The Rolex Day-Date Ref 1803 AKA The President
In the current Rolex catalog, the Day-Date just doesn't seem to fit in. Although it has plenty of history (it's called a President dammit!), the Day-Date just hasn't seemed to have the same level of enthusiasm around it, especially when compared to the other watches made by Rolex.
Until recently that is.
The Day-Date has always been synonymous with success - I remember as a newly qualified, fresh-faced doctor (feeling haggard after routine 100 hour weeks), watching my Surgical Consultant swanning in, yellow gold, conspicuous as hell Day-Date glinting in the light as he swung out from under his red Lamborghini.
I mean, it could be for this very reason that the Day-Date is held in a different light compared to its stainless steel, sporty siblings.
Things seem to have changed though in recent times, with Day-Date prices sky-rocketing as more and more people see the Gold Day-Dates as vintage cool, especially when paired with modern buckles and straps.
Given the attention garnered by Rolex's other models, like the GMTs or the Daytonas, one could be forgiven for not realising the Day-Date is in fact Rolex's flagship model. The Day-Date is the only watch that is not offered in stainless-steel unlike every other Rolex model (EDIT: it turns out that in 1959 Rolex released the 6611 in Stainless-Steel and this is now one of the most sought after models ever!).
The Day-Date was the first watch to ever spell out all seven days of the week in full, when it was launched in 1956. Rolex soon expanded this to cover up to 26 languages. Rolex used this to replace more complicated movements, like their 6062 and 8171 which had moon phase complications that just didn't seem to be that popular, as well as being a b*tch to make. The Day-Date allowed Rolex to have a prestigious model with a complication that made it special.
The very first Presidents were made in yellow, rose or white gold, had had either a domed (ref. 6510) or fluted (ref. 6511) bezel. These models were only available for a single year before being replaced by the ref. 6611, featuring the updated caliber 1055 and the official introduction of the "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified" text on the dial; this reference was available until 1959.
It was after this reference that the Day-Date really took prominence. The 18XX (of which we have a rather lovely example) was in production until 1978 and during this time it appeared on the wrists of some of the most powerful men in existence; President Lyndon B. Johnson wore the Day-Date and this association ended up giving the Day-Date it's moniker - The President.
In 1978, the five-digit Day-Date ref. 1803 lost the pie-pan dial and gained a sapphire crystal, the high-beat caliber 3055, and quick-set functionality for the date (not the day, quite yet).
The new Day-Date was also accompanied by the introduction of the Oysterquartz collection, headlined by a solid-gold, quartz-powered watch (ref. 19018) styled as a Day-Date alternative. The self-winding ref. 18038 remained in production for a full decade, while the Oysterquartz option would still be available, all the way up until 2001 (check out a future blog post to see our Oysterquartz - one of only 20,000 ever made).
The Day-Date ref. 18200 (caliber 3155) was introduced in 1988 with the first double quick-set ability for the Day-Date, allowing both calendar complications to be adjusted through the crown.
In 2000 Rolex added the six-digit ref. 118000 in 2000, with an improved bracelet and clasp. The Day-Date II ref. 218238 was introduced in 2008 to help commemorate the company's centennial anniversary. It's also considered a rare misstep for Rolex. It grew the diameter of the Day-Date up to 41mm and lasted only until 2015, when the secondary naming convention was dropped and the case trimmed back to 40mm.
The position of the Rolex Day-Date as the very top model in the Rolex catalogue has meant that it has always been a grail for top clients - resulting in lots of customised variants with different colours, hands and bracelets. This makes it very difficult for the collector who wants them all... and it also makes it very difficult to collate the history of the Day-Date and all its variants.
Many people have criticised Rolex for being slow and a bit boring in its approach to watches, but with the Day-Date, Rolex has also offered a thousand different ways to make the watch special. The consistent option for multiple precious-metal cases, as well as custmisable dial options, has also made the Day-Date compatible within all types of cultures that prize different materials for different reasons.
Where the hype at?
A precious metal Rolex is still a precious metal Rolex. The gold value of these Day-Dates will be much higher than the more sought after stainless-steel watches and therefore you will have inherent downside protection.
The hype around the Day-Date is starting to grow, which gives you the opportunity to get awesome pieces like our diamond 1803 for date prices. The day-Date is the watch of Presidents, tycoons and the uber successful, and it's clear that it will continue to inspire even more people to their heights as it has been doing since 1959.
If you'd like to beat the curve and get your hands on a Rolex Day-Date Ref 1803 take a look at ours, replete with box and papers!