The Top 10 Rolex Day-Date Dials
The Day-Date has been Rolex’s most aspirational model since its introduction in 1956. One-upping the revolutionary Datejust by adding a second calendar complication, it was the first watch ever made to display the day of the week spelled out in full.
Unashamedly elitist, it has never been crafted in anything other than the finest precious metals, and has long been the go-to timepiece for the world’s highest achievers. While its early life was spent on the wrists of world leaders and boardroom czars, these days you are just as likely to find it worn by hip hop moguls or heavyweight champions—everyone who has ‘made it’ wants a Rolex Day-Date.
Now comfortably into its seventh decade, the watch they call the President has been issued with an almost inexhaustible range of dials, with enough variety to cater to the sensibilities of its massively diverse fan base. Whether sober and solemn or brash and flamboyant, there is a perfect option available.
Below, we have picked out our Top 10 Rolex Day-Date dials.
Ah, the 70s! The decade that brought us bell bottoms, platform shoes and tie-dye was also the era that removed a little of the starch from the Day-Date’s shirt.
Originally targeted at the Middle East market, the so-called Stella dials were finished in a range of unearthly bright and lurid colors, ranging from pink to orange and turquoise to green.
Seeing such unorthodox faces on that most establishment-friendly watch has a refreshing but slightly jarring effect, akin to John Lennon giving his Rolls Royce the psychedelic once-over.
Invigorating as they were, they didn’t really catch on at the time and so lived a relatively short life. However, in 2013 Rolex clearly felt the time was ripe for a revival and the current collection is also now home to some strikingly vivid shades.
Ice Blue Dial
The ice blue dial Day-Dates are renowned among the modern lineup partly for the dial itself and partly because of what it represents.
It is a color Rolex reserve for those models forged from their own alloy of 950 platinum, one of the densest, heaviest and most valuable metals on earth.
Although at first glance it could be mistaken for stainless steel or white gold, a more thorough examination reveals a lustrous silvery white like no other metal.
The beautiful glacial face is the perfect complement to all that opulence, resulting in a watch that oozes sumptuous class.
Both the Day-Date and the Datejust were given wood dials in the 70s (there we go with the 70s again!). Thin slivers of burls taken from walnut, mahogany and birch trees, each one with its own unique grain, made sure no two models were exactly alike.
On the Day-Date though the wood theme was taken a step further, with some pieces also fitted with bezels and bracelets finished with a bark texture.
Definitely a 70s look, but one that is starting to attract attention again on the vintage market.
The Champagne Dial
Although not as unusual as some on this list, no roundup of the top 10 President dials is complete without the absolutely unequivocal Rolex visual, the champagne dial. It has been an option for the Day-Date since the very first reference, the ref. 6510 and, set in a solid yellow gold case, gives the look that screams the brand’s name louder than just about any other.
The fortunes of yellow gold fluctuate on the whims of fashion, and the 90s and early 2000s saw the aesthetic lumbered with the label of ostentation, not helped by the Wall Street yuppies of the 80s. But as with all things, the circular nature of trends has seen both the metal and the champagne dial find favor once again.
The Anniversary Dial
No one enjoys a birthday party more than Rolex and when the Day-Date hit 60 in 2016, the brand decided to celebrate by releasing a version of their flagship model with a dial in trademark dark green.
It is an important color for the brand, not only used in their own logo but also finding its way onto other anniversary pieces, most notably on the Submariner when it clocked up its half century. But while the bezel on that watch was a bright emerald, and the follow-up a few years later added a dial in the same shade, the green hue on the Day-Date perfectly matches the more restrained Rolex insignia.
Still available in the current portfolio, the anniversary dial can be had on a platinum, or white or Everose gold case.
Mother-of-pearl has long been used by many manufacturers of high end luxury goods, for both its visual attractiveness and its one-of-a-kind nature. Extracted from the thin inner layer of mollusk shells, particularly oysters, the smoothly iridescent material’s intensity, color and pattern differ depending on which part of the shell it is extracted from.
At Rolex it has been used to form watch dials for decades and is found extensively across a range of different models. But its inherent exclusivity means it is the perfect fit for that most select model, the Day-Date. Never artificially dyed, the brand uses only natural mother-of-pearl in pink, yellow, black and white to create their unique specimens.
Rolex was one of the first pioneers of the Arabic dial, and were making versions of the Day-Date with both the numerals and weekday spelled out in Arabic script as early as the late 1950s.
Obviously tailored to appeal to the vastly wealthy oil market in the Middle East, they proved to be an exceptionally popular addition.
With the Islamic religion forbidding men from wearing gold, they were most usually fitted to platinum cases, and continued to be highly sought after until they disappeared from the catalog somewhere around the early 1980s.
However, they were revived in 2016 when a new example of the Day-Date 40 was unveiled, again in platinum with its ice blue dial, complete with Arabic text.
Lapis Lazuli Dial
Lapis Lazuli is a metamorphic rock with a stunning rich blue coloring that has been used in jewelry since around 7,000BC. Ground into powder it becomes ultramarine, the most expensive of the blue pigments, widely employed by renaissance painters such as Titian and Raphael.
For Rolex, the hard stone is particularly challenging to work with—finding a sample of sufficient quality and then cutting a thin enough slice requires expert craftsmanship.
The results are watch dials of exquisite vibrancy, most often fitted to Day-Date and Datejust models, frequently with diamond indexes.
Rolex’s army of gemologists are second to none, and recent years have seen them turned loose to create incredibly intricate and attention-grabbing works.
2019 brought the emergence of possibly the most wild and colorful versions of the Day-Date so far, with a trio of full-on blinged-up creations, one in each flavor of gold.
The ref. 128349RBR (that’s the white gold one; 128348RBR is yellow gold, and ref. 128345RBR is in Everose), all 36mm models, have dials, bezels and bracelet center links positively festooned in diamonds.
In addition, the hour markers are made up of a range of differently colored sapphires, as we first saw recently in the striking Rainbow Daytona, giving the whole watch an even greater sparkle.
Definitely not one for the shy and retiring, or anyone on a tight budget, it is a Day-Date destined to get you noticed.
Pink Opal Dial
There was a time when the Day-Date was the archetypal man’s watch. Those days are now behind us. More and more women have taken to wearing the President, with a 36mm or even a 40mm timepiece no longer deemed too large for a slender wrist.
Another new model which debuted at this year’s Baselworld is the ref. 128349RBR, with a delicate pink opal dial, adorned with diamonds on the hour markers and bezel. It is an especially feminine take on the once ultra masculine model and is destined to be a new favourite amongst the world’s female elite.
Featured Photo: BeckerTime’s Archive.