Launched in 1956, the Day-Date was the first watch to display the date and day of the week spelled out in full. The collection is exclusively crafted from precious metals such as 18k gold or platinum, and is available with a variety of options and bracelet styles including the famous President bracelet. 2020 update: suggested retail prices start at $33,150 and increase depending on size and options. Shop our full section of used Rolex Watches for sale.
The watch was first designed and given to World War II General and 34 President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Since then, the ultimate luxury watch, El Presidente – which is a Day-Date Rolex that features the exclusive President bracelet – has been found on the wrists of luminaries and dignitaries worldwide, including Eisenhower's successors, JFK and LBJ.
Introduced in 1956, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day Date was the first calendar wristwatch to feature both a date window and a day of the week window (where the complete name of the day was written out) on the dial. The model also debuted a brand new bracelet style dubbed the President bracelet. The watch featured a 36mm Oyster case, an automatic movement, and similar to the Datejust, a Cyclops magnification lens on the crystal above the date window.
Throughout the history of the collection, Rolex has only ever produced it in precious metals, thereby establishing the timepiece as the status watch to own. For that reason they have been a favorite luxury watch among the world's most accomplished people including heads-of-state, celebrities, professional athletes, and captains of industry. Thanks to the name of the bracelet and the watch being worn by several US Presidents, the watch is more commonly known as the President or Presidential.
Although this model has undergone many enhancements and changes over the last six decades, the watch has retained its signature design traits, such as the duo of calendar windows on the dial, the round Oyster case, and its precious metal construction. As such it is one of the brand's most recognizable models and a universal signal of personal success.
The collection is home to several different models including the Day Date 36, the Day-Date II (or Day-Date 2), and the Day-Date 40. Furthermore, from 1977 until the early 2000s, Rolex produced the Oysterquartz model, which as its name suggests ran on a quartz movement but retained the characteristic style of the President watch. Furthermore, in the early 2000s, Rolex manufactured the special "Masterpiece" model for a few years, which included a 39mm case and the Pearlmaster bracelet.
The two models that are still in production today are the 36 and the 40.
As previously mentioned, Rolex has only ever opted to craft the model in precious metals. This includes 18 ct yellow gold, 18 ct white gold, 18 ct rose gold, and 950 platinum. Of course, there are plenty of different editions available with diamonds and other precious stones too. Stainless steel models do not exist.
As of 2005, the rose gold models were replaced with Everose gold - the brand's proprietary 18k pink gold alloy that mixes gold, copper, and platinum and promises to never fade or discolor. There have also been some Tridor versions throughout the watch's history, characterized by the combination of yellow, white, and pink gold on one watch.
The most common types of bezels found on the gold models are the fluted bezels while the platinum models typically have smooth bezels. In fact, although white gold and platinum versions are similar-looking silver-toned models, an easy way to differentiate between these two white metals is that the white gold version usually has a fluted bezel while the platinum one sports a smooth bezel. Gem-set bezels with brilliant-cut diamonds or baguette-cut diamonds are available on select gold and platinum Day-Date models.
There have been a total of four sizes available within the collection: 36mm, 39mm, 40mm, and 41mm.
Day-Date 36 and Oysterquartz: 36mm Oyster Case
Masterpiece: 39mm Oyster Case
Day-Date 40: 40mm Oyster Case
Day-Date II: 41mm Oyster Case
Regardless of the size, the waterproof Oyster cases feature the Twinlock double waterproofness system. This system includes a screw-down Twinlock winding crown with two sealed zones and the hermetically screwed caseback, which together provide optimal protection against moisture and dust.
The Day-Date collection is one of the most varied in terms of dial styles. Along with a variety of different color options, there are also more exotic materials such as mother-of-pearl, meteorite, malachite, lapis lazuli, coral, onyx, burl wood, and so on to choose from.
In the 1970s, Rolex introduced some vibrant lacquer dial design options to the Day-Date collection, which eventually picked up the nickname Rolex "Stella" dials. There are also plenty of diamond-paved dials and diamond-set dials found within the Rolex President collection, not to mention all the different "textured" dials such as linen-style, pyramid-style, and Morellis finish. In 2015, Rolex announced new dials for the Day-Date 40 models, using a novel laser etching technique to create striking textures (crisscross, striped, and quadrant) that can look different depending on the light. In 2019, Rolex unveiled new Day-Date 36 models where two feature dials with a striking concentric gradient pattern. These green ombre dial and brown ombre dial options are embellished with diamond indexes, which include baguette-cut diamonds at six and nine that sit alongside brilliant-cut diamonds for the remaining hour markers. Rolex also introduced some new decorative stone dials fashioned from turquoise or pink opal, where the Roman numerals VI and IX are set with diamonds.
