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The Rolex President Day-Date is the brand’s signature status watch. A highly recognized symbol of accomplishment and success, few luxury watches come close to the timelessness and prestige of the Rolex Day-Date.
Introduced in 1956, the Rolex Day-Date was the world’s first timepiece to display the day of the week spelled in full. Coupled with an elegant design, it is crafted only in precious metals, and equipped with the exclusive refined metal bracelet dubbed “The President”.
The Rolex Day-Date earned its moniker as “The President’s Watch” after gracing the wrists of several U.S. presidents, including Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. Over the years, it has also become the choice watch of leaders across the spectrum – from business titans like Warren Buffett, to sport heavyweights like Michael Jordan. As a vintage Rolex Day-Date ad goes, “A Rolex will never change the world. We leave that to the people who wear them.”
At SwissWatchExpo, we offer a wide variety of Rolex President Day-Date watches for men and women, from vintage models, to contemporary styles.
Rolex blazed the trail with a number of horological innovations in the early 1900s. In 1926, they created the first waterproof watch, the Oyster. This was followed by a patented self-winding mechanism with a free rotor, dubbed the “Perpetual” movement in 1931. By 1945, Rolex invented the first wristwatch with an automatically changing date – the Rolex Datejust.
In 1956, Rolex yet again caused a sensation, with a watch that was a step above its date-only offering. Made only in gold or platinum, the new watch possessed the same bezel and case size as its sibling, but with a specially crafted bracelet and an important new development – the full day of the week displayed at 12 o’clock. Dubbed the Rolex Day-Date, it symbolized the pinnacle of Rolex’s watchmaking prowess.
The Rolex Day-Date has been continually produced since its launch, and received a number of updates through the years.
With its first two references, the 6510 and 6511, the Rolex Day-Date’s caseback had a slightly domed appearance similar to the “Bubbleback”. This was to make way for the thickness of the automatic mechanism and the two day and date wheels.
In 1959, Rolex introduced the 18xx series of Day-Date, which improved the mechanics of the previous references. This family of watches would become the classic canon that is associated with the Rolex Day-Date.
From the 1970s to the late 1980s, the adjustment of the day and date apertures were also improved. The Single Quickset was introduced in 1977, which allowed the setting of the date independently from the hour hands. The Double Quickset followed in 1988, where both the date and day of the week can be adjusted independent of the time.
Through the years, Rolex also offered its timepieces to influential men, not only to promote their brand, but to establish its association with success and accomplishment.
Although he was not the first U.S. President to sport the Day-Date, Lyndon B. Johnson was undoubtedly the world leader that established its reputation as the watch of presidents and diplomats. Johnson often wore the Rolex Day-Date throughout his presidency, and was also known for giving away Rolex watches as gifts. In 1966, Rolex advertised the Day-Date with the line “The presidents’ watch”, therefore emphasizing its connection to the Oval office. Today, it’s common for people to refer to the Rolex Day-Date simply as “The President”.
In the new millennium, Rolex introduced more milestones to the Day-Date collection. A more robust and polished President bracelet, along with leather and Oyster bracelet options, were offered in the 2000s. The first ever Rolex Day-Date in a 41mm case was unveiled in 2008. This was later on replaced by a scaled back Rolex Day-Date 40mm case, which is still produced today alongside the 36mm version.
From being the choice timepiece of presidents, the Rolex Day-Date continues to earn the approval of a diverse array of luminaries – from prominent leaders and businessmen, to celebrities and athletes.
The inaugural Rolex Day-Date came in a 36mm Oyster case made of solid 18k gold, with a double calendar functionality, and a three-piece President bracelet. The features of the Rolex President Day-Date has evolved through its history, but the following key components remain:
The Rolex Day-Date is offered in the brand’s waterproof Oyster case, which features the Twinlock double waterproofness system. Patented by Rolex in 1953, this system includes a screw-down winding crown, two sealed zones, and the hermetically screwed caseback. Together, these elements provide optimum protection against moisture and dust.
The Rolex Day-Date’s case has been offered in four sizes throughout its life span:
All Rolex Day-Date models come only in solid 18k gold (yellow, white, and rose gold), and 950 platinum. As of 2005, the rose gold models have been replaced with Rolex’s proprietary 18k rose gold alloy called the Everose.
