The Ideology of the Iconic Rolex Day-Date
Original launched in 1956, the Rolex Day-Date has become as much of a cult classic as it has an archetypal enigma of modern watchmaking. I was sent a media note late last week which divulged the rich history and cultured presence of its status in watchmaking as being the perennial pièce de résistance of Rolex which I felt I had to share. So, here it is. Enjoy!
(Please note this piece of content is originally sourced from Rolex SA.)
OYSTER PERPETUAL DAY-DATE
THE REALIZATION OF AN IDEAL
If time changes all things, this minute changes things like no other. When midnight strikes, the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date forms a bridge between past and future, between what has been achieved and what remains to be lived. Since 1956, it has borne witness to the greatest moments in history on the wrist of visionaries, virtuosos and pioneers. Those who make each day a promise for the future.
INNOVATION AND PRESTIGE
THE BIRTH OF AN ICON
In the 1950s, major economic, political and social change was in the air. Distances were shortening while information was being exchanged ever more quickly.
Under the leadership of Hans Wilsdorf, for whom “dates and days are a necessity”, Rolex sought to develop a model with a clearly readable day display, appropriate for everyday use.
Launched in 1956, the Day-Date was introduced as the “watch of prestige” of the Oyster Perpetual collection, transcending a value that hitherto had been dominated by the Datejust, released in 1945.
The unprecedented innovation that the Day-Date offered made it truly unique and instantly recognizable: it displayed the day of the week in an arc-shaped window at 12 o’clock. The Day-Date offered a solution to those requiring complete mastery of their personal calendar.
UNIQUE AND UNIVERSAL
THE DAY-DATE SPEAKS ITS WEARER’S LANGUAGE
Although the days may be the same wherever you are in the world, they are written
differently depending on the language. Using most writing systems – Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic,
Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese ideograms and even the Ge’ez alphasyllabary used in the Horn
of Africa – the Day-Date expresses the cultural identity of its wearer.
Universal yet personal, the Day-Date was originally available in 25 different languages:
Arabic, Basque, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, Ethiopian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German,
Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Moroccan, Norwegian, Polish,
Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. The number rose to 26 with the
addition of Chinese in 1973.
A PRECIOUS ALLY
THE DAY-DATE, A SYMBOL OF PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT
Worn over the years by eminent figures who have dedicated their lives to the achievement
of high ideals – heads of state, entrepreneurs, athletes and artists from all walks of life –
the Day-Date is instantly recognizable, in particular thanks to its emblematic President
bracelet, whose evocative name, together with the eminent figures who have worn it,
ensured the Day-Date became known as the ‘presidents’ watch’.
A symbol of prestige and personal accomplishment, the Day-Date has been championed
by numerous personalities who shape the world in their respective disciplines through
their commitment, performance, human qualities and creative genius.
Among the Rolex Testimonees associated with the Day-Date, we celebrate the
golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – known as The Big Three,
American skier Lindsey Vonn, Swiss tennis player Roger Federer and American
filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
FEATURES OF THE DAY-DATE
Watch of great prestige, available exclusively in 18 ct gold or 950 platinum
Instantaneous calendar displaying the day spelt out in full and the date
Superlative Chronometer certification, specific to Rolex
International five-year guarantee
Manufacture Rolex self-winding mechanical movement, COSC certified
Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring
High-performance Paraflex shock absorbers
36 or 40 mm Oyster case, waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet)
AND TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE
At its launch in 1956, the Day-Date was a major innovation: it was the first self-winding,
waterproof chronometer wristwatch to indicate, in addition to the date, the day of the
week spelt out in full in an arc-shaped window at 12 o’clock on the dial – a technical feat
at the time.
Made exclusively of precious metal – 18 ct yellow, white or Everose gold or 950 platinum –
and accompanied by its emblematic President bracelet, its multiple dials make it the ideal
canvas for self-expression.
It therefore represents the pinnacle of an ideal, combining prestige with the perpetual
quest for watchmaking excellence.
THE “MIRACLE OF MIDNIGHT”
AN IDEAL OF PRECISION
When midnight strikes, the day and date simultaneously change in their respective windows
on the dial. This watchmaking feat, the “miracle of midnight”, is the fruit of numerous years
of research: from 1950 to 1955 Rolex registered four patents for timepieces featuring an
indication of day and date.
The Day-Date is equipped with two discs that turn both instantaneously and simultaneously.
For the day and the date to change in a fraction of a second, the mechanism must accumulate enough energy to not only activate both discs at a precise moment, but also effectively impede them so that they only advance one day at a time.
THE PRESIDENT BRACELET
THE ELEGANCE OF DETAIL
Created specially for the launch of the prestigious Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in 1956,
the three-piece link President bracelet, made only from 18 ct gold or 950 platinum, is still
reserved exclusively for the Day-Date and precious metal versions of the Datejust.
The President bracelet is fitted with a concealed Crownclasp, opened with a hinged Rolex
crown – the final aesthetic and functional touch to this bracelet. It includes ceramic inserts
inside the links to enhance its flexibility and longevity. A concealed attachment system on
the bracelet ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case.
