Depending on who you ask (or read), there’s a good chance you might walk away with a handful of stories behind the origins of the “California” dial. This writer humbly admits to not knowing the truth. Some attribute the widespread knowledge to a California-based company that refurbished a large number of Rolex Bubblebacks in the ’80s with the dial (the dial’s origins actually date back to the 1930s). Others may point to a company, also in California, who created dials with both Arabic and Roman numerals as a demonstration of the differences, later capturing the dollars of a buyer who wanted his watch made with the dial. And others, even claim the dials were simply used as cover-plates when Rolex shipped movements to other manufacturers.
The stories may be the stuff of legend, but a recent resurgence in its popularity, which has nothing to do with another Italian California special, makes an undebatable statement in the Panerai Radiomir California 3 Days.