The Rolex Presidential: What Makes This Watch So Prestigious

Apr 29, 2020
The Rolex Presidential: What Makes This Watch So Prestigious

Known as the Rolex Presidential, few watches are as privileged and iconic as the Rolex Day-Date. With its elegant and classic design, the Rolex Presidential has graced the wrists of many prominent personalities — from presidents to the Dalai Lama. 

Since the launch of the Day-Date in 1956, Rolex’s flagship collection has enjoyed a prestigious status. After all, all Rolex Presidential watches are only made in either gold or platinum. No wonder it’s a favourite watch of presidents and celebrities! Not only that, it was the first-ever watch to display both the date and day of the week, spelt out in full, and available in not one but 26 languages!

To understand its prestigious journey, let us first take a look at the early models of this iconic watch.

Vintage Rolex Day-Date Watches, Rolex Presidential Watches
Vintage Rolex Day-Date Watches. Photo from Gray and Sons

A Look at the Early Rolex Presidential Models

Rolex Day-Date Ref. 6510 and Ref. 6511

Introduced in 1956 — in particular, Ref. 6510 and Ref. 6511 — the Rolex Day-Date was released more than a decade after its predecessor, the Rolex Datejust, was launched in the market. So, how does the Day-Date differ from the Datejust, you ask? Although the new collection was presented in the same 36mm Oyster case, with fluted bezel, a date complication and automatic movement, the biggest difference was the introduction of a new complication: a day of the week spelt out and displayed in full at 12 o’clock.

Original Rolex Day-Date Watch, Rolex Presidential
Photo from Rolex

The original Day-Date also featured a new bracelet specially designed for the collection. It had semi-circular three-piece and equipped with a Crownclasp, Rolex’s concealed clasp. Over the years, the bracelet has become distinct and eventually known as the President Bracelet. At three o’clock, the watch also featured a date display, complete with the classic Rolex cyclops.

Rolex Day-Date Ref. 6611

The first two models lasted in production for only a year and were replaced by the new Ref. 6611. This new model was now equipped with an improved COSC-certified Calibre 1055 movement with a frequency rate of 18,000 beats per hour. This allowed the brand to have the “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” (SCOC) label on the dial of the new models — a first in the Rolex’s line of watches to have the SCOC label on the dial.

Rolex Day-Date Ref. 6611, Rolex Presidential Watch
Photo from Collector Square

From the previous Dauphine hands of its original models, the Ref. 6611 now featured Alpha-style hands with a champagne dial in a 36mm yellow gold case. It also came with a yellow gold President bracelet and featured a fluted bezel. Just like the first two original models, however, the Ref. 6611’s existence was short-lived. After a couple of years, it was replaced by the Ref. 1800 Series.  

Rolex Day-Date Ref. 1807

The next version of the Day-Date is the Ref. 1800 series, featuring an array of different dial and bezel options, as well as various bracelet textures. The most iconic of which are the ‘bark’ bezel and the President ‘bark’ bracelet. As its name suggests, the bark finish features the same texture you see in the bark of a tree.

Rolex Day-Date Ref. 1807 Yellow Gold, Rolex Presidential Watch

Unlike the first two versions of the Rolex Presidential, the Ref. 1800 series enjoyed a longer presence in the Day-Date journey. It underwent movement upgrades and was available all throughout the late 1970s.

In particular, the Ref. 1807 features a bark-finished bezel and a President bark bracelet. This yellow gold version in 36mm looks like it had an unpolished bezel with a champagne dial. At its heart beats the automatic Calibre 1556 movement.

How the Day-Date Become Known as the Rolex Presidential

The prestige that the Day-Date has enjoyed throughout the years up until now was thanks to President Lyndon B. Johnson or popularly known as LBJ — a watch enthusiast and the 36th President of the United States. 

During his entire public service, LBJ was often seen wearing his Rolex Day-Date. It was also said that the President was also fond of gifting Rolex watches to friends. 

President Lyndon B. Johnson (wearing a Rolex Presidential watch) with Martin Luther King
President Lyndon B. Johnson (wearing a Rolex Presidential watch) with Martin Luther King. Photo from Xupes Journal

In 1965, the Rolex Day-Date received its famous nickname the “Rolex Presidential” or the “President’s Watch” when President Johnson prominently wore his favourite yellow gold Day-Date. Even though he wasn’t really the first president to own a Day-Date, he LBJ was instrumental in making the watch an icon in the watch industry. 

For Jack, From Marilyn

Another US president that was associated with the Rolex Day-Date, albeit a controversial one, was President John F. Kennedy. It was said that for his birthday in May of 1962, JFK received a Rolex watch from Marilyn Monroe. You guessed it right, it was a Rolex Day-Date with a controversial engraving that said: “Jack, With love as always, Marilyn, May 29th, 1962”.

Engraving on the Rolex Day-Date that was Marilyn Monroe's Gift to JFK
Photo from Rolex Magazine

Unfortunately, it didn’t receive the expected warm appreciation from the President, who allegedly told an aide to “get rid of it” to avoid a scandal. The watch resurfaced years later at an auction house. 

The Many Looks of the Rolex Presidential

Today, the Rolex Presidential is not only a classic — it is a watch that is sought after not just by presidents and famous personalities, but even by regular folks who appreaciate a great watch. With its classic and sophisticated design, the Rolex Day-Date has managed to accommodate the different tastes and styles of its customers through the years.

By offering a wide array of models — from materials (yellow gold, white gold, pink gold or platinum) to bezels (fluted, domed or bark), dials (different colour and pattern, and bracelets (President or bark-finished) — the Rolex Presidential’s appeal is universal.