THE CHALLENGE OF PLATINUM
Since 2022, the Day-Date 40 in 950 platinum features a fluted bezel crafted from the same
precious material – a first for Rolex.
A cornerstone of the brand’s stylistic heritage, the fluted bezel initially had a functional
purpose: the fluting served to screw the bezel onto the case, helping to ensure the
waterproofness of the watch. New fixation techniques have since been developed and
the fluted bezel has become a purely aesthetic feature. Hitherto crafted exclusively from
18 ct gold, the Day-Date is now available in 950 platinum, the most prestigious metal in
A material with exceptional luminosity and a captivating white glow, platinum is
challenging to work with, especially when carrying out finishing. Rolex therefore came
up with an innovative new manufacturing process for creating a fluted bezel in 950
platinum. Producing fluting with the perfect shape and sparkling surfaces was a true
ROLEX’S UNIQUE EXPERTISE AT THE SERVICE OF A PRESTIGE WATCH
THE OYSTER CASE 36 OR 40 MM
SYMBOL OF WATERPROOFNESS
The Day-Date’s Oyster case, 36 or 40 mm in diameter and guaranteed waterproof to a
depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness and elegance. The middle case
is crafted from a solid block of either 18 ct gold or 950 platinum. The case back, edged
with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that grants only certified
Rolex watchmakers access to the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a
double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case. The bezel can
be fluted or set with diamonds. The date display at 3 o’clock is magnified by a Cyclops
lens on the crystal, which is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire and benefits from an
anti-reflective coating. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the
THE ROLEX FOUNDRY
MASTERING PRECIOUS METALS
Whether they are 18 ct yellow, white or Everose gold, the gold alloys of the Day-Date
are produced exclusively at the Rolex foundry.
In its pure 24 ct state, gold is too malleable to be a watch element, no matter the
component. To make it harder and improve its resistance, it must be alloyed with
other metals. This is the raison d’être of 18 ct gold, a precious alloy highly prized by
watchmakers. It is composed of 750‰ (thousandths) of pure gold. According to the
proportion of silver, copper, platinum or palladium added, different types of 18 ct gold
are obtained: yellow, pink or white.
The rigour of the melting process has considerable bearing on the final quality and
properties of an alloy. The role of the smelter is therefore of great importance in the
production of prestige watches in precious metal. This is the first step in the process of
producing middle cases, case backs, bezels and other bracelet components from gold.
PERPETUAL CALIBRE 3255
A MOVEMENT AT THE FOREFRONT OF WATCHMAKING TECHNOLOGY
The Day-Date 36 and Day-Date 40 are equipped with calibre 3255, a self-winding
mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate
demonstration of technology, this movement carries a number of patents. It offers
outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks,
convenience and reliability.
The oscillator of calibre 3255 has a large balance wheel with variable inertia regulated extremely precisely via gold Microstella nuts. It is held firmly in place by a height-adjustable traversing bridge enabling very stable positioning to increase shock resistance. The oscillator is also fitted on high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, designed by Rolex and patented.
This calibre incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, made of nickel-
phosphorus, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability and is also insensitive to magnetic fields.
Calibre 3255 is fitted with a self-winding module featuring a Perpetual rotor, which
ensures continuous winding of the mainspring by harnessing the movements of the wrist to provide a constant source of energy. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of this movement extends to approximately 70 hours.
The Day-Date’s movement will be seen only by certified Rolex watchmakers, yet it is beautifully finished and decorated in keeping with the brand’s uncompromising quality standards.
AN EXCLUSIVE HAIRSPRING FOR OPTIMUM STABILITY
Calibre 3255 features an optimized version of the blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured
by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. Insensitive to magnetic fields, the Parachrom hairspring
offers great stability in the face of temperature variations. It is equipped with a Rolex
overcoil, ensuring its regularity in any position.
While the Parachrom hairspring’s blue colour is a direct result of the surface treatment
process used since 2005 to enhance its stability, it also contributes to the prestige of
the watch. In the history of watchmaking, blued hairsprings have been reserved for the
movements of the most precise and exclusive timepieces.
THE DAY-DATE, SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER CERTIFIED
Like all Rolex watches, the Day-Date is covered by the Superlative Chronometer
certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation testifies that every
watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests
conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories and according to its own criteria. These
certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement,
guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve,
waterproofness and self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by
the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international
The precision of every movement – officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss
Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – is tested a second time by Rolex after
being cased, to ensure that it meets criteria that are far stricter than those of the official
certification. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2
seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is
significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement
The Superlative Chronometer certification testing is carried out after casing using
state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex and according to an exclusive
methodology that simulates the conditions in which a watch is actually worn and more
closely represents real-life experience. The entirely automated series of tests also checks
the waterproofness, the self-winding capacity and the power reserve of 100 per cent of
Rolex watches. These tests systematically complement the qualification testing during
development and production, in order to ensure the watches’ reliability, robustness, and
resistance to magnetism and shocks.