanding:-

1. The Radium luminous paint would emit...<b>more harmful GAMMA energy Radiation reading...</b>
Radium luminous compound is self disintegration or degrading due to Radium decay...
(meaning the other Phosphorous elements of Zinc Sulfide crystal used would tend to be broken down to smaller particles n damaged with no glow or mild glow under UV light...by now over 50 years)
Radium luminous paint when react to moisture would turn to darkish colour or stain...

This is evident in the Radium Dial or Hands of watches found...
where the Radium luminous markers are usually stained with darker Patina...
n damaged due to the lost of Zinc Sulfide crystals...(blown to dust so to speak)

However...the Radium Dial or Hands would still be emitting high energy Radiation reading...
due to the very long half life of Radium decay...(1600 years)

2. The Tritium luminous paint would emit...least harmful n Mild or Low BETA energy Radiation reading..

However after some time...due to shorter half life span of Tritium decay...(12.5 years)...
the smaller quantity of Tritium mixture might not be enough to excite the other Phosphorous elements of Zinc Sulfide...(in regulated mixture)...
thus the luminosity of Tritium paint would degrade sooner in relatively shorter time...

This is evident that these days we see so many of Tritium luminous markers on Dials...
n hands have lost most of its luminosity...even on watches made from the 1970s...
1980s...or 1990s...

It is also very common to see many watches with Tritium markers turning to having heavy Patina...or stains...
which could be due to excessive exposure to moisture...or darkness...
(lack of Sunlight perhaps)...

3. After the provision of documentary proof...
Orchi believes now that...the Strontium-90 luminous paint...
was readily available to the SWISS watch industry...
n Sr-90 was being cheaper to Radium...

Sr90 had 3 advantages over Radium with SWISS watch industry...
It was friendly to Zinc Sulfide the main element to produce Phosphorous paint polymer...n not cause as much damage to it...as opposed to Radium.
It could be formulated to yield colours...which could be more versatile as opposed to Radium.
It was much cheaper n being a pure Beta energy emitter it was less harmless as opposed to Radium(Gamma emitter)
With almost 30 years half life property...
it was actually better performing than Tritium(12.5 years half life)...

Orchi now thinks even the last generations of Rolex Gilt Dials passed 1960s...
n the earliest Matte Dials...although marked with SWISS T<25...
could possibly have the Strontium-90 luminous paint on Dial markers n hands also...
or some other Phosphorous lume compound...instead of Tritium...(no proof yet)
n these Dials made passed 1963/64 until 1967 or so...
would still emit strong glow in dark...
or under the strong UV light...

Here are a couple of examples... :wub:




May be it is about time Orchi buys a more sophisticated Geiger counter meter...
or find a scientific laboratory...
to test the individual readings of Alpha...
Beta n GAMMA energy Radiation from Rolex watches...LOL!

Or perhaps Orchi should consider to strip off all sorts of luminous paint on Dial or Hands markers...
to submit them for scientific tests...
to see whether the luminous compounds...
are either Radium...Strontium-90 or Tritium...LOL!

Err...is there any TRF Buddies willing to donate any old n damaged Rolex Dials...
to Orchi...? LOL...!
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Old 27 February 2012, 12:19 AM   #10
Orchi
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Err Buddies...here are few more News reports dated as far back as May of 1959...
taken from various Newspaper publications within USA...
as well as from Australia...

http://news.google.com/newspapers/url?id=_...article_s&cad=0

http://news.google.com/newspapers/url?id=c...article_s&cad=0


1. Watchdial radiation peril seen - The Sydney Morning Herald - May 3, 1959.

Washington, Saturday (AAP-Reuter)
Three United States manufacturers of watches and clocks were warned by the Atomic Energy Commission last night not to distribute luminous dials containing Strontium-90, one of the most feared elements of radio-active fallout.

An AEC spokesman said that two of the companies had imported such dials and had already distributed many of them.
One company said its supplies came from Switzerland.

The AEC spokesman said watch dials containing Strontium-90 would normally be NO more hazardous than conventional radium dials.

However, they might be more hazardous in the certain circumstances if, for example, the wearer slept with his hand over his face or with his eyes near the dial.

The AEC sent warning letters to the Westclox Division of the General Time Corporation, the Bulova Watch Company, and the Elgin Watch Company.

The spokesman said that another company, the American Phosphors Corporation, had imported a quantity of Strontium-90 last November without a license from the AEC. He said the company manufactured luminous compound.

Violation

Letters to the four firms warned them they were violating Atomic Energy Act regulations by importing Strontium-90 without AEC permit.

The AEC spokesman did not identify the countries from which the offending dials were imported.

The company said it had imported the watches from Switzerland.


In a statement it announced: "The luminous dial watches sold by Elgin were laboratory-tested to ensure that the radiation level is well within safe limits."

