It seems most logical to structure this section so that the chart itself is accessible with a minimum number of clicks in order that returning browsers can refer back to it in the most direct fashion.
To give a little bit of background detail, the original Rolex case back signature was “W & D”.
If we want to be deliberately pedantic, this isn’t technically a Rolex stamp because the Rolex trade name hadn’t even been conceived at the time of its first use.
However, it is the first form of case back marking used by the company that would go on to become Rolex, hence it makes a logical point at which to begin this research.
One of the things that are so rewarding about this website is the ability to compile data over a long time period and present it in a way that has so far not being available to collectors, either in book form or online.
Online auctions were fine as a vehicle for purely selling watches, but their transient nature, with items being live for only seven or ten days and then gradually disappearing from view altogether, meant that these weren’t the ideal medium for permanently displaying a lot of researched material.
As time allows and indeed, as new watches are sourced for stock, we will photograph their case back markings and add them to the table here.
I say "readable" and I hope that you will find it so but I must warn you that by the nature of Aaron Dennison and his various business involvements, some of you may find this topic somewhat tortuous - I hope that you stick with it though, because the Dennison name still ranks pretty high in any decent account of nineteenth and twentieth century watches and their history, even if he fails to reach "hero" status.Later, the mention of patents by number and individual country would be dropped but even so, Rolex gradually evolved its case back stamps and it should be possible to pick out some sort of trends.In the early 1950s, a system of date stamping was introduced for Oyster cases, with the quarter of the year in which the watch was produced indicated by a Roman numeral, after which the last two digits of the year were given in Arabic numerals.To put it a more informatively, Aaron made pocket money as a child by carrying a builder's hod, working as a herdsman and as a clerk, and then even chopping wood; subsequently, he did work for his father in the cobbler's shop and before he was 18, he was already thinking in a business-like manner, suggesting that his father should make shoes in batches rather than one by one.In 1830, at the age of 18, Aaron Dennison was apprenticed in Brunswick, Maine - where his family now lived - to clockmaker, gunsmith and gold/silversmith, James Cary.Here, it should be possible to identify a subject and create a pool of knowledge relating to it, forming a lasting record that enthusiasts can keep returning back to whenever they wish.The stamps to be found inside Rolex case backs have always fascinated collectors, not least because there is a definable progression to them, but also because of the number of inconsistencies and overlapping stamps in circulation that shouldn’t theoretically exist.So, for instance, II.53 would tell us that the watch was manufactured in the second quarter of 1953.Again, hopefully the process of recording case back stamps in this way should allow us to spot any other variations that exist from this period.In other words, if we have a watch in front of us that is without a UK hallmark and doesn’t have its original sales paperwork from new, because its exact date can never be pinpointed without a margin for error, even if we feel that we can gauge its age very precisely from its specification and serial number, we will not include its case back markings in this chart.By being extremely strict in the criteria required to gain inclusion, we should hopefully produce the definitive visual guide to vintage Rolex case back stamps from the pre-World War I era right through to the 1980s.