The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date was a technical sensation when it was first introduced in 1956. No watch in front of her showed the day of the week in addition to the date in a window on the dial.
More than any other model, the Rolex Day-Date has become a status watch nicknamed”President”. Of course, its performance features have been the basis of its growing fame from the very beginning. After all, the innovative calendar functions of the Day-Date were also well protected by the robust and waterproof Oyster case. In addition, however, there was certainly the limitation to gold and platinum versions (although in the meantime there were also stainless steel models) and the presidential band developed especially for the day-date.
Why”President”? Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson… were confessing bearers of the day-date. In 2005 a model was auctioned for $120,000 with the following engraving: “Jack / With love as always / Marilyn / May 29th 1962”. Probably a gift from Marilyn Monroe to JFK. Which was apparently not entirely unproblematic… and so President Kennedy is said to have passed the watch to an employee. But only in passing.
In Rolex-typical manner, the watch has remained true to its basic idea, despite all maturation and further development over time. And so their appearance is still shaped today by the advertised weekday ad at twelve o’clock.
Driven by the caliber 1030, the first day-date, the reference 6511, had to register however still clear losses of the rate values in connection with the date function. But already in its second year it received a new movement, the caliber 1055, the switching mechanism of the date and day display was now significantly improved and for the first time the Microstella screws were used, which are still used today for fine adjustment of the unrest. In connection with this new precision, Rolex also introduced the”Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” lettering.
However, the model has also experienced breakouts from the usual terrain, both technically and in design. In 1978, Rolex introduced its own Oyster quartz movement, which was not withheld from the Day Date either.
Popular Vintage Models
The offer of used Day-Date models is naturally large, for example the online portal Chrono24 currently offers more than 4,000. The price range is enormous and ranges from approx. 4,000 to well over 100,000 euros, with the upper price end almost exclusively occupied by special models with gem-setting. The cheapest offers are usually older models of leather straps, especially the reference 1803.
This third version of the Day-Date was introduced by Rolex around 1958, whereupon it was produced for about 20 years, until the reference came in 1978 in 18038. The Day-Date not only brought the sapphire crystal, which replaced the previously installed plastic glass, but also the quick-date circuit, which has been used in all Rolex watches ever since. Especially important with older models is of course their condition, especially since the relatively soft material of the solid gold variants has almost always left feathers over time. Whether through regular wearing or polishing and grinding processes, the cases and straps of older watches have often lost their contours and thus also their valuable material. Particularly sought-after vintage models are, of course, unusual special models, such as the Reference 1803 with red coral dial, or the burl wood dial from the 80s, which must have felt at home in the interior of a Rolls-Royce with its burl wood applications…
The case size of the Day-Date remained unchanged for a long time with a diameter of 36 millimeters. Only in 2008 did Rolex follow the growing interest in larger watches and presented the Day-Date 2, in a 41 mm case.
This was followed, officially presented at Baselworld 2015, by the Day-Date 40, which was now also equipped with the new automatic caliber 3255, which with many new components now had an even better efficiency and a significantly increased power reserve.
With the introduction of the Day-Date 40, in yellow, white, everose gold and platinum, the discontinuation of the Day-Date 2 model, which is no longer in the program, was initiated. The yellow gold version of the Day-Date 40 cost 30,200 euros when it was launched in 2015. The comparable model currently stands at 32,200 euros.
The last innovation took place in 2016, in the form of a green dial with Roman numerals. The selection of dial variants for the model is now very extensive, especially the Day-Date 36 offers almost endless combination possibilities.
In this video you can see the new models at their presentation at Baselworld 2015:
Continuously updated article, originally put online in September 2017.