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Presidential Rolex: A Guide to the Iconic Day-Date Watch

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Guide
Presidential Rolex A Guide to the Iconic Day-Date Watch

Known officially as the Rolex Day-Date, the Presidential Rolex is not just a watch but a symbol of success, worn by influential figures, including US Presidents—hence its nickname. 

Crafted exclusively from precious metals and featuring the innovative day-date function, the Rolex Day-Date is a masterpiece of design and engineering.

This guide delves into the heart of what makes the Presidential Rolex an iconic watch, from its rich history and unique features to its esteemed status among the world’s elite.

Why the Rolex Day-Date is called “The President”

Rolex President

The nickname “The President” originated from its association with US Presidents, particularly Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States. 

Johnson famously wore the Day-Date during his presidency, which elevated the watch’s status and linked it to the White House. 

Following Johnson, other US Presidents like Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford also wore the Day-Date, reinforcing its reputation as the watch of presidents.

Beyond its political associations, the Day-Date is also a symbol of success and luxury, thanks to its use of precious metals like gold and platinum and its innovative features. Notably, it was the first watch to display both date and the day of the week in full. 

Additionally, it is exclusively crafted in precious metals and is paired with a special bracelet known as the Presidential bracelet, adding to its distinctiveness and appeal.

History and Significance

Launched in 1956, this remarkable timepiece quickly symbolized prestige and success in Rolex’s flagship collection. Its unique feature of displaying the day of the week in full, alongside the date, was a groundbreaking innovation at the time and set a new standard for luxury watches.

Significant Dates:

  • 1950s: Rolex builds a reputation for reliable, stylistically simple watches. The Datejust, released in 1945, was the main outlier with its date function.
  • 1956: Original models powered by Calibre 1055.
  • Late 1950s-1970s: Transition to Calibre 1555, then Calibre 1556 with a hacking seconds function.
  • 1970s-1980s: Introduction of Calibre 3055 with Single Quickset function, followed by Calibre 2155 with Double Quickset function during the quartz crisis.
  • 1980s-2000s: The Day-Date II grows to 41mm with Calibre 3156, introducing a larger size and enhanced power reserve.
  • 2008: The Day-Date II is launched with a 41mm case diameter, responding to calls for a larger version of the President.
  • 2015: The Day-Date 40 is introduced, returning to the more graceful proportions of the original design.

Design and Features

Day-Date 36 Ref. 118238 and Day-Date 36 Ref. 128345RBR

The Rolex President Day-Date is exclusively crafted in precious metals. This timepiece is renowned for its distinctive day and date display, with the day fully spelled out at the 12 o’clock position and the date at the 3 o’clock position, magnified by a classic Rolex Cyclops lens for easy readability.

One of the most iconic features of the Day-Date is its President bracelet, characterized by its semi-circular, three-piece links. This bracelet is a mark of elegance and ensures a comfortable fit on the wrist. It’s made from the same high-quality materials as the watch case, creating a seamless and luxurious aesthetic.

Materials:

  • 18k yellow
  • White gold
  • Everose gold
  • Platinum

Among the prestigious models are the Rolex Day-Date 40mm in 18k yellow gold (Ref. 228238) and the Rolex Day-Date 40mm in platinum (Ref. 228206).

Dial:

  • Simple, monochromatic designs such as Day-Date 36 Ref. 118238 with a classic champagne dial.
  • Intricate dials adorned with diamonds or other precious stones such as Day-Date 36 Ref. 128345RBR with a diamond-set bezel and unique Eisenkiesel quartz dial.

Size:

Over the years, the Day-Date has seen variations in size to cater to evolving tastes. 

  • Originally launched with a 36mm case.
  • Adapted to modern preferences by introducing the Day-Date II at 41mm.
  • More recently, introduced the Day-Date 40 at 40mm.

Innovations and Movements

The movements powering the Day-Date have consistently been certified by the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC), affirming Rolex’s dedication to precision.

In its early years, the Day-Date was equipped with the Caliber 1055 movement, which featured a Microstella regulating system for enhanced accuracy. This era also marked the debut of the term “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” on the Day-Date’s dial, indicating a level of accuracy surpassing the standard COSC certification.

Caliber 3055 movement

The 1970s saw the introduction of the Caliber 3055 movement, which included a quick-set date feature, allowing for more convenient date adjustments. This innovation was further improved in the late 1980s with the Caliber 3155 movement, which introduced the double quick-set feature for independent adjustments of both the day and date displays.

The Day-Date II, launched in 2008, featured a larger 41mm case and the new Caliber 3156 movement, equipped with a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers for increased shock and magnetic resistance. The latest advancement came in 2015 with the Day-Date 40, powered by the Caliber 3255 movement. This movement boasts 14 patents, including the Chronergy escapement, which enhances escapement efficiency by 15%, and offers a 70-hour power reserve.

Notable Wearers

President Lyndon B. Johnson

One of the most notable wearers of the Day-Date was President Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th President of the United States. It was during his presidency in 1965 that the Day-Date earned its nickname “the Rolex Presidential” or “the President’s Watch,” as Johnson prominently wore his favorite yellow gold Day-Date. 

