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Rolex Day-Date: The Presidential Watch
The Rolex Day-Date is synonymous with luxury, prestige, and power. Also known as the "President Watch," it displays the date and the day written out in full. It is only available in gold or platinum, making it a fantastic investment.
An Investment in the Day and Date
Rolex unveiled the original Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in 1956. It was the first wristwatch to ever feature both the date and the unabbreviated day of the week on its dial, thus underscoring the Genevan company's role as an innovator in the industry. Furthermore, Rolex released this model alongside the then-new "President" bracelet. This bracelet combines the Oyster bracelet's three-piece link look with the hemispherical-shaped links made famous by the Datejust and its Jubilee bracelet.
The Datejust debuted seven years before the Day-Date, and the two models are strikingly similar. Both have an Oyster case, a narrow fluted bezel, a simple dial, and a Cyclops lens above the date display at 3 o'clock. However, thanks to its day display at 12 o'clock and President bracelet, there's no mistaking the Day-Date for its closely-related cousin. Another difference is the range of materials, as the Day-Date is only available in precious metals like platinum and yellow, white, or rose gold.
The Rolex Day-Date has appeared in all sorts of configurations over the years. From different dial colors and designs and varying case sizes to models with or without diamonds, there's something for everyone. Watches with a 36-mm case leave an especially classic impression, while the 40-mm editions exude a somewhat sportier feel.
Virtually all Day-Date models have performed well financially in recent years and have evolved into alternative investment pieces as a result. Leading the way is the platinum ref. 228396TBR which features a diamond-set bezel. This luxury watch appreciated by an eye-watering 90% between 2020 and 2022. It's no outlier, however, with other references also experiencing an increase in value and appreciating by between 15% to over 70%.
Reasons to Buy a Rolex Day-Date
- Available exclusively in 18-karat gold or platinum
- Date display, and day of the week written out in full
- Three-piece link President bracelet
- In-house caliber 3255 with a 70-hour power reserve
- Prestigious timepiece with high potential to appreciate in value
Prices: Rolex Day-Date
|Day-Date ref.||Value appreciation,* price (approx.)||Features|
|228396TBR||92%, 177,500 USD||40 mm, platinum case, diamond bezel, caliber 3255|
|218206||72%, 82,000 USD||41 mm, platinum case, polished bezel, caliber 3156|
|218239||67%, 48,000 USD||41 mm, white gold case, fluted bezel, caliber 3156|
|128345RBR||58%, 132,000 USD||36 mm; rose gold case; diamonds on the dial, bezel, and bracelet; sapphire indices; caliber 3255|
|128235||18%, 44,500 USD||36 mm, rose gold case, fluted bezel, caliber 3255|
|228238||17%, 51,500 USD||40 mm, yellow gold case, fluted bezel, caliber 3255|
|18078||15%, 18,000 USD||36 mm, yellow gold case, "bark" bezel, diamond indices, caliber 3055|
|118206||±0%, 45,000 USD||36 mm, platinum case, polished bezel, caliber 3155|
|6612||±0%, 17,500 USD||36 mm, yellow gold case, fluted bezel, caliber 1055|
|*between June 2020 and June 2022|
How much does a Rolex Day-Date cost?
Vintage Day-Dates from the 1970s change hands for as little as 8,100 USD. If you're looking for an Oysterquartz Day-Date or a Day-Date Bark from the late 70s and early 80s, be prepared to spend some 3,000 to 4,000 USD more.
Models from the current collection require a significantly larger investment. The 40-mm white gold ref. 228239 is one such watch, with the blue dial version costing over 50,000 USD. If you're looking for a slightly smaller watch, the yellow gold Day-Date ref. 128238 measures 36 mm in diameter, has a champagne dial, and requires an investment of around 48,000 USD.
Fans of platinum should take a look at the ref. 21820. This 41-mm timepiece features a polished bezel and changes hands for over 80,000 USD in mint condition. Those who want to push the envelope for a highly exclusive Rolex model will love the ref. 228396TBR. This model is especially striking thanks to its icy blue dial and diamond-studded bezel, and has a hefty price tag of around 178,000 USD.
The Day-Date 36 in Detail
Since its launch in 1956, the standard size for the Day-Date line has been 36 mm. Rolex also offers models of the current version of this iconic dress watch with this diameter. Visually, these watches are almost identical, but the current version houses the state-of-the-art in-house caliber 3255. This certified Superlative Chronometer boasts Rolex's proprietary Chronergy escapement, which provides the watch with its 70-hour power reserve. Another technical highlight in this high-precision movement is its blue Parachrom hairspring.
If you'd like a modern watch with the classic Day-Date design, you should take a closer look at the Day-Date 36 ref. 128238. It comes with a yellow gold case and a fluted bezel. Like the rest of the collection, this model is available in a wide range of options. There's everything from simple versions with golden sunburst dials and stick indices to luxurious watches with diamond-studded bezels and colorful sapphire indices. Prices for more modest timepieces begin at around 40,500 USD.