The signature design of the Rolex Day-Date features two windows. There is a date window at 3 o’clock, and a day window at 12 o’clock with the day of the week spelled out in full.
Rolex initially produced the day wheel in 11 different languages, but with the Day-Date’s success, Rolex has expanded the selection to as many as 26. Both the day and date apertures change exactly at midnight.
When the Rolex Day-Date was introduced, a special three-piece bracelet with circular links was created especially for the collection. Called the “President”, it is reserved only for the Day-Date collection, and for Lady Datejust models made in precious metals. Like the Oyster case, it is crafted exclusively in 18k gold or platinum, and fitted only with the Crownclasp, Rolex’s elegantly concealed clasp.
While the vast majority of Rolex Day-Date watches come with the President bracelet, the brand has also fitted the Day-Date with other bracelet styles such as Oyster bracelets, Pearlmaster bracelets, and leather straps.
When the Rolex Day-Date was introduced in 1956, it featured a 36mm Oyster case, a fluted bezel, and the now iconic President bracelet. The collection then evolved into a broader selection of metal options, dial colors, bezel types, and sizes. Movements were also updated through the decades. Below are the defining characteristics of each generation of the Rolex Day-Date:
ROLEX DAY-DATE ref 6XXX (1956 – 1960)
Reference Numbers: 6510, 6511, 6611, 6612 and 6613
Movements: Caliber 1055
The first to models of the Rolex Day-Date were the ref 6510 and 6511, followed by the 6611. They inherited the same 36mm Oyster case and fluted bezel of the Rolex Datejust introduced in 1945. These models were the first watches in the world to display both the date of the month and the day of the week, spelled out in full through a window on the dial. They ran on the Caliber 1055, which had a self-winding mechanism, and required a bulkier case to house the new day disc.
In 1957, the Caliber 1055 was updated with the free sprung Micro-Stella balance, thus earning the label "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified" on the dial.
ROLEX LADY PRESIDENT (1960s –)
While the President bracelet was made for the Rolex Day-Date, the brand began to offer it as an option for the Lady Datejust in the 1960s. It is paired with precious metal versions of the Lady-Datejust which were made in 26mm versions until 2015, then larger 28mm cases thereafter.
ROLEX DAY-DATE ref 180X (1959 – 1978)
Reference Numbers: 1803, 1804, 1806, 1802, 1807, 1811
Movements: Caliber 1555, later 1556
In the next series, the Rolex Day-Date was upgraded to the Caliber 1555 and later 1556, which introduced the hacking seconds feature. This allows the wearer to stop the seconds hand while setting the time, allowing for increased precision. It was also during this series that Rolex experimented with different dial options, bezel textures, and even bracelets.
ROLEX DAY-DATE ref 180XX (1977 – 1988)
Reference Numbers: 18028, 18038, 18048, 18078, 18039, 18049, 18079, 18026
Movements: Caliber 3055
The 180XX series or the five-digit Rolex Day-Dates are very much like their predecessors, but with the upgraded Caliber 3055. This introduced the Single Quickset feature to the collection, which allows the wearer to adjust the date of the month independently from the time.
ROLEX DAY-DATE OYSTERQUARTZ (1977 – 2000s)
Reference Numbers: 19018, 19019, 19028, 19038, 19048, 19049, 19068, 19148, 19168
Movements: Caliber 5055, later 5355
The Quartz Crisis hit the industry in the late 1970s, where trends shifted towards quartz powered watches, causing significant decline in the Swiss watchmaking industry. To keep up with the trend, Rolex developed their own quartz movement watches called the Oysterquartz.
The Rolex Oysterquartz was introduced in Datejust and Day-Date editions. The Day-Date Oysterquartz featured a distinctively angular case shape and an integrated President bracelet. They were produced until the early 2000s.
ROLEX DAY-DATE 182XX (1988 – late 1990s)
Reference Numbers: 18238, 18248, 18239, 18249 (183xx with diamond cases)
Movements: Caliber 3155
The 182XX series was launched in the late 1980s, bringing with it the updated Caliber 3155. It introduced the now-standard Double Quickset function, where the wearer can correct both the date and day display independently from the central time-telling hands, and without twisting the crown in full 24-hour rotations.
