Watches as a hobby can often be misunderstood. People who don’t have the “watch bug” can misplace our interest in design and horology and see it simply as a shallow consumer-based pursuit of status and luxury items. This is especially true of Rolex watches. No other brand in watches—maybe no other brand period— advertises status like Rolex. Within the brand, the watch model most identified as the “I made it” watch is the Day-Date. For decades, the Day-Date has been a staple on the wrists of powerful and successful people across the world. Like the watch hobby as a whole, the Day-Date is often misunderstood and reduced to just a status symbol. There’s a lot more to the Day-Date, and it’s worth taking a closer look at.
Here we have two modern examples of the Day-Date—the rose gold reference 228235 and the platinum reference 228206. While they might look like the same old Day-Date you know and love, these are cutting-edge timepieces and are not to be confused for your fathers’ Day-Dates. These models were introduced at Baselworld 2015 as a replacement for the 41 mm Day-Date II. They’re still larger than the classic 36mm version, but they very much represent the model getting back to its roots. These 40mm Date-Dates restored the iconic lines and proportions that the Day-Date II had lost. These watches also brought with them a whole host of innovations that would later go on to improve the rest of the Rolex watch line.
These two watches have many core traits in common but are very different-looking watches with different personalities. The rose gold model has a very traditional look to it. While the classic Day-Date material is yellow gold, there’s just something about rose gold that imbues things with a vintage quality—despite the fact that rose gold is a somewhat trendy material. Because of this, the watch is contradictorily both hip and cool while being timeless at the same time.
The dial is a rich chocolate brown with a sunburst finish, and it complements the rose gold perfectly. The hands and Rolex crown are made of rose gold, but the indices are baguette-cut diamonds. This is my favorite implementation of diamonds on a watch. The diamonds certainly up the bling factor, but because they’re underneath the crystal and serve a functional role, they don’t catch onlookers’ eyes quite as much. Overall this watch is pure luxury but not in an overly showy way. It’s like a very attractive and happily married person who knows they’re turning heads, but couldn’t care less.
The platinum reference 228206, however, is a very different watch. This is a distinctly modern, almost futuristic-looking Day-Date. Its clean, smooth bezel and ice blue dial are both exclusive to the platinum version, which—god forbid—prevents it from being confused with the white gold variant. This dial, too, has baguette-cut diamonds for hour indices, and while they don’t look out of place on the rose gold watch, they look perfect on this one. The combination of the ice blue dial with the cold glistening platinum makes the diamonds the most fitting choice for indices. Because it’s a light-colored metal, it has a better chance of going unnoticed to those who don’t know watches, but it will also make a much louder statement than a yellow or rose gold Day-Date for those who do. If the rose gold personifies content confidence, this platinum watch embodies being on the prowl.
You can’t talk about the Day-Date without talking about the bracelet. It’s almost as legendary as the watch itself. Named the “President,” it’s only available in precious metals and is a bit of a hybrid between Rolex’s Jubilee and Oyster style bracelets combining the best of both of them. It’s a supremely comfortable but durable bracelet, and damn, is it good-looking. Historically though, this bracelet has become known for its tendency to “stretch” over time. This happens over the course of years when the metal pins grind against their sleeves and wear down. The effect of this is the bracelet looks as though it has stretched out when really it’s just metal wearing down. With these latest generation President bracelets, that problem is a thing of the past. Rolex has put ceramic on the inside of the pin sleeves, getting rid of the metal on metal contact and ensuring the bracelet stays tight and secure indefinitely. This is a small update, but it solves a problem that has long plagued Rolex bracelets, and it illustrates Rolex’s constant pursuit of perfection.
Inside these two watches is the in-house caliber 3255. Though Rolex is known for small incremental changes to their watches, this movement was actually built from the ground up. Rolex claims that over 90% of the components were analyzed and reworked and that this single movement had 14 patents filed for it. One of the most important updates to this movement is the use of the Chronergy escapement, which enables the watch to operate much more efficiently and accurately. Both watches have a power reserve of 70 hours and are accuracy rated to -2/+2 seconds per day. This is bar none the most advanced, accurate, and reliable movement Rolex has ever made.
The Day-Date to outsiders may seem like just a showy cocky watch, but it’s so much more than that. There’s a reason it’s graced the wrists of everyone from the President of the United States to the Dalai Lama. The Day-Date is arguably Rolex’s most innovative timepiece. Hell, it was the very first Rolex to be labeled a “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified.” This now-standard label started on the Day-Date, and that trend of the Day-Date being a vehicle for innovation continues to this day. The advanced series of 32xx movements were first seen in these Day-Dates and are still trickling down to the rest of the Rolex line. The ceramic pin sleeves were also first seen on these watches and are now standard. That’s where the Day-Dates real value lies, in all the innovation that gets introduced through it. As goes the Day-Date so goes Rolex.