Rolex President: The Ultimate Guide to Rolex Day-Date
If you know a tiny bit about wristwatches, chances are, you have heard about the Rolex President.
Over the course of its history, it has established itself as one of the most iconic and prestigious timepieces in the world, as worn by many leaders and influential individuals.
The Rolex President is what is also called the Rolex Day-Date.
Background and history of the Rolex Day-Date
The Rolex Day-Date holds a very special and important place in Rolex’s collection of watches. Originally launched as the Day-date, the model has come to acquire the nickname ”President” or ”presidential”. It’s not very difficult to guess where this name derives from as it has adorned the wrists of some of the most well-known, powerful leaders and influential individuals of the 20th century. Rolex describes the watch as ”The Ultimate Prestige Watch”.
The President quickly became a status symbol and a watch of prestige upon its launch in 1956. This watch became the first watch to display the day and the week on the dial. And this of course, as the name suggests, displays both day and date, and this feature came in really handy for the world’s leaders. To use more advanced terminology, the Rolex President or Day-Date became upon its launch the first waterproof and self-winding chronometer wristwatch to offer a modern calendar with an instantaneous day display, spelled out in full in a window on the dial, in addition to the date.
Since its release, the Day-Date has only been manufactured in precious metals, which means 18k gold and 750 platinum. Today, the Rolex President is available in Everest gold, White gold, yellow gold. And platinum of course.
There is one exception, though, the ref.6611 which was made in stainless steel. This is one of the rarest Rolex watches to date as only six were produced.
Chronology of the Day-Date, from left to right, ref. 6511, ref. 6611, ref. 18xx and ref. 18xxx.only six were produced. Photo: Monochrome Watches
There can be many explanations as to why some of the world’s most powerful individuals over the course of history have chosen the Rolex President, but one explanation is, as mentioned, the practical functions, and of course, the fact that gold wristwatches meant a great deal of prestige back in the days. Then, of course, a gold wristwatch looks really good together with a suit.
Rolex President: People who have worn it
The people who have worn the Rolex Day-Date have had a huge impact on the prestige and reputation of this model.
The watch has been gifted and/or worn by an array of American presidents over the course of history, and it has also been the watch of choice for some of the world’s most iconic and famous leaders and decision-makers in the world.
And when it comes to the Rolex Day-Date, Rolex has not held back when it comes to bold statements in its advertising. As mentioned, the people who have worn the watch have played a key role here. Rolex confidently states ”The Rolex Day-Date has been worn by more presidents, leaders, and visionaires than any other watch”. That’s a pretty confident and bold statement. But at the same time, no one is arguing it.
These are some of the Rolex Day-Date advertisements Rolex produced back in the day:
As you can see, these advertisements have always been quite bold and confident about the prestige of a Rolex Day-Date.
When it comes to presidents who have worn the watch, President Johnson is a person who is very closely associated with his Rolex Day-Date. At the time of his presidency, he received his Day-Date. He was also known for giving away Rolex watches as gifts.
Another individual is President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Rolex Day-Date earned the nickname the “President” when Rolex gave one to then President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower. But you’ll be surprised to hear that he never actually owned a Rolex Day-Date.
Rolex gave its 50,000th watch to General Henri Guisan and its 100,000th watch to Winston Churchill, Rolex contacted General Eisenhower offering him the company’s 150,000th creation. This was an 18k gold Rolex Datejust, not a Day-Date, but while it was not a Day-Date, it shared several features with the modern Rolex President as its case was in yellow and it came on an 18k yellow gold Jubilee bracelet.
Another interesting story is in May of 1962 when John F. Kennedy received a Day-Date as a birthday gift from Marilyn Monroe. The watch was engraved “With love as always.”, but Kennedy’s response was “get rid of it.”, as we wanted to avoid a public scandal.
It has also been reported that Johnson, Ford, Reagan, Nixon to Roosevelt, all were proud wearers of the Day-Date.
The Rolex President ”Day-Date” as a watch
Let’s look closer at the watch itself, not the people who wore it.
The defining feature of this watch is, of course, the fact that it has a ”Day” window for displaying the day of the week written out.
In a 1963 Rolex catalog, we can read that the calendar existed in eleven languages, in 1979 in 24 languages, and in 1985 in 25 different languages. Today, the Day disc on the Rolex Day-Date is available in 26 languages.
In its design, the Rolex President is quite distinct and iconic. A very iconic feature today is the Presidential bracelet, but more on this further on.
bracelet with rounded three-piece links, created in 1956 in the occasion of the launch of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, and realized only in 18-carat gold and in platinum. The first versions of the Rolex Day-Date launched on the international market were the references 6510 and 6511. Both references have the caliber 1055.
As a result of the complexity of the watch and its automatic movement, additional discs, and a screw-down back were added. Because of this, the early Day-Date watches were perceived as quite bulky based on the time’s watch standard. But it did boast a water resistance of up to 165 feet but in Rolex’s pursuit of perfection, they eventually came to refine and improve the case shape and bulkiness. This is also something that many Day-Date owners become surprised about as you don’t expect to be able to swim with an elegant and dressy watch like the Day-Date.