The company had not been informed by the Swiss supplier that Strontium-90 was the luminous agent used in the imported watches.

The statement said Elgin had presumed that the luminous agent was Radium. It said the company had imported 4000 watches and had sold 1200 of these.

Bulova said in a statement that it had found no Strontium-90 in any dials in its possession or in library samples of lines handled in the past.
Of the one watch about which the AEC complained, Bulova said it was impossible to tell whether it had been treated after it left Bulova's hands.

http://news.google.com/newspapers/url?id=_...article_s&cad=0


http://news.google.com/newspapers/url?id=c...article_s&cad=0


2. Strontium-90 Used in Dials - AEC Orders Halt - The Milwaukee Journal - May 2, 1959.

Washington, D.C. - AP- Three watchmaking companies were ordered Friday by the AEC to halt distribution of any luminous dials containing Strontium-90.

Strontium-90 deadliest element of radioactive fallout, can cause bone cancer.

The AEC said...

The Bulova Watch Co. Flushing, N.Y., was cited for a single watch with Strontium-90 dial. It was trademarked Westfield, transferred to a Louisburg(N.C) jeweler and sold to someone in 1955. The AEC said.

A General Time Corp. executive said the dials and hands involved in its case were imported five or six years ago, and were used only in repairing watches. He said none of the imported parts had been used since AEC's inspection.

Elgin said..."We are cooperating fully with AEC by halting the shipment of any imported watches in which Strontium-90 was applied," the spokesman said.


In the previous postings...
Orchi had wondered n asked...
why the AEC did NOT have any issues with other brands of SWISS watches during such time... :P
when the AEC was concerned about Rolex having distributed...
more than 600 Ref 6542 GMT Masters watches which would contain too high dosage of Strontium-90...
to the American public back then... :(

(Hey from now...
some of the Buddies who own the Ref 6542 GMT Master...
made perhaps in the late 50s...
would realize by now...
why the OCC Dial...
n the Bakelite Bezel insert are giving off so much glowing...
in the darkness or under the UV lights...) :wub: :wub:


Well it is all becoming that hopefully some of the missing puzzles would be answered by...
finding more articles or materials which would perhaps pinpoint to the strong possibility
that Rolex too or perhaps the SWISS watch industry at large...
had had Strontium-90 applied in their models of sport watches...
or the Rolex tool watches especially...
in the 1950s or even until the early 1960s... :o:

Err...after reading n digesting some of the crucial information provided herein...
is anyone from O & P...beginning to believe as Orchi does...
that Rolex had in most likelihood used Strontium-90 luminous paint...
during the 1950s n even until the early 1960s...? :woot:

More to come soon...
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Old 27 February 2012, 12:22 AM   #11
Orchi
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Err Buddies...here another Newspaper report from the archive of St. Joseph Gazette... :wub:

Danger of Radiation Found in Wrist Watch - St. Joseph Gazette - Dec 18, 1959.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Owner of Rolex GMT Master wrist watches, attention:

If your watch is a special navigation model and has the name
"Oyster Perpetual" on its face, it may be radioactive and should be returned for
inspection to to the American Rolex Watch Corp.,

The AEC announced Thursday a check of several of these watches imported from
Switzerland showed enough Strontium-90
to present "a possible long term health hazard
to the wearer."

The Rolex GMT-Master is a special type of navigation watch which has a movable rim,
or bezel, around the face to permit the wearer to tell time in any two time zones of the
world at a given moment.

The Strontium-90 was found in the luminescent material on the markings and numerals
of the bezel. The New York firm imported about 600 of the watches between October, 1956, and November, 1959.

The company said the model is "one of more than 100 men's watch models marketed in the United States by our company" and added in a statement:

"It has been sold in very small quantities due to the fact that it is a special purpose model."

The company said it has instructed dealers to ship back all special model watches for checking.

The AEC said its check of the company's stock to date has not disclosed any other model of the company's watches contains Strontium-90.


https://www.google.com/url?url=http://news...cI9g8Kg&cad=rja


So now we have another Newspaper article confirming the AEC's finding in Dec 1959...
that Rolex had indeed used Strontium-90 in the Ref 6542 GMT Master watches...

The AEC is also quoted to say they did check...
Rolex's stock of other model watches at the time...
contains Strontium-90...
(Perhaps without disclosure which might be due to the other models of watches had Strontium-90 in lower n permissible dosage at the time)

Now it should be much simple to understand from the above Newspaper report...
n there should be NO further doubts from Orchi's own understanding...
that Rolex had indeed n in fact...
used Strontium-90 in their models of watches sold during that period of time...
in the 1950s... :P :D

Here's an example of Ref 6542 GMT Master watch with very active Luminous markers...
that Orchi believes to be Strontium-90...
The other markers on its Dial n Hands...seem to be dead or emitting only very mild glow in the dark...

