Rolex Day-Date II vs Day-Date 40

The Rolex Day-Date was introduced in 1956 as the Crown’s flagship watch. It was the first timepiece in history to display the day of the week spelled in full at 12 o’clock. The premium status of the watch was made even more apparent with its gold or platinum construction, and special “President” bracelet.

For decades, the Day-Date was available in just 36mm sizes. Due to the growing demand for larger watches, a bigger 41mm version was introduced in 2008: the Rolex Day-Date II. Just seven years later, it was replaced by the Day-Date 40. Even with their almost similar dimensions, each model provides a different version of the classic dress watch.

Here’s a closer look at the differences between the Rolex Day-Date II and Day-Date 40:

 

Rolex Day-Date 40 Platinum Diamond 228396TBR /
Rolex Day-Date II White Gold Diamond 218349

 

Case Dimensions

As stated earlier, the Rolex Day-Date II measures 41mm, while the Day-Date 40 measures 40mm. While the 1mm difference may seem trivial on paper, it’s definitely felt and seen on the wrist.

 

Rolex Day-Date II White Gold Blue Dial 218239

 

The Day-Date II gives off a sportier look with its brawny profile. It exudes effortless sophistication, making it ideal for everyday wear. A wider bezel, plus a thicker build and lugs provide a bolder wrist presence.

When it first came out in 2008, one of the main criticisms thrown at this statement piece was that it lost the elegant proportions of the traditional Day-Date from the 1950s. While men with larger wrists welcomed its strong features, its lifespan was short-lived and was discontinued seven years later.

 

Rolex Day-Date 40 Gold Watches

 

In 2015, Rolex replaced the Day-Date II with the Day-Date 40. The most obvious change on paper is scaling back the case size by 1mm. But visually, one will notice its balanced design, thinner profile and bezel, as well as slimmer lugs. Just a quick glance between the two will show the difference.

The Day-Date 40 looks like the original Day-Date, only larger and dressier – a fresh and contemporary update to the classic status watch.

 


 

Precious Metals

Both the Day-Date II and 40 remain true to the exclusive nature of the collection. As always, they are solely made in solid 18k yellow, white, and Everose gold or 950 platinum.

 

Rolex Day-Date II Gold Wave Dial Watches

 

Rolex has never made a two-tone iteration of the Day-Date, which makes it more distinctive. Metal variations become apparent with the bezel – gold models come with the classic fluted bezel, and in rarer cases, diamond bezels; while the platinum models have smooth domed bezels.

 


 

Dial Designs

Rolex collectors are always spoiled for choice when it comes to dial designs. Signature traits remained such as a day window above 12, which is available in 26 different languages, and a date indicator at 3  which is still magnified by a Cyclops lens on top of the sapphire case.

Both the Day-Date II and Day-Date 40 come in different dial colors – from champagne to black, blue, and silver with a sunburst finish. Per the brand’s tradition, platinum models come exclusively with ice blue or glacier-colored dials. Various hour marker styles like Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, batons, and diamonds are also made available.

 

Rolex Day-Date II Yellow Gold 218238

 

However, what sets their dials apart are the printed designs and the shapes of the diamond hour markers. The Day-Date II comes with special edition wave-printed dials in blue and black. Meanwhile, with the Day-Date 40, Rolex introduced new laser etching technology to create dial patterns featuring stripes, crisscross, and quadrant motifs.

The indices are also more modern on the Day-Date 40: the Roman numerals are faceted and deconstructed, and gem-set hour markers are baguette-shaped. These replace the round brilliants in a square index setting seen on Day-Date II.

 

Rolex Day-Date 40 Gold Watches

 


 

Bracelet

In keeping with tradition, both the Day-Date II and Day-Date 40 feature a  President bracelet with three-piece semi-circular links and a concealed folding Crownclasp.

Ceramic inserts were introduced in the platinum Day-Date II to slow down stretching over time; while all Day-Date 40 models were given these parts in their bracelet links.

 

Rolex Day-Date II Ice Blue Dial Platinum 218206

 


 

Movement

Inside the Day-Date II is a reliable automatic movement with 31 jewels: the Caliber 3156. This mechanism runs time, day, and date functions, as well as a power reserve of about 48 hours.

 

Calibers 3156 and 3255

 

Meanwhile, the Day-Date 40 received an upgrade with the new Caliber 3255. With 14 patents and a 70-hour power reserve, this movement presents improvements in precision, shock- and magnetic-resistance, and overall reliability.

 


 

If you prefer a sporty and bold approach to the dress watch, the Day-Date II is available in the secondary market. But if you’re after a timepiece with the classic proportions of the quintessential 36mm Rolex President, the Day-Date 40 is your best bet. Explore our selection of Rolex Day-Date II and Day-Date 40 watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.

 

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