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History of the Rolex Day Date

Rolex fans often wonder why Rolex doesn’t manufacture more complicated watches – most models they produce are of the standard three-hand variety. The truth is, Rolex has produced very complicated watches in their past – they just didn’t sell particularly well for Rolex. Their moonphase watches languished in jewelers cases. Even their early chronographs sold poorly. It wasn’t until 1956 and the introduction of the Day-Date that Rolex produced a complicated watch which really resonated with the public.

The watch featured a window at the 12 o’clock position which displayed the day of the week, which synched perfectly with the day of the month window at 3 o’clock. The Day-Date also featured a brand new “President” bracelet and an elevated price tag which placed Rolex in the same category as competitors Patek Philippe and Vacheron Constantin.  Despite the bracelet name, the Day-Date did not become (unofficially) known as the “President” or “Presidential” until a Day-Date was given to US President Dwight Eisenhower by Rolex. The Day-Date would soon replace the Datejust as the  Rolex flagship watch and become a landmark acquisition time piece synonymous with success worldwide – the day of the week wheel can be ordered in any one of 26 different languages. It is also available in the following precious metals:  Yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum.

1956 Rolex introduces the 6511 Day-Date.
1957 Rolex replaces the 6511 with the externally identical 6611 featuring the new Rolex Caliber 1055.
1958 Rolex introduces the Day-Date reference 1803.
1969 Rolex introduces an integrated “concealed clasp” into the President bracelet.
1972 Rolex adds the “hack” second hand feature to the Day-Date which allows the user to stop the second hand when the crown is fully extended.
1978 Rolex adds the “quick set” date function as well as the sapphire crystal with model reference 18038.
1990 Rolex adds the “Double Quick-Set” feature to the Rolex Day-Date with the model 18238.
1996 Rolex introduces the Day-Date reference 11823(x).
2000 olex improves the President bracelet with solid links, making it much heavier and less prone to “bracelet stretch” seen in pre-2000 Day-Date models with hollow link bracelets. Rose gold returns as an option for the Day-Date, and a domed sapphire crystal is also introduced.
2008 Rolex debuts the Day Date II (a larger version of the classic Day Date) for the 100 year anniversary.

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