Now some may ask...how come the Dial n markers have no glow?
Well...for Orchi...there is NOT one supplier of Rolex could make the Dial n Hands...
together with making the Bakelite bezel for supply to Rolex back then...

Logically the Dial was made by the Dial maker...
Hands by the hands maker...
n the Bakelite was made by another contractor of Rolex...back then.

So on this watch...perhaps the Dial n Hands markers were made separately had Radium...
instead of Strontium-90...
It is not too hard to understand that possibility...at the time.


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Old 27 February 2012, 12:34 AM   #12
Orchi
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Err Buddies...recently in the previous posting...
Orchi asked whether Panerai had indeed got the Patent for their Luminor watches...
using Tritium luminous paint on the Luminor Dial...in 1951...?

As Orchi does not own any vintage Panerai watches...
n with zero clues whatsoever about the Vintage Panerai watches...
there seems to be no answer found yet...
until Orchi stumbled upon this article published in Panerai.com website...
regarding the timeline of Panerai history...


http://www.panerai.com/s_storia.xpd?mode=r...em=53&anno=1860


1949:

The patent is granted for Luminor, the luminous substance based on tritium,
which replaced the previous Radiomir mix developed between 1910 and 1915.
The Radiomir and Luminor watches take their names from these two luminous substances.



Now after having read the above article published in Panerai.com...
Orchi is deeply puzzled...
n dying to know from where...
or how Panerai could have obtained...
the Tritium luminous paint...since as early as the year 1949...
for the Patented Panerai Luminor watches...?


Subsequently...Orchi reads from...err...the Internet...
that although the discovery of Tritium or 3H was credited to Lord Rutherford...
n his team of renown scientists...back in early 1930s...
the discovery of Tritium 3H was accomplished in the research laboratories...
at the UK Cambridge Laboratory as well as University of California...Berkeley USA.

It was only around in the Middle of 1950s...
that the Tritium 3H was obtained in substantial quantities...
from nuclear reactors of the USA...
or its subsequent disarmament of Hydrogen-Bombs...
or from US Nuclear warheads program...

In June 30 1960...
The US Atomic Energy Commission or AEC was reported to have approved...
Tritium be used for commercial usage making luminous paint for watch industry...


New York Times - Jul 1, 1960
WASHINGTON, June '30 (UPI)-The Atomic Energy Commission said today it planned to permit the use of radio-active tritium in luminous watches and clocks.
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Old 27 February 2012, 02:02 AM   #13
Transcon
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Thank you so much for passing along all your knowledge Orchi. I've learned so much just reading your posts, keep up the good work

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Old 27 February 2012, 08:38 AM   #14
pitpro
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thanks orchi

I think you just set the record for the longest post!!
Chemical and Radiological (beta gamma etc) testing of some old crappy dials that are destined for relume would sure be enlightening to this discussion.
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Old 27 February 2012, 03:04 PM   #15
Orchi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pitpro View Post
I think you just set the record for the longest post!!
Chemical and Radiological (beta gamma etc) testing of some old crappy dials that are destined for relume would sure be enlightening to this discussion.
Err Buddy John...you have made it here finally...
Welcome to TRF...!!!

It is great to have you onboard TRF...
by far the friendliest Vintage Rolex forum...

Back to luminosity of watches...
Perhaps better for Orchi to obtain 2 units of Radiation Detectors...
one for GAMMA radiation which has a short wavelength...or Radium detector.
n another one for detecting BETA radiation...that has longer wavelength...
(expecting stronger reading perhaps from Strontium-90...
n a weaker reading perhaps from Tritium or Promethium-147...
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Old 28 February 2012, 01:55 AM   #16
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Err Buddies...in the interest of studying the luminosity of watches...
Orchi now understands there are basically 3 types of luminous paint or compound or polymer used...
on the Dial...Hands or Bezel markers...
of a watch...

In here Orchi shall try to explain it briefly n as simply as possible...

1. Fluorescence - This type requires a light or UV source to glow or illuminate...
Fluorescent paint or material does not glow on its own...
As soon as the light or UV source is taken away from it...
it stops to glow immediately...
(This is due to very short decay property of the Fluorescent pigment or dye used)

The most common Fluorescent feature used would be on currency notes...
as an added security feature...



2. Phosphorescence - or "Glow in the Dark" paint...
This type requires a light or UV source to glow or illuminate similar to the above Fluorescent paint...
It does not glow on its own...

But unlike the former...Phosphorescent paint would retain its luminosity for a longer like in minutes or hours...
after being charged by the light source depending on the intensity...
(This is due to the longer decay property of the Phosphors used...
such as Zinc Sulfide or Strontium Aluminate)

The most commonly Phosphorescent luminous compound used on...
the modern watches such as this Rolex Seadweller...
would be the Luminova or Superluminova Phosphorescence...
which primarily contain Strontium Aluminate...or Strontium Oxide Aluminate.