Later on, Rolex released the Day-Date reference 6611 which offers a water resistance of 100 feet.
To satisfy all the different tastes of its customers, Rolex has made the President in a wide variety of iterations and dial options. From different metal types to different dial options.
In modern times, you can find very discreet Day-Dates in the form of white gold and toned-down dials, but on the other side of the spectrum, you can find bright full yellow gold pieces with bright dials adorned with dials.
In other words, there is a Rolex President for everyone.
When it comes to function, in 1972, an important update came to the Date-Date. The new update meant allowing wearers to stop the second hand if they wanted to reset the time (also known as hacking seconds/hacking hand). When stopping the seconds hand, you are of course able to set the time more accurately.
Furthermore, in the 1970s, Rolex introduced the ”Quickset” feature for the President’s watch. the quick-set was added to all Rolex models by 1983, and today, the quickset feature is still implemented into all of Rolex’s watches with a date function. What it allows is for the crown to be easily pulled out to readjust the date. There is no need to turn the entire crown in order to change the date.
During this period of time, Rolex also introduced sapphire crystal to the model as opposed to plexiglass. The sapphire crystal is more suitable for the Day-Date model, both because it looks more elegant and less robust than a plexiglass crystal. Furthermore, at the time of introduction, the sapphire crystal fitted tighter than the plastic glass used.
In 1977, Rolex introduced the new caliber 3055, which changed the reference number from four to five digits. As you know if you have read our guide on Rolex reference numbers, the last number indicates the material of the case. Furthermore, at the period of the quartz crisis, Rolex also launches the Oysterquartz Day-Date and several references were created in the following years. In terms of Oysterquartz watches, you can find the following references: 18026, 18028, 18038, 18039, 18046, 18048, 18049, 18078, 18079, 18168, 18108, 18039Bic, 18129Bic
A new generation caliber was released in 1998 – the caliber 3155. This accompanies both the series 18200 and 18300.
The Double Quick-Set Day-Date
Another big introduction at the end of the 1990s was the ”Double Quick-Set” feature. This function was introduced with the reference number 18238.
The double quick-set means that you can set Day and Date independently from each other and the time.
At the end of 2000, Rolex reintroduced the Day-Date in rose gold and also with a domed sapphire mineral glass.
Rolex Day-Date II
At Baselworld 2008, Rolex released a hefty new Day-Date with a 41mm case. a 41mm case can be seen as a lot for a full gold watch that is meant to be slightly dressy and elegant.
And indeed it is. The 41mm case reflected the trend of moving towards larger watches at the time, but the market deemed it too big over time, and it did not become a huge hit. This is why in 2015, Rolex presented the new generation of Day-Date: the Day-Date 40 with the new caliber 3255. This watch features a 40mm case and is much more well-received.
Rolex President bracelet
Rolex does not tend to use nicknames that the general mass comes up with for their watches (for example Hulk, Pepsi, Kermit, etc.), but one name that Rolex has embraced is ”President”.
But not in the way you would think.
The watch is still named Day-Date, and Rolex does not present it as the ”President”.
Today, Rolex sometimes refers to the model as ”the Presidents’ watch”, but never simply as the president.
However, in 1969, the watch introduced a concealed clasp and became known more prominently as the President. Today, that bracelet is named ”president bracelet”. The Rolex President bracelet
Rolex Day-Date Languages
The “day wheel” on the Day-Date President is available in the following 26 languages: English, Spanish, Arabic, German, Chinese, Danish, Basque, Catalan, Ethiopian, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Dutch, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Moroccan, Norwegian, Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Turkish.
Rolex Day-Date reference numbers
How much is a Rolex President?
Of course, the price of a Rolex president varies a lot. Most importantly, it depends on the model, which there are many of as you will see below. This also includes things like metal type, dial variation, and year.
However, if we are to talk about recommended retail prices, the Day-Date retail price varies between roughly €29,000 up to more than 100,000 euros for the most expensive platinum model.
It’s difficult to say a general price for older references as it varies so much, but if you are looking for a Day-Date, you can expect to pay at least €10.000.
Rolex President Day-Date models
The first Rolex Day-Date has the reference 6511. There were several versions of this reference, but it is said that this model had a flawed movement as the day and date change caused the movement to perform poorly.
It is said that the 6511 was released in 1955, which is the same year that the patent was filed. However, these watches were only delivered to the Italians.
Rolex Day-Date reference numbers
(in no particular order)
In 1959, the 1800-generation was released. It was powered by calibre 1555. The model was officially released on September 1st, 1960.
The reference 1831 was made in platinum only. This is said to be made in no more than 8 examples as a custom order in platinum only.
The 18000 generation was released in 19798 and powered by calibre 3055. This is the first Day-Date to feature the quick-set date. This generation was the first to see the Tridor or BIC.
After roughly only a year the 6511 got replaced with the nearly identical Rolex Day-Date 6611 in 1957. The difference was that the model was fitted with the free-sprung balance calibre 1055.