WatchWorks Haarlem / Rolex Day-Date; The Precious Beginnings

Rolex Day-Date; The Precious Beginnings

They often say that a Rolex is a testimony of one’s success, but if that’s true, then the Day-Date must be the ultimate expression of that. Launched in 1956, the Day-Date was the very first watch to show not only the date but also the day. It does so in full, in a window located between eleven and one o’clock. This made the Day-Date quite the eyecatcher when it was just launched. Another unique aspect of the Day-Date is that Rolex has only ever made it in precious metals, which further adds to its, literal golden status.

The day of the week spelled out in full is what made the Day-Date revolutionary.

With the launch of the Day-Date, Rolex also introduced a new bracelet style. It consists of three links, of which the middle row is polished, matching the bezel of the Day-Date. This bracelet is also known as the President bracelet, after the nickname given to the Day-Date. Its precious nature made that it quickly became popular among the rich, famous, and powerful, including Popes and presidents. Lyndon B. Johnson was the first US President to wear a Day-Date in office. He wasn’t the first to own one because that was his predecessor John F. Kennedy. He got one from Marilyn Monroe with the inscription ‘Jack, With love as always from, Marilyn.’ Needless to say, the very-married Kennedy asked an aide to dispose of the watch as soon as possible. It resurfaced in 2005 when it was auctioned for US$120,000,-.

Rolex Day-Date Reference 1803 in white gold

The first Rolex Day-Date, reference 6511, with a fluted bezel, and reference 6510, with a plain, domed one, are very rare as they have only been produced for a single year. Already in 1957 Rolex introduced the reference 6611, which came with an updated movement. This caliber 1055 features micro-stella adjustment with a free-sprung balance for improved performance. The next big change came in 1960 with the Reference 1803. This one featured another movement update with caliber 1555, which ran at 19.600 VpH, instead of the 18,000 VpH of its predecessor. In 1972 it would be updated once again, adding a hack function to seconds hand.

The Rolex Day-Date Reference 1803 was also delivered on a strap

What Reference 1803 is best known for is the pie-pan dial. This means that the edges curve toward the movement, creating a more three-dimensional effect. During this time, the Day-Date was available with the weekday spelled out in 24 languages. English was the most popular, making others sometimes highly collectible. Rolex offered the Reference 1803 on a precious metal bracelet but also on s strap, making it look a bit more understated. While it was already a watch with quite a reputation, this would only mark the beginning of the Day-Date saga.