The Rolex Day-Date was introduced 1956 and became the first watch to display the date alongside the day of the week, spelled in full. The watch was designed for business people who wanted to be able to see their schedule at a glance without having to pull out their pocket or desk calendars, which were common at the time.
Apart from this pioneering feature, what set the Day-Date apart was that its models were crafted only in 18k gold (yellow, white, or rose gold) or platinum, which only strengthened its exclusivity. Furthermore, Rolex created a special three-piece bracelet with circular links for the model, called the Presidential bracelet. Eventually, the Day-Date earned the nickname “President” as a number of U.S. Presidents have been wearing it on their wrists – most notably Lyndon B. Johnson, who has been photographed wearing it in the Oval Office.
President Lyndon B. Johnson wearing his Rolex Day-Date watch. At left is Hon. Thurgood Marshall. Thurgood Marshall and President Lyndon B. Johnson June 13, 1967 – LBJ Museum C5706-1, by Frank Wolfe, Public Domain.
Today, the Rolex Day-Date is one of the most sought-after watches in the world. It’s known for its elegance and timelessness, and many collectors consider it an heirloom piece. That said, it can be tricky to use if you haven’t learned how to set the day and date on your particular model.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about setting the day and date on a Rolex Day-Date watch, including how to adjust each feature with single or double quickset options available.
Setting your Rolex Day-Date would depend on whether it is non-Quickset, Single Quickset, or Double Quickset. Rolex Day-Date 40, Rolex Oyster Perpetual, and Rolex Datejust 36.
Single Quickset vs Double Quickset
One of Rolex’s biggest problems with the Day-Date line was the need to adjust the time when you needed to change the date and vice-versa. The first major modification to the line didn’t happen until 1972 when Rolex added a hacking seconds feature, which stops the seconds hand while adjusting the time, thus offering better accuracy.
By the late 1970s, they added the Quickset Function which allows for setting the date of the month independently from the time. This was introduced to all Day-Date models by 1983 (Single Quickset) and then again updated and improved in 1990 (Double Quickset).
Rolex President Day-Date White Gold Pink Opal Diamond Dial Watch 128239. This timepiece has the day of the week written in Farsi.
Introducing the Quickset Feature
The Single Quickset and Double Quickset models differ in their date setting mechanisms. Rolex addressed this with some models in the late 1970s.
The Single Quickset was introduced to all models in 1983 and it allows you to change the date without moving the hands of your watch. You could now pull the crown of your watch to the 2nd position and change only the date until the correct date was shown in the window. However, the hands still had to move in order to change the day of the week.
Rolex President Day-Date II White Gold Diamond Mens Watch 218349
It’s still a little frustrating and prolonged process (detailed below) to change the day of the week on the Single Quickset models – but it’s something that can be mastered!
The Double Quickset was introduced at the end of the year 1990 and it allows you to set both time and day separately, which makes this model more convenient than its predecessor. The hands of the watch only need to be moved when you actually need to change the time.
With that, here are the steps to setting the time, date, and day on your Rolex Day-Date watch.
How to Set the Day and Date on a Non-Quickset Rolex Day-Date
Setting the day and date on a non-quickset Rolex Day-Date is a bit more involved than setting it on other watches, but it’s still pretty simple.
1. Unscrew the crown of your watch counterclockwise.
2. Once fully unscrewed, rotating the crown clockwise will manually wind the watch.
3. To set the day and date on a non-Quickset Day-Date watch, you need to pull the crown out into the last position.
4. Advance the hands by rotating the crown clockwise. To change the day of the week and the date you must advance the hands past midnight. This will change both windows simultaneously as well as the time.
To get to the right day, you may have to go through multiple 24-hour cycles.
1. To change the date, turn the hands counterclockwise, past midnight to 9 o’clock. Then reverse the hands back to clockwise and go past midnight. Repeat this pattern of reverse to 9 and forward past midnight until the date is also correct.
2. Once the date is correct, return the hands to the proper current time.
Rolex President Day-Date 40 Ice Blue Dial Platinum Mens Watch 228236 and Rolex President Day-Date 40 Green Dial White Gold Mens Watch 228239
How to Set the Day and Date on a Single Quickset Rolex Day-Date
1. Unscrew the locking crown on your Day-Date watch by rotating it counterclockwise.
2. The first position when the crown is unlocked allows you to manually wind the watch by rotating clockwise.
3. By pulling the crown out to its first position you can rapidly set the date under the cyclops magnifying window at 3 o’clock. Rotating the crown counterclockwise in this position allows you to change the date in one day intervals until you reach the correct date.
4. To change the day of the week, pull the crown out to the last position. Move the hands clockwise past midnight. Depending on the time of day, you may have to move the hands on your watch a full day.
5. Make sure to lock the crown back down when you’re finished in order to lock the case and maintain its water resistance.
How to Set the Day and Date on a Double Quickset Rolex Day-date
1. Unscrew the locking crown by rotating counterclockwise until it’s completely released.
2. Once unlocked, the crown is in winding position. In this position, you can manually wind your watch by turning the crown in a clockwise direction.
3. To change the date and day of the week on this watch you need to pull the crown out one more position.
4. Turning the crown clockwise in this position allows you to advance the date in single day intervals.
5. Turning the crown counterclockwise allows you to change the day of the week in this position.
6. The hands of your watch will not move on this model until you pull the crown out to the final position. It’s in this position that you can set the time.
7. Make sure to completely lock the crown back down when you’re finished. The locking mechanism is part of your watch’s water resistance.
How to Use Your Rolex Day-Date
And that’s it! Now you know how to set the day and date on your Rolex Day-Date no matter which model you have. Part of the fun of owning a timepiece is that privileged relationship and interaction you have with it.
For more instructional guides to Rolex and other brands, check out our Watch How-To series.