ROLEX DAY-DATE 118XXX (2000 – )
Reference Numbers: 118208, 118238, 118348, 118138, 118239, 118389, 118139, 118205, 118235, 118135, 118206, 118346
Movements: Caliber 3155
In 2000, Rolex unveiled the Day-Date with the six-digit 118xxx series. While these watches were equipped with the same Caliber 3155 as the previous version, these had heftier bracelets, high-polished lugs, and more secure clasps.
This generation of Rolex Day-Date watches is also the most varied. There are options in 18k gold (yellow gold, white gold, and Everose gold) and in platinum. Bracelet options were expanded to include the sporty Oyster and an assortment of leather straps, on top of the standard President bracelet.
ROLEX DAY-DATE II (2008 – 2015)
Reference Numbers: 218238, 218235, 218239, 218206
Movements: Caliber 3156
As bigger watches gained more popularity, Rolex responded by offering a larger and beefier version of the Rolex Day-Date. In 2008, they introduced the Rolex Day-Date II, which had a larger 41mm case and wider lugs and bracelets. It was also equipped with the Caliber 3156, which gave it a 48-hour power reserve. The Rolex Day-Date II was eventually replaced by the Day-Date 40.
ROLEX DAY-DATE 40 (2015 – present)
Reference Numbers: 228238, 228239, 228235, 228206
Movements: Caliber 3255
With the Rolex Day-Date 40, Rolex scaled back on the size and heft of the previous 41mm version. Its case measures 40mm, with tapered proportions that are closer to the traditional 36mm Datejust. Aside from its size, the Day-Date 40 is powered by the Caliber 3255 movement, which offers a power reserve of 72 hours and an accuracy rating of -2 / +2 seconds per day.
ROLEX DAY-DATE ref 1282XX (2019 – present)
Reference Numbers: 128238, 128239, 128235
Movements: Caliber 3255
The current production of Rolex Day-Date 36 was also equipped with the new Caliber 3255. It boasts of magnetic-resistant and anti-shock technology that offers a 72-hour power reserve and singularly precise reading. It is protected by a total of 14 patents.
Famous for its day window that spells out the day of the week in full, the Rolex Day-Date is available in 26 different languages, namely:
The table below shows the list of Rolex Day-Date references through the years, from vintage 4 and 5-digit references, to the modern 6-digit models. Beginning with the 5-digit references, Rolex has used a reference number system that can be used to identify the model type, metal, and bezel color of the watch.
|REFERENCE NUMBER||YEAR PRODUCED||MATERIAL|
|6510||1956 - 1957||18k Gold|
|6511||1956 - 1957||18k Gold|
|6611||1957 - 1959||18k Gold|
|6612||1957 - 1959||18k Gold|
|6613||1957 - 1959||18k Gold|
|1803||1959 - 1978||18k Gold, Fluted Bezel|
|1804||1959 - 1978||18k Gold, Diamond Bezel|
|1806||1959 - 1978||18k Gold, Florentine Decoration|
|1802||1959 - 1978||18k Gold, Smooth Bezel|
|1807||1959 - 1978||18k Gold, Bark|
|1811||1959 - 1978||18k Gold, Morelli / Moire|
|18028||1977 - 1988||Yellow Gold Day-Date Smooth Bezel|
|18038||1977 - 1988||Yellow Gold Day-Date Fluted Bezel|
|18048||1977 - 1988||Yellow Gold Day-Date Diamond Bezel|
|18078||1977 - 1988||Yellow Gold Day-Date Bark Accents|
|18039||1977 - 1988||White Gold Day-Date Fluted Bezel|
|18049||1977 - 1988||White Gold Day-Date Diamond Bezel|
|18079||1977 - 1988||White Gold Day-Date Bark Accents|
|18026||1977 - 1988||Platinum Day-Date Smooth Bezel|
|19018||1977 – 2000s||Oysterquartz Yellow Gold Day-Date|
|19019||1977 – 2000s||Oysterquartz White Gold Day-Date|
|19028||1977 – 2000s||Oysterquartz Yellow Gold Day-Date with pyramid bracelet and bezel|
|19038||1977 – 2000s||Oysterquartz Yellow Gold Day-Date with pyramid bracelet and bezel with 12 brilliants|
|19048||1977 – 2000s||Oysterquartz Yellow Gold Day-Date with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliant, and 2 baguettes on the dial|