Rainbow, gemstone-encrusted editions, on the other hand, were selling for around 67,000 USD at the time of writing in June 2022. Two years ago, this amount was around 20,000 USD less, which corresponds to an appreciation of 42%.
Other popular variants of the ref. 128238 feature "ombré dials" that go from light in the middle to dark around the edges. They also use diamond indices to mark the hours. Color options include green and chocolate brown. Plan to spend roughly 61,000 USD on one of these timepieces.
Rolex also offers a wide variety of white and rose gold Day-Date 36 models. One example is the white gold ref. 128239 with a blue ombré dial. This watch typically costs around 51,000 USD and appreciated by 66% between June 2020 and June 2022.
The rose gold ref. 128345RBR exudes opulence on account of its intricate details. It has a mother-of-pearl dial and diamond indices. Precious gems also adorn its bezel and the middle links of its Oyster bracelet. This exquisite timepiece requires an investment of around 133,000 USD. In June 2020, this watch changed hands for around 81,000 USD.
New Day-Date 36 Releases
Rolex launched new Day-Date 36 models in 2021 and 2022. The ref. 128235, with a fluted bezel, white dial, and Roman indices, is popular among those looking for a refined design. This watch's case, President bracelet, and indices are crafted in 18-karat rose gold. Listings for this reference on Chrono24 come in at around 44,500 USD, while Rolex demands 36,850 USD.
The case and President bracelet of the ref. 128239 are made of white gold. The version with a white dial sells for around 38,500 USD. You can also opt for a white gold version with a blue dial and diamond indices, but this timepiece requires a slightly higher investment of 42,000 USD.
Reference numbers 128396TBR and 128236 were brought to market in 2022 and are made of platinum. The former features a dazzling diamond-set bezel, whereas the bezel on the latter is fluted for a more classic look. Both versions share a blue dial and the caliber 3255, but differ again when it comes to indices. If you prefer stick hour markers, you should choose the ref. 128396TBR. If Roman hour markers are more to your taste, check out the ref. 128236. At the time of writing in June 2022, there were no listings for these two watches on the Chrono24 marketplace. Rolex only discloses their MSRP on request.
The Day-Date 36 With the Caliber 3155
Rolex equipped the Day-Date 36 with the caliber 3155 until 2019. This movement debuted in 1988 and, like all Rolex calibers, comes with chronometer certification from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). It also has a 48-hour power reserve and a double quickset function that enables you to set the day and date independently of the time.
The selection of different Day-Date 36 models with the caliber 3155 is even larger than that of watches with the modern caliber 3255. This is mostly due to the fact that Rolex formerly produced versions with polished bezels in addition to the familiar editions with fluted or diamond-studded bezels. What's more, you can also choose from watches on an Oyster bracelet or leather strap.
The ref. 118135 and ref. 118205 are great examples. Both are made of Rolex's proprietary rose gold alloy – known as Everose gold – and feature a chocolate brown dial. While the ref. 118135 has a fluted bezel and black crocodile leather strap, the bezel on the ref. 118205 is polished, and the watch comes on an 18-karat Everose gold Oyster bracelet. Prices range between 24,500 USD and 40,500 USD, depending on the configuration. Once again, prices have risen considerably between June 2020 and June 2022. The ref. 118205 performed the best, appreciating by around 54%.
The Day-Date 36 Bark
Rolex produced so-called "Bark" versions of the Day-Date 36 from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. These models stand out thanks to the texture of their bezels and middle links, which are finished to resemble tree bark. Most "Bark" watches are yellow gold, and select timepieces also boast bold dials designed to mimic wood grain.
Older references like the 1807 get their power from the caliber 1556 and sell on Chrono24 for about 14,000 USD in good condition. The 1980s saw the release of models like the ref. 18248, which has diamond indices and uses the caliber 3155. You can call one of these watches your own for around 19,500 USD. Watches powered by the caliber 3055, such as the ref. 18078, demand roughly 15,500 USD.
The Day-Date II and Day-Date 40
Calls for a larger, more contemporary Day-Date were growing ever louder after the turn of the millennium. Rolex eventually responded in 2008 by releasing the Day-Date II, which measures 41 mm in diameter. In addition to a larger size, the Day-Date II came with a new caliber: the 3156. This movement features a blue Parachrom hairspring and Rolex's Paraflex anti-shock system. The white gold Day-Date II ref. 218239 with a silver dial cost around 48,000 USD in June 2022. If we look back at this model's performance, we see a value appreciation of 80% in just two years.
