Rolex Oyster Day-Date | 10.5.15
Rolex Catalogue for the UK market dated 1963

Detail from Rolex Catalogue for the UK market dated 1963

It’s 59 years since Rolex launched their iconic Day-Date model at the Basel Watch Fair of 1956. Originally conceived as the ultimate luxury timepiece, the Day-Date was essentially an all singing, all dancing model that could just as easily accompany you to your business meeting as it could a swim in your private pool. Although available in white gold and platinum, the majority of Day-Date models were manufactured in 18ct yellow gold and were joined to a heavy gauge link bracelet, also made in 18ct gold. The bracelet alone weighed in at close to 70g of gold (that’s £1,300 / $2,000 just in scrap value in May 2015). The bracelet was detachable so kind of nice to know you could easily raise some cash in an emergency without having to lose your watch. But of course loss was another issue with the model, its brash visibility meant it could also attract unwelcome attention.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date Ref. 1803 made circa 1973

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date Ref. 1803 made circa 1973 photos © Black Bough

Over the years, the model has often polarised opinion and certainly some of its incarnations test the boundaries of taste. I’ve personally always found the typical yellow gold ‘President’ bracelet to be rather over the top. However, remove the bracelet of say a vintage Ref. 1803 Day-Date and you’re left with a completely different beast, dare I say it, a practical and surprisingly reserved looking watch…especially with its sensible case diameter of 36mm.

phillips day date

© Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo – Auction Catalogue May 9th 2015

And the most expensive Rolex Day-Date in the world? Well that record was smashed last night (10th May 2015) by renowned watch expert and auctioneer Aurel Bacs at Phillips in Geneva when he hammered down a platinum and diamond version for a little over $500,000 (illustrated above right). But before you seek out the first platinum Day-Date you can lay your hands on, it’s worth pointing out that particular version was a Ref. 6612, reputedly one of only two known.