The 70’s are back in full effect.

If you are following the vintage Rolex market (which I assume you do if you’re reading this) you must have noticed the resurgence of the Rolex GMT-Masters and Submarines with nipple dials. These had for a long time been one of the few slow moving vintage Rolexes that you still could pick up for a reasonably low price. Well – not anymore.

During the most recent auctions, these naughty Rolexes has been braking estimates both left and right. Phillips just sold a gold 1675 for almost twice it’s estimate during the Geneva auctions this spring.

By the way, if you still don’t know what the heck “nipple dials” are, please allow me to explain: Whereas the normal GMT-Master and Submariner has hour markers that are either only consisting of applied lume or lume applied within thin rings of white gold, the nipple dial indices are thick gold circles with a tiny bit of lume placed in the middle of them. Thus the name. Got it? Yeah…

nipple dial

For hippies only?

Now, why the fascination for these obscure dials with the “freely spoken” name? There is no hiding that GMT-Masters in general has seen a quite steep increase in value the last few years. And the nipple dials being combined with the metal combinations that was not so desirable, they have been lagging behind until now. So for a long time, these represented some decent value. However, as the 70’s has come back into fashion, gold and bi-metal has also become cooler. And since the nipple dials are connected with the two former, that has increased their attractiveness in today’s market. So there you have it.

The nipple dials are often combined with the brown, blue and black color choices when it comes to the dial itself. The majority are GMT-Masters. And in fact, the first Rolex that featured one of these dials was such a model, the reference 6542. This was as early as in the 1950’s. But it is still something we might mostly think about when discussing the hippie 70’s. I wonder why…

Some of my personal favourite references with nipple dials are the 1675 “Root Beer” GMT-Master and the steel/gold 1680 Submariner. They both give off a “old-car-salesman” vibe – in a good way. Subsequently they are best paired with a hairy tan chest, gold aviators, a way too unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt and relaxed white linen pants. The above mentioned are cool enough, although the holy grail must be a 1680 Sub from the late 70’s – in full 18k gold featuring a purple sunburst dial. Then we are talking some serious awesomeness. Oh my. Nipple dials are indeed cool again.

Do you like vintage watches?
Try reading our other stories about Gilt Dials and The Secrets to Collecting Vintage Watches.

A big thank you to Phillips Watch Department for letting us use their pictures in this post.
PS: all watches are sold.