In 2015, Rolex replaced the Day-Date II with the Day-Date 40. As its name implies, this version is only 40 mm in diameter. The manufacturer outfits this watch with the caliber 3255, which has a 70-hour power reserve.
If you are interested in buying the ref. 228238 in 18-karat yellow gold in mint condition, you'll need to have around 52,000 USD on hand. This model has increased in value by 17% in the last two years.
Fans of colorful watches should take a closer look at the ref. 228235. This Day-Date 40 pairs a rose gold case with an olive green sunburst dial and Roman numerals. Never-worn versions sell for approximately 78,500 USD. Between June 2020 and June 2022, this Day-Date watch appreciated by no less than 126%.
The Day-Date collection's true highlights are the models crafted from 950 platinum, a precious metal even rarer than gold. The reference number 228396TBR is especially striking thanks to its icy blue, diamond-paved dial and diamond-studded bezel. This platinum Rolex Day-Date 40 cost around 177,000 USD in mint condition in June 2022, and is thus 92% more valuable than it was in 2020.
The ref. 228239 comes with a case and President bracelet made of 18-karat white gold and has an especially classic feel. This watch has a slate gray dial with bar indices, which are also made of white gold. The tried-and-true Rolex in-house caliber 3255 ticks away inside the case. Expect to pay around 59,000 USD for a new piece. Rolex lists this timepiece for around 38,000 USD.
New Day-Date 40 Models in 2022
At the beginning of 2022, Rolex presented four new Day-Date 40 models. The yellow gold ref. 228238 is available in two different dial designs. You can choose between a green dial with Roman indices, or a black dial with stick indices. The ref. 228398TBR is also a yellow gold watch, but its dial and bezel are encrusted with diamonds. The ref. 228236, on the other hand, is a platinum Day-Date with an ice blue dial and Roman indices. Rolex also outfits these new watches with the in-house caliber 3255.
As with the Day-Date 36, there were no new references listed on the Chrono24 marketplace in June 2022, and Rolex plays their cards close to their chest: "Price on request."
Vintage Rolex Day-Date Models
Due to the collection's long history, there are many vintage Day-Date models on the market. Collectors and Rolex enthusiasts are particularly interested in watches from the 1950s and 60s. These timepieces house the caliber 1055. One such watch is the yellow gold ref. 6611 which has a matching gold dial. It is worn on a leather strap and costs around 20,000 USD in good condition. Another popular option is the ref. 6612. This yellow gold timepiece comes with a polished bezel and silver dial. You can purchase this edition on a yellow gold President bracelet for about 18,500 USD.
Models from the 1970s sell for similar prices on Chrono24. For example, the yellow gold ref. 1803 changes hands for roughly 12,000 USD. The caliber 1556 ticks away inside its case and, unlike the previous caliber, features a stop-seconds mechanism. Rolex introduced the caliber 3055 in the late 70s, which has a quickset date function. This movement appears in Day-Date watches such as the ref. 18038, another yellow gold watch with a gold dial. This model requires an investment of around 18,000 USD.
The quartz crisis of the 1970s and 80s prompted Rolex to produce quartz-powered Day-Dates in 1977. You can easily recognize these models, including the white gold ref. 19019, thanks to their more angular cases and the word "Oysterquartz" inscribed on their dials. These watches are fairly rare and popular among collectors. You can find well-maintained examples on Chrono24 for about 30,500 USD.
Ticking Away Since 2015: Rolex Day-Date Caliber 3255
Rolex has used their in-house caliber 3255 in the Day-Date since 2015. This movement is protected by 14 patents. The manufacturer's engineers reworked and optimized more than 90% of the caliber's components. For example, they shrunk the barrel's thickness by 50%, thus making room for a higher-capacity spring.
Thanks to Rolex's highly efficient Chronergy escapement, the movement has an impressive power reserve of 70 hours. This means you can set the watch aside over the weekend and it will still be ticking come Monday morning. The Chronergy escapement is made of a nickel-phosphorus alloy and improves upon the conventional Swiss anchor escapement. Thanks to this material, the movement is not affected by magnetic fields. The manufacturer also claims that this escapement makes the watch 15% more efficient.
At the core of the movement is the classic Rolex blue Parachrom hairspring, which ticks at 28,800 vibrations per hour. It is made from a niobium-zirconium alloy and, like the escapement, is resistant to the effects of magnetic fields. According to the manufacturer, it is also up to ten times more precise than other movements when subjected to jolts. Furthermore, the balance spring's final coil is raised and oval-shaped. This detail is known as the "Breguet overcoil" and helps improve the movement's accuracy.
Microstella nuts on the inner side of the balance wheel enable watchmakers to regulate the movement. Every Rolex caliber comes with certification from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). The caliber 3255 also undergoes internal testing that subjects it to more realistic conditions. The manufacturer claims that this process' criteria are twice as strict as those of the official testing authorities.