How to spot a fake Patrizzi dial

Written by:Claudio F.|

Today, we’ll teach you a simple, quick and effective trick to help you immediately spot a “fake” Patrizzi dial. When you’re looking at one, you can be sure that you are before a truly unique piece, as no two dials are the same…. But what if it wasn’t authentic?

Before we begin: what is a Patrizzi?

A Rolex Daytona “Patrizzi” dial is one whose chronograph subdials have gone from white to beige (and in more extreme cases, brown), because of a production and manufacturing defect.
This defect rose from Rolex’s use of an organic transparent varnish (“Zappon”) to protect the dial.

It is thought that the error lies both in the material and its poor application, exposing this dials to a natural oxidisation.

On which references is this phenomenon found?

Any Ref.16520 could be subject to this oxidation, but it’s far more prevalent in exemplars whose serial numbers contain W, S and T (and sometimes, but rarely, U). The serial number is of fundamental importance, because it has to match up with the year of production, too, as Patrizzi dials were made during a certain time.

Unfortunately, some dealers try to inflate the price of their timepiece by substituting regular dials with these much more sought-after ones, so be very careful!

4 legitimate examples sold by Christie’s

How can I identify a real Patrizzi?

Natural oxidisation have vastly different effects to forced oxidisation, and herein lies the key to spotting an authentic Patrizzi. Any Rolex Daytona which displays this artificial oxidisation is, for all intents and purposes, A FAKE. The watch itself (case, bracelet, movement, etc.) may very well be genuine, but if the dial has undergone deliberate modifications and is marketed as a Patrizzi, it loses all credibility.
So don’t buy into the hype so easily, and make sure you stick to these following rules:


On an authentic Patrizzi dial, the chronograph subdials will display a beige or brown-ish hue, with a few spots here and there, giving a “sandy” effect. Each one is different to one another (given the organic nature of the process), making it virtually impossible for two dials to be alike.

Each of these three subdials sport a white gold ring which outlines both the internal and external circumferences. If you’re on the hunt for a Patrizzi dial – or any Daytona for that matter – these white gold rings must always be intact and NON-oxidised. We’ll explain why, and more in the next part.


On fake Patrizzi dials, the white gold rings that encircle the chronograph registers will be yellowed or blackened: this is because they’ve been manipulated – most commonly by sticking it in an oven… yeah, we know.

Consequentially, putting it in an oven will give rise to another small detail to look for: if you notice a strange patina or bubbles on the dial (not the chronograph subdials, but the actual dial itself), chances are, you’re looking at a deliberately modified one.

In summary…

Go ahead and screenshot the following checklist so you can consult it if ever you come across a peculiar-looking Daytona.

An authentic Patrizzi:

  • belongs to the ref. 16520
  • has a “W”, “S”, “T” and sometimes a “U” serial code
  • has browned registers (often displaying a “sandy” effect)
  • these registers’ rings are in NON-oxidised white gold

One last thing, perhaps the most important:

As part of the routine servicing, Rolex, like most brands, will substitute a defective dial (which is exactly the case for Patrizzi dials). They’ll replace them with an original Rolex dial, but beware, as they are not period-correct, nor will they have undergone the famous “defective” manufacturing technique. This is a standard practice for Rolex so that they always have a stock of original parts to hand, irrespective of the year of production.

How to stop this from happening? Make sure you add a note or specifically request that your dial is not replaced.

-Translated by Patrick R.


Claudio F.
Junior Social Media Manager
Est. 1997. He is a business and management student at the Bocconi University. Passionated, better... obsessed, by watches, vintage cars, and beauty in all its shapes. There is no compromises on that.

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