Introduction to Rolex Day-Date
The Rolex Day-Date is the brand’s most prestigious model and an absolute icon in luxury watches. Featuring a pair of calendar windows on the dial and almost always fitted with the famed President bracelet, the Day-Date has been a mainstay in Rolex’s lineup for well over six decades.
The Day-Date is commonly referred to as the Rolex President—not just because of its bracelet but also because it has been a favorite timepiece among the world’s most powerful people, including a handful of American Presidents. Thanks to its classic design and enduring prestige, pre-owned Rolex Day-Date President watches are popular in the secondary market, often available at considerably discounted prices.
Rolex Day-Date History
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date made its debut in 1956 as the world’s first wristwatch to include a window on the dial with the day of week written out in full. As the name of the watch suggests, along with the day indicator, there’s also a date display at 3 o’clock. To accompany the new Day-Date watch model, Rolex also designed a new bracelet called the President. The Rolex President bracelet features semi-circular links in a three-piece configuration. Like the Day-Date watch, it is only manufactured in gold or platinum.
When Lyndon B. Johnson served as the 36th President of the United States, he was often seen wearing a yellow gold Rolex Day-Date. In a brilliant marketing move, Rolex launched an ad campaign for the Day-Date in the mid-1960s with the tag line “The Presidents’ watch,” next to an image of a hand holding a red phone with a yellow gold Day-Date around the wrist. Since then, the Day-Date forever became known as the Rolex President watch.
Over the last six decades, Rolex has continuously developed the Day-Date watch with improvements in materials and mechanics. Furthermore, the collection has included several iterations such as battery-powered Oysterquartz versions and models with cases larger than the traditional 36mm Day-Date.
Today, Rolex’s current collection offers only Day-Date models powered by the new-gen Caliber 3255 automatic movement with 36mm or 40mm cases and President bracelets. However, there are plenty of used Rolex Day-Date models for sale in the pre-owned market with different movements, sizes, and bands.
- 1956 – Day-Date debuts with new President bracelet
- 1959 – Day-Date ref. 18xx
- 1966 – Rolex launches “The Presidents’ watch.” ad campaign
- 1977 – Day-Date ref. 180xx with quickset date
- 1977 – Oysterquartz Day-Date with in-house quartz movement
- 1988 – Day-Date 182xx with double quickset
- 2000 – Day-Date ref. 118xxx
- 2000 – Day-Date Masterpiece with 39mm case and Pearlmaster bracelet
- 2008 – Day-Date II with bigger 41mm case
- 2015 – Day-Date 40 with 40mm case and new-gen movement
- 2019 – Day-Date 36 ref. 128xxx with new-gen movement
Day-Date Design, Features and Maintenance
The main features of the Day-Date include:
- A round Oyster case in gold or platinum
- A screw-down winding crown without crown guards
- A window at 12 o’clock on the dial to indicate the day
- A window at 3 o’clock on the dial to indicate the date magnified by a Cyclops lens
The most classic versions of the Day-Date watch are yellow gold models with 36mm cases, fluted bezels, President bracelets, champagne colored dials and automatic movements. This archetype can be found throughout the history of the collection, from the vintage Rolex Day-Date 1803 to the current Day-Date ref. 128238.
However, there have been plenty of Rolex Day-Date President variations over the years including:
- 39mm (discontinued)
- 41mm (discontinued)
- Yellow gold
- White Gold
- Pink Gold (Discontinued)
- Everose gold
- A mix of three gold shades called Tridor (discontinued)
- Bark (discontinued)
- Pyramid (discontinued)
- Pearlmaster (discontinued for the DD)
- Oyster (discontinued for the DD)
- Leather (discontinued for the DD)
- Quartz (discontinued)
Despite being traditionally labeled as men’s Rolex Day-Date watches, plenty of women enjoy wearing these topnotch timepieces too—particularly in 36mm sizes.
The proper care and maintenance of a Day-Date President is largely dependent on its age. Modern versions are water-resistant to 100 meters. According to Rolex, they should be serviced at least once every ten years. However, older used Day-Date watches may no longer be water-resistant and may require more frequent maintenance.