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Carrying on the Exclamation dot tax regime debate so not lost in earlier posting

February 15 2012 at 5:15 AM
fatboyharris  (Login fatboyharris)
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That Raises More Questions..

February 14 2012 at 6:33 PM

MC Yoon (Login munchiew)
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Response to Could well be


John, for example;

1] Why mark those watches with a lume dot? Surely there is an easier way? Like and additional letter/numeral on the reference number? Or a tiny stamp on the underside of a lug? I remember Jacek had one watch for sale that was so marked.

2] Why did these markings appear for only a short period, say 59 to 63, and then disappear, just as T Swiss T and "Swiss T appeared?

3] What was the tax regime at that time that will explain this as a import tax mark? This will be easily verified by asking the proper tax consultants or the Inland Revenue Department. I was a tax consultant in my previous job life, and we had comprehensive records of all legislation from the day tax was legislated. No information/archival gap here.

4] I would suggest that many other countries had different import tax regimes ( all countries have their own; in fact find me two countries that haave exactly the same regime), but why was there no special markings for the watches for those countries? For example, some Rolexes imported into the US at one time had lower jewels count in their movements, to circumvent higher taxes, but were these watches marked on their dials?

Not trying to give anyboday a hard time, but I feel these are legitimate questions arising from the new import tax hypothesis.



My response


Well the tax regime was interesting

February 15 2012 at 5:21 AM

fatboyharris (Login fatboyharris)
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Response to That Raises More Questions..

From 1960 there was a series of World trade conventions, in which the Common Market and European Free Trade had not been previous included, and as these bodies reduced import duties between member states it was seen as unfair to the rest of the world and especially the USA.

Personal Imports into the USA to avoid duties had become a major problem and revenue loss, so much so they eventually introduced an ancient european custom called the Dane law, which meant you could only bring in duty free literally what you could carry.

In the US import duties to protect domestic industry were 4 times greater than those levied by most of the world on imported watches. From 1960 onwards but intensifying from 63 onwards over 4000 commodities and their respective duties were individually agreed, in the main the Common Market took on the USA in the negotiations. In 1964 the US lost the justification for the excessive duties on imported watches but it wasn't till 1967 they reduced them, to still twice the norm in the ROW.

So what has this to do with dial markings and taxation/market

May I use a slightly different analogy to illustrate how change may be denoted but not made visible outside the trade in question. In the UK prior to the introduction of VAT in 1973 we had Purchase Tax (PT) the rates varied enormously overtime and some rates were effective for very short periods of time, in some instances only for a few months. So to denote the tax paid the record labels ie background and lettering had different colour schemes to denote tax rate paid. This enable shopkeepers who had returned unsold records to the record company eg EMI to be credited back the correct PT amount originally paid on that specific returned record

This was a very prescriptive practice, as it fixed the colour of the label background and text to the PT rate in force at the time in a very competitive 'artistic and creative' industry, all bands had to have the same background colour and lettering etc according to what PT rate was in force at that time.

The only reason for this practice was to differentiate between the PT rate paid on records returned to the EMI etc for correct rebate of PT paid. It seems very extreme, when a simple code eg A=10%, B = 15% PT could have been printed on the label, but it does at a glance make it very visible to people in the industry but leaves the general public possibly absolutely none the wiser.

It just seems so co-incidental in a period of extreme change in the use of dial paint materials, work place restrictions and trade disharmony and trade protectionism that for a very short time frame, very visible dial markings are introduced and just as quickly disappear.

I dont have the answer but do believe there is some correlation with the introduction of those dial markings and major change or market segmentation. I am also not convinced that there is a straight forward transition from radium to tritium, I believe there may have been a spell when strontium 90 may have been in use. Achim made a very astute observation over the 6542 GMT that started this recent debate off, the lumi did not look like aged radium or aged tritium.

By way of background, Switzerland had its own source of strontium 90, by mid 1950's the tradition market in medicine was drying up and a major shipment of strontium 90 was returned to Switzerland I believe in 1957, so what are the Swiss going to do with this stuff and get rid of it.....what Swiss manufacturing industry needs a luminescent material.

Strontium had three major advantages over radium: a greater variety of luminescent colors were possible with strontium than radium, the gradual decrease in luminous intensity was minimal because strontium's beta particles did less damage to the zinc sulfide crystals that radium's alpha particles, and the photon (bremsstrahlung) emissions from strontium were less of a safety concern than the gamma rays from radium.

With regards to the introduction of tritium, these documents are very telling,
Kodak Eastman 1957 letter and AEC response- standards already set by 1957.

In essence, apply for licence for the paint an get it from US Radium, so back in 57, you could get tritium paint under licence.

Post Jan 1961 when AEC released trtium for use with dials just meant you nolonger needed specific licences for tritium, you just applied for an exemption from licensing for holding and distribution to the general public in the USA the exemption licence lasting 2 to 3 years subject to the maximum tritium limit T25.

So tritium may have been used prior to January 1961, difference being you had to get a specific licence. The development and patenting of Tritiated paint may set the earliest starting point from which to focus potential tritium paint usage dates. So Tritium could be sourced pre 1961 but on an individual licence basis.

However, Merz and Benteli the lumi appliers to Rolex dials and hands, with the exception of the AEC inpection 65 report in particular and the 68 AEC Rolex supporting papers there is absolutely no other reference to M&B in all the databases I've searched to-date. I would have expected them to have applied for the tritium paint licences pre 61 as they were using the stuff at some point in time, but they didn't have a US Office until after 1968 with the formation of MB Microtec, so may not have been eligible to be licenced by AEC prior to that and theres no reference to Rolex Ive found to date applying for any pre 61 licences.....hmmmmm its a bugger, so to speak.

We also know from an AEC inspection in August 1961 of the US Radium subsidiary Safety Light under licence 37-30-6 that the application of tritiated paint had not been undertaken as yet at that plant to watch dials or hands.

AEC licence for US Radium tritiated paint approved April 21 1961

Just an interesting observation
It appears that when zinc sulfide is used in the lumi binding material it has 2 effects as it decays

1. It discolours the lumi
2. drastically reduces the luminescence life, so much so for Strontium 90 the half life is 2.5 years.

Didn't someone once remark or observe that late 50's watches lumi had lost all its luminescence compare with slightly later do we have strontium 90 use........till the USA bezel scare!

So should we also be looking not only at the exclamation mark, the underline, the changes in the colour of the 'Swiss' mark on the dial but also the colour, composition and luminescence of the lumi from the late 50's onwards...........and ask yourself why were some tests done on dials at that time?

Hope it helps.......................probably not, but doesnt pay to look at one thing in isolation to another, but conversely all these matters may be totally independent of each other.

 When do we start to see the introdution of matt dials ..................what do they signify if anything? Interesting times..........was it about the time the US duties start to tumble and why do they switch from metres to feet first very quickly afterwards, interestingly after the US excessive import duites were halfed.

 Feet is an Imperial measure on the wane but still used in USA, metric measures was the rising star, maybe growing market opportunity in the US caused the switch following import duties reduction.  Another interesting thought when did Rolex introduce the Trade Mark/Patent restriction on watches coming into the USA and how would you know a USA sold watches?

Who knows for certain..





This message has been edited by fatboyharris from IP address on Feb 15, 2012 7:22 AM

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