JFK

Another U.S. president linked to the Rolex Day-Date, albeit in a more controversial manner, was President John F. Kennedy. It is said that for his birthday in May 1962, JFK received a Rolex watch from Marilyn Monroe. The watch in question was a Rolex Day-Date with an engraving that read: “Jack, With love as always, Marilyn, May 29th, 1962.” 

Victoria Beckham

Some notable wearers include Jay-Z, the music mogul and entrepreneur, has been spotted with a platinum Rolex Day-Date, showcasing his preference for luxurious and iconic timepieces. Roger Federer, the tennis legend, is known for his collection of Rolex watches, including the Day-Date. Victoria Beckham, the fashion designer and former Spice Girl, has been seen wearing a gold Rolex Day-Date.

Lastly, Jack Nicklaus, the legendary golfer who won 18 major championships. He owns two yellow gold Rolex Day-Date watches and is known for auctioning off one of them, which sold for $1.2 million.

Buying Guide

When deciding to buy a Rolex President, you can choose between a new or a pre-owned model.

Buying a new Rolex President means you’re the first owner. You get a brand-new watch with the latest design and a full warranty. However, new watches are more expensive and lose value once you buy them.

On the other hand, a pre-owned Rolex President is cheaper because it has already lost some value. You might find a vintage or unique style you like. But, you need to check if the watch is real and in good shape. Also, it might not have a warranty anymore.

Here’s a table summarizing the features and prices of some popular Rolex Day-Date models, both pre-owned and retail:

Model NumberFeaturesPre-Owned Price Retail Price 
Day-Date 36 Ref. 11823836mm, 18k yellow gold, fluted bezel, President braceletS$31,253S$45,000
Day-Date 36 Ref. 12823936mm, 18k white gold, fluted bezel, various dial optionsS$45,914S$55,600
Day-Date 40 Ref. 22823940mm, white gold, blue dial, Roman numerals, Rolex caliber 3255 movement, sapphire crystal, water-resistant up to 100mS$55,155S$60,900
Day-Date 40 Ref. 22823840mm, yellow gold, black dial, stick/dot indexes, yellow gold braceletS$53,679S$56,500
Day-Date 36 Ref. 128345RBR36mm, everose gold, diamond-set bezel, Eisenkiesel quartz dial, President-Diamond braceletS$84,093S$77,300

Comparison with Other Luxury Watches

The Rolex President occupies a unique position in the luxury watch market, characterized by its prestigious reputation, iconic design, and rich history. 

Here’s a comparison with other luxury watches to illustrate its distinct qualities:

Watch ModelKey FeaturesStyleRetail Price Pre-Owned Price
Rolex Day-Date (President)Day and date display, classic design, precious metalsClassic, Formal, LuxuryS$54,677S$65,900
Patek Philippe NautilusPorthole-shaped case, sporty yet elegantSporty-LuxuryS$144,900S$255,800
Audemars Piguet Royal OakOctagonal bezel, bold designSporty, Bold, Luxury$37,300S$39,900
Omega Constellation“Claws” on the bezel, integrated braceletElegant, LuxuryS$5,900S$2,513
Cartier SantosSquare case, visible screws on bezelAvant-Garde, ElegantS$10,300S$8,900
Jaeger-LeCoultre ReversoReversible case, Art Deco designClassic, Innovative, Art DecoS$9,400S$6,610

FAQs

1. What makes Rolex a presidential?

Rolex was coined “Presidential” due to its association with US Presidents, starting with Lyndon B. Johnson, who famously wore the Rolex Day-Date during his presidency. This connection to influential figures and the watch’s luxurious design and features, such as the day and date display, have earned it the nickname “The President.”

2. What is the difference between Rolex Datejust and President?

The Datejust typically comes in various materials, including stainless steel, and features a date display at 3 o’clock. On the other hand, the President is exclusively made of precious metals like gold or platinum and has a day and date display. Additionally, the President features a distinctive bracelet known as the “President bracelet,” while the Datejust is often paired with the Jubilee or Oyster bracelet.

3. Is a presidential Rolex solid gold?

Yes, the Rolex Presidential is always crafted from precious metals, either solid 18k gold (yellow, white, or rose gold) or 950 platinum. The gold used in these watches is 18-carat, produced by Rolex’s in-house foundry.

Closing

The Rolex Presidential watch, also known as the Rolex Day Date watch, is a timepiece that epitomizes luxury, innovation, and prestige. Its rich history, unique design features, and association with influential figures have solidified its position as a symbol of success and elegance in the luxury watch market.

Key Takeaways

  • The Rolex President, also known as the Day-Date, earned its name due to its popularity among US Presidents, starting with Lyndon B. Johnson. Its association with world leaders has cemented its status as a symbol of success and power.
  • The Rolex President watch is made exclusively from precious metals: 18k yellow, white, and Everose gold, plus platinum, emphasizing its luxury status and enduring elegance.
  • The Rolex President commands a premium price due to its luxurious materials and esteemed reputation. It is not only a timepiece but also an investment, with its value often appreciating over time. The current pre-owned models range from S$12,599 to S$159,683.

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