3. Radioluminescence - Unlike the above Fluorescent n Phosphorescent paint...
Radioluminescence paint or compound is self-luminous n glow on its own...
in the daylight or darkness...without requiring any light or UV source...
(This is caused by radioactive substance used in the mixture...
together with Phosphors such as the Zinc Sulfide)

Zinc Sulfide discovered since 1866...
on its own as Phosphor...is in itself a Phosphorescent material.
It would glow in the dark after being charged by light or UV source...

Zinc Sulfide as any other variety of Phosphors would have a decay half life property...
or a life span of its effectiveness could be 10 years or slightly more...

For the interest of Vintage Rolex watch collection hobbyists...
Orchi shall attempt to explain more about this type of Radioluminescent paint or compound applied on the watches for the luminosity of Vintage Rolex watches...

Throughout the history on the usage of Radioluminescent paint or compound perhaps by Rolex...
the following variants of radioactive substance are commonly known...
to have been formulated with the Zinc Sulfide(as Phosphor).

A. Radium-226
B. Strontium-90
C. Promethium-147
D. Tritium

Orchi shall now try to explain a little bit from a novice's perspective...
about the Radium radioluminescent paint...


A: RADIUM-226 Radioluminescent paint:-


By the early years of 1900s...Radium luminescent paint was invented...
It was since widely used on the luminosity of clocks n wristwatches...
even after it was known to be toxic...until the early 1960s...

There has been no release of official record yet...
as to when Rolex had ceased to use...the Radium luminous paint...
although would be plausible that Rolex had used it from the start of Rolex establishment...

All isotopes of Radium are highly radioactive...
the Radium-226 isotope is most stable...with a half life of 1600 years...
decaying into Radon gas...

Although Radium-226 has a long half-life...
n the radioactive decay of which would be long...
in the mixture with Zinc Sulfide phosphor...
used as the radioluminescent paint...
the effectiveness of luminosity could be around 10 years...
or slightly more...

This is because in the decaying process of Radium-226...
much of the Zinc Sulfide crystals in the paint mixture...
would have been broken down...degraded or disintegrated relatively quicker...
by the damaging reaction with the Radon gas...
causing the luminosity of the paint to dwindle n lost sooner...
than earlier expected...

Simply put...
this is akin to like a torch light having a battery(Radium-226)
which might last forever...
BUT eventually the light bulb is fused...or faulty.

Thus what happened then within say 20 to 40 years or so...
would be that the markers on watch dial...
hands or bezel would eventually lose...ALL its "Self Glowing" luminosity.

The lost of luminosity of the Radium paint...
might even be sooner depending if the Dial...hands or bezel...
were exposed to extreme usage environments...

From Orchi's own observations of a few Vintage Rolex watches(Ref 6542 GMT Master with Bakelite bezel excluded)...
n an old Angelus chronograph watch...which were produced within the Circa of 1940s to 1950s...
that would be fitted with Radium Luminescent Dials n Hands...
the luminous markers are no longer seen to glow on its own in pitch darkness...
(observation was done after the watches were kept in the dark for awhile)

After charging these Dials n Hands for awhile with bright light source...
some of the markers would emit a very faint n mild greenish/whitish glow for a short moment...
when the bright light source is switched off...
The faint n mild glow would eventually fades off within say 10 to 20 seconds...

Subsequently...
after wearing n exposing a couple of these Radium luminescent watches for few hours...
out during fieldwork under the Sunny day...
n recharging them again for awhile with bright incandescent light source at home...
n switching the light off for observation of the luminous markers...
they would be seen to emit a noticeable glow for a short while...
n fading off within say up to 30 seconds to a minute or so...

Eventually the similar glowing pattern of the luminous markers as above...
could be observed after the watch was worn for a while during the day under the Sun...
n having it charged up later under a strong UV light source...
Similarly when the UV light source is removed...
the noticeable glow on the markers would gradually fades off within say a minute or so...

Nevertheless...all of Orchi's own understandings n explanation up til now...
about the subjects of Radium luminescent paint or the LUMINOSITY of watches...
are purely from own novice observation n experience only...

All the above does not equate to the absoluteness...
or represent whatever...or how the other Vintage Rolex watches...
which might contain the Radium luminescent paint on Dials or Hands or Bezel...
could be observed by the other respective parties...

More about the subject of Strontium-90 Luminescent Paint...hopefully soon to be continued...
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Old 20 December 2012, 01:55 AM   #17
exroll
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Hi,

this is a very interesting topic and I would like to know where to find the text regarding 1964 regulation of dial marking with T (somewhere in the post was: "Apart from adhering to 1964 regulations to mark their dials with T..."). That would be very helpful.

Thanks.
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