|Case||Oyster, 40mm, 18ct white gold|
|Crown||Screw down, Twinlock waterproofness system|
|Movement||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding, Calibre 3255|
|Crystal||Scratch-resistant sapphire, cyclops lens over date|
|Waterproofness||Waterproof to 100 m (330 ft)|
|Power Reserve||Approximately 70 hours|
|Functions||Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous day and date in apertures, unrestricted rapid-setting. Stop seconds for precise setting|
|Bracelet||18ct white gold|
|Clasp||Concealed folding Crownclasp|
The Rolex Day-Date 40 Reviewed
In 1933, US President Franklin D Roosevelt outlawed the private ownership of gold coins, bullion and certificates, forcing their sale to the US Government; a radical move that tripled the country’s gold reserves within four years. This left the Government with the conundrum of where to store it all, requiring an equally radical solution.
Accordingly, in 1936 construction of the United States Bullion Depository began. Built out of granite, the affectionately named Fort Knox (given it is adjacent to the eponymous US army post in Kentucky) was completed in December the same year.
Underneath the structure lies the gold vault, the casing of which is 25 inches thick. Access is through a 20 ton blast-proof door at 21 inches thick, made of torch and drill resistant material. As if that wasn’t enough, once beyond the main vault door there are smaller compartments within it, to provide further protection for the precious metal housed inside. It was created to be impregnable.
You are probably thinking… this is all very interesting, but why am I telling you this? Because it was the best analogy I could find to explain what it’s like to wear a Rolex Day-Date.
It all starts with the weight. When you wear this piece, you will never forget it; indeed when you walk for any more than a few steps you start to feel it act as a pendulum. The Day-Date gives the wearer something special in terms of feel and presence, but not necessarily the kind that will be particularly noticeable by everyone else; it just makes you stand a little straighter and taller when you wear it. Some want a watch to be light and forget it’s there (my father is one of them), but I love that feeling. Especially when you have spent close to £30,000 on it.
Then there’s the president bracelet and Crownclasp. The ingenuity of the former is you can achieve a truly exceptional fit; never too tight or too loose and always breathable, whilst the latter is of such a slim profile you just don’t know it’s there. On top of that, the sound and feel of the snick as you lock and unlock it screams solidity and engineering.
The finishing of both, as it is with the head of the watch is excellent. The polished centre links dazzle in the sunshine, meaning that on more than one occasion I have actually been blinded by it when caught at the wrong angle.
I cannot say I am a fan of all Day-Dates though. As the first waterproof, self-winding chronometer to offer a modern calendar with instantaneous day display, spelt out in full, I accept it is an icon. The yellow gold with champagne dial is just too obvious for me though, and firmly stuck with Gordon Gecko and the 80’s. The platinum version on the other hand, whilst adding to the weight of the watch, fails to tempt me because of the domed bezel and somewhat washed out ice blue dial. The olive green dial however, available in white and Everose gold, is the sweet spot; a triumph. The version we have here is on the former and works with a beautiful, subtle elegance. This, unlike so many from the brand, is a connoisseur’s Rolex; for the owner who does not need to shout about what timepiece they wear.
The white gold has the clandestine look of steel but with the added weight (as referred to above) and shine only a precious metal can provide. Indeed very few will know the difference between it and a standard steel Datejust, for example. Then there’s the way the sunburst olive green dial, released to mark the Day-Date’s 60th anniversary, complements the gold; standing out just sufficiently to add intrigue but all the while doing so with an effortless grace. It doesn’t have the same colour shifting capabilities of, for example, the dial on the Submariner 116610 LV, but it is arresting nonetheless.
It is not perfect however. At certain angles and in particular light, given the white gold baton markers and hands, this is not an easy watch to read, which I found a little frustrating. Perhaps this is because it is not fitted with glare resistant sapphire, but either way, it slightly dulls the brilliance of its execution. It’s also impossible to read in the dark because of the complete absence of lume. I didn’t mind this so much, because it allows the aforementioned batons and hands to gleam in the sunlight. A double-edged sword one might think.
Despite these complaints, the Day-Date is exceptionally versatile and looks nothing short of sensational in every single situation. With a suit? Stunning. Dressed casually? Incredible. In shorts at the beach? Spectacular.
The Rolex Day-Date is referred to by the brand as “the ultimate watch of prestige”. My view is this is the wrong way to think about it. If you want prestige, you buy one of the Holy Trinity of Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin. Instead you should look at it this way: a near bullet proof movement with real stamina; a genuinely useful complication; perfect proportions; and all packaged in precious metal with sensational finishing. This is not the ultimate watch of prestige, instead this is the closest thing you’ll find to wearing a bullion depository on your wrist; it’s the ultimate horological interpretation of Fort Knox.
The RRP is £28,850. Despite being precious metal, because they are made in relatively low numbers, they hold their value well. If you want one on the grey market, you are likely to pay between £21 – 23,000.