|19049||1977 – 2000s||OysterquartzWhite Gold Day-Date with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliant, and 2 baguettes on the dial|
|19068||1977 – 2000s||OysterquartzYellow Gold Day-Date with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliants and 2 baguettes on the dial, and a pyramid bracelet|
|19148||1977 – 2000s||Oysterquartz Yellow Gold Day-Date with 44 brilliants on the bezel, 8 brilliants and 2 baguettes on the dial, bracelet set with 308 brilliants|
|19168||1977 – 2000s||OysterquartzYellow Gold Day-Date set with gems on the dial, bracelet, and bezel|
|18238||1988 – late 1990s||Yellow Gold Day-Date Fluted Bezel|
|18248||1988 – late 1990s||Yellow Gold Day-Date Bark Bezel|
|18239||1988 – late 1990s||White Gold (including Tridor) Day-Date Fluted Bezel|
|18249||1988 – late 1990s||White Gold Day-Date Bark Bezel|
|118208||2000 – 2019||Yellow Gold Day-Date Smooth Bezel|
|118238||2000 – 2019||Yellow Gold Day-Date Fluted Bezel|
|118348||2000 – 2019||Yellow Gold Day-Date Diamond Bezel|
|118138||2000 – 2019||Yellow Gold Day-Date Leather Strap|
|118239||2000 – 2019||White Gold Day-Date Fluted Bezel|
|118389||2000 – 2019||White Gold Day-Date Diamond Bezel|
|118139||2000 – 2019||White Gold Day-Date Leather Strap|
|118205||2000 – 2019||Everose Gold Day-Date Smooth Bezel|
|118235||2000 – 2019||Everose Gold Day-Date Fluted Bezel|
|118135||2000 – 2019||Everose Gold Day-Date Leather Strap|
|118206||2000 – 2019||Platinum Day-Date Smooth Bezel|
|118346||2000 – 2019||Platinum Day-Date Diamond Bezel|
|218238||2008 – 2015||Day-Date II Yellow Gold|
|218235||2008 – 2015||Day-Date II Rose Gold|
|218239||2008 – 2015||Day-Date II White Gold|
|218206||2008 – 2015||Day-Date II Platinum|
|228238||2015 –||Day-Date 40 Yellow Gold|
|228239||2015 –||Day-Date 40 White Gold|
|228235||2015 –||Day-Date 40 Rose Gold|
|228206||2015 –||Day-Date 40 Platinum|
|128238||2019 –||Day-Date 36 Yellow Gold|
|128239||2019 –||Day-Date 36 White Gold|
|128235||2019 –||Day-Date 36 Everose Gold|
The Rolex Day-Date is highly coveted for its classical design, premium materials, and illustrious heritage. Here are some of the most common questions asked about the Rolex President Day-Date.
The Rolex Day-Date is the flagship collection of Rolex introduced in 1956. It is composed of classically designed watches made exclusively in 18k gold (yellow, white, rose or Everose) and platinum. It is characterized by two apertures on its dial – one to display the date, and another to display the day of the week in full – plus a three-piece bracelet called the President.
The Rolex Day-Date has a higher price tag because of its premium materials and more complicated movement. Except for very rare vintage models, the Day-Date has never been offered in steel or two-tone configurations. They are exclusively crafted in solid 18k gold or in 950L platinum. Moreover, its movement allows for two apertures to display the date, and the day of the week in full.
With the exception of very rare vintage models, all Rolex Day-Date watches are made only from solid 18k gold or platinum, which are relatively heavy materials. If your Rolex Day-Date does not have the heft of these materials, then it is likely fake.
Moreover, each Rolex timepiece is made to the highest standards. Check the quality of its bezel, markers, and the text on the dial, date and day windows. If even a minute detail comes across as sub-standard, you can be certain that it’s not the real deal.
We always advise clients to only purchase a watch from a reputable and trusted dealer, who can provide a guarantee of authenticity on the watch.
Rolex Day-Date watches are water resistant to a depth of 100 meters of 330 feet. The collection was not made specifically for aquatic use, but like other watches with Rolex’s Oyster cases, they come with screw-down crowns and case backs, which protect the movement from moisture and dust that can be encountered with daily use.