The Rolex Day-Date is a strange watch. Well… not the watch itself. The watch everybody calls the President is a fabulous timepiece. One that perhaps defines the brand as much as any other (yes, Submariner and GMT-Master junkies, I know…).
When it appeared in 1956, the Day-Date was Rolex’s last ditch attempt at a complicated watch. Not complicated at all by today’s standards, but it was the first to show both date and day, the latter fully spelled out in a beautiful arc centered on the dial at 12 o’clock.
The President has only ever been produced in precious metal – shades of gold, plus platinum. But other companies have copied it, paid homage to it, and yes, counterfeited it.
You see, ETA produces a movement that mimics the day and date locations, although the proportions are slightly different. It’s this movement that the Tudor Oyster Prince ref. 7017 uses for the same look. Bulova and others have also used the movement to produce their own versions of “the President.”
But back to the genuine Rolex article.
The watch doesn’t get a lot of attention, perhaps not even as much respect as it deserves. Why is that?
*** WARNING *** Personal speculation ahead.
I think it’s because the sport models have taken over Rolex. Today’s Nouveau Riche are all over them, and that leaves the President sitting in the corner, waiting for someone to ask it to dance. After all, perhaps the thinking goes, the Day-Date is a grandpa watch.
Well, not so fast. The President, with its easily exchanged dials and bezel, has become one of the most bling-able watches of our time. Even though its 36mm diameter is modest by current standards, the look can be made much bigger by simply adding a big diamond bezel. Augment that with a diamond dial and you’ve got a watch that would make a rapper proud.
Rolex has modernized the Day-Date a couple of times recently. The Day-Date II jumped to 41mm, and just last year, the Day-Date 40 saw the light of day. Traditionalists take note, however: The 36mm version is still available.
And we’re starting to see women wear the President too. Rolex brand ambassador and skier extraordinaire Lindsey Vonn wears one rather than the delicate and diminutive Lady Datejust. And I ran into Giorgia Mondani a few months ago at the Miami Antique Show, and she was wearing a beautiful green-dialed yellow gold piece.
So maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Day-Date does get its propers. But, as Ms. Mondani pointed out to me in Miami, “The President is a strange watch.”