Originally introduced in 1956, the Rolex Day-Date was the last flagship model Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf created, and it is considered to be his ultimate achievement. Also known as the “President’s watch,” the Day-Date has a rich heritage of being worn by presidents, CEOs, visionaries and important leaders around the world. Some might call it the ultimate symbol of prestige, achievement, and success.
In 1945, Rolex revolutionized calendar legibility with its Datejust, the first wristwatch chronometer to indicate the date in a window at 3 o’clock. The Cyclops lens, invented by Rolex, would be added in 1953 to further facilitate reading of the date. In 1956, with the Day-Date, Wilsdorf perfected the modern calendar by adding the day of the week, spelled out in full, in a window at 12 o’clock on the dial.
For the first time on a wristwatch, the day was shown in full, alongside the date – a considerable advantage in terms of legibility.
(Interesting fact: The Day-Date’s calendar is available in a choice of 26 languages, from European languages to Chinese and Arabic and including, for example, Hebrew, Rusian, Greek, Japanese, Indonesian, Scandinavian languages, and even Latin.)
By displaying the day and date in dedicated apertures, reading of the calendar is made easier. And thanks to a Rolex-patented mechanism, the date disks move forward to the next day, instantaneously (in a few milliseconds) at midnight. This function, when launched, was called a “miracle at midnight.”
Available exclusively in gold or platinum, the Day-Date was previously available only in a 36-mm-diameter case. Now, as the name suggests, it’s available in a modern 40-mm-diameter case, which will sit alongside the existing 36-mm version.
Notably, the platinum version has a smooth fixed bezel, whereas the three gold versions (Everose, yellow and white gold) have fluted bezels. All models have fully polished cases and feature the Twinlock screwed-down (Rolex fluted) caseback and Twinlock double-sealed crown, good for water-resistance down to 100 meters.
Protecting the dial is a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with a cyclops lens over the date, and a double anti-reflective coating.
All Rolex Day-Date 40 models feature the words “Oyster Perpetual,” “Day-Date,” and “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” written on the dial. With the exception of the yellow-gold model, each of the Day-Date variations have distinctive laser etched motifs on top of a sunray-finished dial. The platinum version has an “ice blue” dial with a diagonal motif on a sunray finish; the rose-gold has a “sundust” dial with stripe motif on sunray finish; the white-gold has a silver dial with a quadrant motif on sunray finish; and the yellow-gold features a champagne-colored sunray finish.
The white and yellow-gold versions of the Day-Date have new faceted and deconstructed Roman numeral hours markers, with individually hand-positioned elements, mixed with indexes. In contrast, the rose-gold and platinum models have indexes only.
The term “Superlative Chronometer” was introduced by Rolex in the late 1950s to describe the precision of its chronometers, which were above and beyond standard chronometers at the time, hence the name “superlative.” In 1956, the Rolex Day-Date was one of the first models to satisfy the requirements and to carry the name “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” on the dial. Official chronometer testing certificates with the citation disappeared in 1973 with the creation of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), a consolidation of the various Official Watch Rating Centers, which established new, stricter criteria.
Fast forward to 2015, and Rolex has redefined the term “Superlative Chronometer ” with the caliber 3255, its newest-generation mechanical movement that equips the new Day-Date. According to the manufacturer, “Rolex has established a level of chronometric precision that surpasses the level defined by COSC criteria. The new Day-Date’s precision on the wrist satisfies criteria twice as exacting as those for an officially certified chronometer, reconnecting with the brand’s heritage and restoring full weight to the notion of Superlative Chronometer.”
Setting the path for the next generation of Rolex movements, Caliber 3255 raises the bar very high. As a result of Rolex’s intensive research and design over the course of its history, the Day-Date movement utilizes technology that is the subject of 14 patents. Beating at a rate of 4Hz (28,800 vph), this 31 jewel, bi-directional self-winding movement does not use a higher rate to increase chronometric precision. Instead, as it has always done, Rolex has used innovations to improve chronometry. From the paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, to the state-of-the-art Chronergy escapement with Paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus pallet fork and escape wheel, to the large balance wheel with variable inertia weights, to the high-performance Parallax shock absorbers and the traversing balance bridge, Caliber 3255 is a tour de force of technology that aims to maintain and even exceed the precision and robustness for which Rolex is famous.
The new movement is not only more accurate; it is also more efficient, resulting in an impressive 70-hour power reserve. Not to mention it is more reliable, which highlights another relevant Rolex announcement. Rolex is not just saying, “our watches are more reliable;” the brand is standing by that statement with arguably the best warranty in the industry. Effective July 1, 2015, the international Rolex warranty is now five years.
The Presidents’ bracelet is back
With the introduction of such an important update to the Day-Date line, Rolex has also brought back the presidents’ bracelet, with three semi-circular links. It is actually an improved version of the original, now equipped with ceramic inserts inside the links, enhancing its suppleness and durability. A new, concealed attachment beneath the bezel ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case. The new-generation concealed Crownclasp, opened with a hinged Rolex crown, is the final aesthetic and functional touch to this sumptuous bracelet.
The Rolex Day-Date 40 will be available in addition to (and will not replace) the 36-mm version. Prices range from $34,850 for the yellow-gold without any diamonds up to $115,550 for the platinum version with the diamond bezel and dial. (Ref. 228206 – platinum, 228235 – Everose gold, 228238 – yellow gold, 228239 – white gold)
According to Rolex, “The Day-Date, when it was launched, brought the modern wristwatch to its apogee.” With the introduction of the Day-Date 40 and its new caliber, Rolex re-affirms what we have already known. It is a watch that is technologically, chronometrically and aesthetically superior to its direct competitors in almost every way. Furthermore, it is not just representative of the success of Rolex, but of everyone who wears it.