Rolex Day-Date Watches
Photo by Dale Vito

From basic to intricate, you’ll find the Rolex Presidential in all sorts of design, depending on your taste. Today’s models are more streamlined as compared to older, bulkier versions. But always, everyone has the option to either keep their Day-Date simple or studded with diamonds and precious stones.

The Modern Rolex Presidential Watches

If you’re like most watch collectors and want to get a hold of one of the latest Day-Date models in the market, we’d like to share with you a few of our favourites. 

The 40mm Models

Rolex Day-Date 40mm 18K Yellow Gold

A true classic, this Oyster Perpetual Day-Date features a 40mm 18K yellow gold case with a white dial and a fluted bezel. The clean white dial displays hour markers and thin hands made of 18K gold. Sitting at 3 o’clock is the classic date aperture featuring the Cyclops lens. Meanwhile, at 12 o’clock, you’ll see the day window, displaying the day in full in the language of your choice. 

 

Rolex Day-Date 40mm 18K Yellow Gold, Rolex Presidential

Running on the perpetual self-winding Calibre 3255 movement, the watch has a robust power reserve of 70 hours when fully wound. It features a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a screw-down caseback, giving it water resistance of up to 100 metres. To top it all off, a matching 18K yellow gold President bracelet complement this whole look.  

Rolex Day-Date 40mm White Gold & Diamonds

A real arm candy, this diamond-paved Rolex Presidential even befits a King. This Oyster Perpetual Day-Date model features a 40mm 18K white gold case boasting a diamond-studded dial and a diamond-set bezel, finished off with a matching President bracelet. The diamond-paved dial has baguette diamonds adorning it at the same time doubling as hour markers. If that’s not opulent enough, Rolex also throws in two baguette-cut sapphires in the mix, marking the 6 and 9 o’clock. The Cyclops date window at 3 o’clock and the day window at 12 o’clock, as well as 18K white gold hands, complete the luxurious dial. 

Rolex Day-Day 40mm White Gold & Diamonds, Rolex Presidential Watch

The inside of the watch is just as beautiful. Powering it is also the Rolex Manufacture automatic Calibre 3255 movement with 70 hours of power reserve. This luxurious watch is likewise water resistant to 100 metres. 

Rolex Day-Date 40mm Everose Gold & Green Dial

With its interesting colour combination of gold and green, the Day-Date Ref. 228235-0025 stands out in the crowd. Its 40mm 18K Everose gold case features an elegant olive-green dial are made more opulent by a fluted bezel and a matching President bracelet. Its sunray-finished green dial displays hour markers and thin hands made of 18K Everose gold, complemented by a Cyclops date window at 3 o’clock and a day aperture at 12 o’clock.  

Rolex Day-Date 40mm Everose Gold & Green Dial, Rolex Presidential Watches

Just like the first two 40mm watches featured here, this Oyster Perpetual Day-Date model runs on the in-house Perpetual self-winding Calibre 3255 movement. It also has the same a 70-hour power reserve and 100m water resistance.

The 36mm Models

Rolex Day-Date 36mm Yellow Gold & Green Dial

For the classic 36mm size, first, we have this yellow gold and green version. This Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in 18K yellow gold case delights with its green ombré dial studded with diamonds as hour markers. Also adorning the dial are thin 18K yellow gold hands, a Cyclops date window at the usual 3 o’clock spot, and a day window at 12 o’clock. Its signature fluted bezel and a President bracelet complete its look.  

Rolex Day-Date 36mm Yellow Gold & Green Dial, Rolex Presidential Watch

Powering the watch is, of course, the Rolex Manufacture automatic Calibre 3255 with a precision of -2/+2 sec/day and a power reserve of 70 hours. Like the rest of the watches in this selection, it has a water resistance of up to 100 metres. With its vibrant colour combination, this Rolex Day-Date feels like Christmas on your wrist!

Rolex Day-Date 36mm White Gold Blue Dial

If you prefer a more classic version to the yellow gold and green watch above, then this Rolex Day-Date in 36mm white gold with a blue ombré dial is for you. Likewise, diamonds embellish the dial and hour markers, while its 18K white gold hands tell the time. Keeping it classic are the Cyclops date and the day window at 3 o’clock and 12 o’clock, respectively. 

Rolex Day-Date 36mm White Gold Blue Dial, Rolex Presidential Watch

With the in-house manufacture automatic Calibre 3255 movement at its heart, the watch has a -2/+2 sec/day precision and a power reserve of 70 hours. As expected, it is waterproof at 100m and features a President bracelet in 18K white gold. 

Rolex Day-Date 36mm Everose Gold & Diamonds

Another beautiful rendition of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date comes in 36mm Everose gold case. The dial is completely paved with diamonds, including the bezel and the resident bracelet. Instead of the usual index and Roman numerals, the hour markers are made of baguette-cut sapphires of various colours! Meanwhile, the iconic Cyclops date window still sits at 3 o’clock, while the day aperture is at 12 o’clock.  

Rolex Day-Date 36mm Everose Gold & Diamonds, Rolex Presidential Watch

Beautiful and powerful, this watch also runs on the perpetual self-winding Calibre 3255 movement with 70 hours of power reserve. Its screw-down crown, sapphire crystal, and Twinlock double waterproof system make sure this Rolex Presidential is water-resistant up to 100 metres. 

Ode to a Classic

Whether you get yourself a Rolex Day-Date because of its prestige and reputation in the industry or because you truly admire its refined and excellent craftsmanship — rest assured that you’re getting yourself a certified classic. With its prestige, panache, and precision, the Rolex Presidential will surely last you a lifetime!

 

While you’re here, why not continue feeding your passion for luxury watches and get to know another classic? The evolution of the Patek Philippe Aquanaut seems like another good read for you.  

 

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