In true Rolex fashion, the Day-Date dials offer a range of index styles too. There are diamond hour markers, Arabic and Roman numeral hour markers, and traditional stick indexes. Additionally, certain Rolex Day-Date dials have no hour markers at all, particularly the stone dials, like those crafted from opal or onyx.
It's important to note that the date wheel displayed via the arch-shaped window on the Day-Date is available in 26 different languages, allowing owners to have a bespoke day display and emphasizing the Rolex President's global appeal.
The bracelet style that is most associated with the watch is (of course) the President bracelet, characterized by a three-link configuration where the links are semicircular in shape. Except for a few precious metal Lady-Datejust models, the President bracelet is exclusively available within the Day-Date collection. However, Rolex has also fitted the Day-Date watch with a few other bracelet styles over the years including leather straps, Oyster bracelets, and Pearlmaster bracelets.
Aside from the quartz-powered Oysterquartz watches, all Day-Date watches run on self-winding chronometer movements. Like all Rolex watch collections, the Day-Date has benefited from movement upgrades over the decades. These upgrades can be generally classified into three categories: non-quickset, single quickset, and double quickset.
The term "quickset" refers to how the calendar windows are set. With non-quickset watches, setting the day and date required the wearer to continuously turn the hour and minute hands until the correct information appeared in the two windows. With single quickset watches, introduced in 1977, the date is set independently from the timekeeping hands but the day window is still coupled to the hands. Finally, the double quickset Day-Date watches, introduced in 1988, offer optimal convenience since both the day and the date windows are set independently from the center hands.
In 2015, Rolex announced a new generation day-date caliber in the form of the perpetual Caliber 3255 movement. With 14 patents to its name, the COSC-Certified Caliber 3255 is entirely manufactured by Rolex and features technical improvements in reliability, precision, and durability. Furthermore, thanks to the new barrel architecture and new Chronergy escapement, Rolex has optimized the efficiency of the high-precision movement whereby the power reserve has now increased to 70 hours (compared to the previous 48-hour power reserve). Another notable Rolex innovation found in Caliber 3255 is the shock-resistant and anti-magnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, made from a paramagnetic alloy of niobium and zirconium. While this modern calendar movement debuted in the Day-Date 40, among the new 2019 Rolex watch models presented at Baselworld were a batch of new Day-Date 36 references fitted with Caliber 3255.
Given its precious metal construction and double calendar functionality, the collection has always boasted some of the most expensive Rolex dress watches available.
Prices for the new 2019 Day Date model ref. 128238 in yellow gold with a fluted bezel start at around $33,000 (as of 2020), while the new 2019 model ref. 128348 with a gem-set bezel starts at around $46,000. Meanwhile, current-production Day-Date 40 models start around $36,550 for the yellow gold version with a fluted bezel and quickly go up from there depending on material and embellishments. Interestingly, Rolex Everose gold and white gold models are more expensive than their yellow gold counterparts. Naturally, the platinum watches are the most expensive.
The secondary market offers some great price points for pre-owned watches, which can start below $10,000 and go up from there.
The ultimate symbol of prestige, exclusivity, and refinement, the Day Date has been an integral part of the brand's collection for over 60 years.
Here is a list of most references that have been produced throughout history
Living up to its famous nickname, the Day-Date has been worn by more presidents, leaders, and visionaries than any other watch. Some notable names that have worn these watches include:
In a tireless quest for perfection, Rolex continues to improve upon their pillar models. Decades since coming to market in the 1950s, the Day-Date 36 remains one of the most sought-after variations of the line, with the newest generation offering a singularly reliable Calibre 3255 Perpetual movement with anti-magnetic components and an impressive 70-hour power reserve. The ref. 128238 is the latest 36mm edition and includes beautifully decorated dials and the use of precious metal.
Its predecessor, ref. 118238, is still very prevalent in the secondary market and is a great option to consider if you seek a relatively more affordable, yet still quite modern, solid gold Day-Date. Rose gold is also trending with examples such as the Day-Date 118235 drawing the interest of many used Rolex collectors. This edition is available on either a flat-link Oyster or a Presidential bracelet and runs on a Calibre 3155 movement with a Double Quickset function. The Day-Date 40 is also trending among modern collections and is produced in either yellow gold, white gold, or platinum.