August 22, 2022    |    

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date: The Realization Of An Ideal

If time changes all things, this minute changes things like no other. When midnight strikes, the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date forms a bridge between past and future, between what has been achieved and what remains to be lived. Since 1956, it has borne witness to the greatest moments in history on the wrist of visionaries, virtuosos and pioneers. Those who make each day a promise for the future.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
First Oyster Perpetual Day-Date. Première Oyster Perpetual Day-Date.

In the 1950s, major economic, political and social change was in the air. Distances were shortening while information was being exchanged ever more quickly. Under the leadership of Hans Wilsdorf, for whom “dates and days are a necessity”, Rolex sought to develop a model with a clearly readable day display, appropriate for everyday use. Launched in 1956, the Day-Date was introduced as the “watch of prestige” of the Oyster Perpetual collection, transcending a value that hitherto had been dominated by the Datejust, released in 1945. The unprecedented innovation that the Day-Date offered made it truly unique and instantly recognizable: it displayed the day of the week in an arc-shaped window at 12 o’clock. The Day-Date offered a solution to those requiring complete mastery of their personal calendar.

Although the days may be the same wherever you are in the world, they are written differently depending on the language. Using most writing systems – Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese ideograms and even the Ge’ez alphasyllabary used in the Horn of Africa – the Day-Date expresses the cultural identity of its wearer. Universal yet personal, the Day-Date was originally available in 25 different languages: Arabic, Basque, Catalan, Danish, Dutch, English, Ethiopian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Moroccan, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. The number rose to 26 with the addition of Chinese in 1973.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Jack Nicklaus, six-time Masters champion, embraces four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer and three-time Masters champion Gary Player after the trio finished the first round of the Masters 2000 at Augusta National.
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Rolex Testimonee Roger Federer with an Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40.
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Rolex Testimonee Lindsey Vonn. She wears her personal Oyster Perpetual Day-Date II watch.
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Rolex Testimonee Martin Scorsese with an Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40.

Worn over the years by eminent figures who have dedicated their lives to the achievement of high ideals – heads of state, entrepreneurs, athletes and artists from all walks of life – the Day-Date is instantly recognizable, in particular thanks to its emblematic President bracelet, whose evocative name, together with the eminent figures who have worn it, ensured the Day-Date became known as the ‘presidents’ watch’.

A symbol of prestige and personal accomplishment, the Day-Date has been championed by numerous personalities who shape the world in their respective disciplines through their commitment, performance, human qualities and creative genius.

Among the Rolex Testimonees associated with the Day-Date, we celebrate the golfers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – known as The Big Three, American skier Lindsey Vonn, Swiss tennis player Roger Federer and American filmmaker Martin Scorsese.

At its launch in 1956, the Day-Date was a major innovation: it was the first self-winding, waterproof chronometer wristwatch to indicate, in addition to the date, the day of the week spelt out in full in an arc-shaped window at 12 o’clock on the dial – a technical feat at the time. Made exclusively of precious metal – 18 ct yellow, white or Everose gold or 950 platinum – and accompanied by its emblematic President bracelet, its multiple dials make it the ideal canvas for self-expression. It therefore represents the pinnacle of an ideal, combining prestige with the perpetual quest for watchmaking excellence.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Mouvement Day-Date de 1956

When midnight strikes, the day and date simultaneously change in their respective windows on the dial. This watchmaking feat, the “miracle of midnight”, is the fruit of numerous years of research: from 1950 to 1955 Rolex registered four patents for timepieces featuring an indication of day and date. The Day-Date is equipped with two discs that turn both instantaneously and simultaneously. For the day and the date to change in a fraction of a second, the mechanism must accumulate enough energy to not only activate both discs at a precise moment, but also effectively impede them so that they only advance one day at a time.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
President Bracelet of the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40

Created specially for the launch of the prestigious Oyster Perpetual Day-Date in 1956, the three-piece link President bracelet, made only from 18 ct gold or 950 platinum, is still reserved exclusively for the Day-Date and precious metal versions of the Datejust. The President bracelet is fitted with a concealed Crownclasp, opened with a hinged Rolex crown – the final aesthetic and functional touch to this bracelet. It includes ceramic inserts inside the links to enhance its flexibility and longevity. A concealed attachment system on the bracelet ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Oyster Perpetual Rolex Day-Date 40

Since 2022, the Day-Date 40 in 950 platinum features a fluted bezel crafted from the same precious material – a first for Rolex. A cornerstone of the brand’s stylistic heritage, the fluted bezel initially had a functional purpose: the fluting served to screw the bezel onto the case, helping to ensure the waterproofness of the watch. New fixation techniques have since been developed and the fluted bezel has become a purely aesthetic feature. Hitherto crafted exclusively from 18 ct gold, the Day-Date is now available in 950 platinum, the most prestigious metal in existence. A material with exceptional luminosity and a captivating white glow, platinum is challenging to work with, especially when carrying out finishing. Rolex therefore came up with an innovative new manufacturing process for creating a fluted bezel in 950 platinum. Producing fluting with the perfect shape and sparkling surfaces was a true technical feat.


Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36

The Day-Date’s Oyster case, 36 or 40 mm in diameter and guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness and elegance. The middle case is crafted from a solid block of either 18 ct gold or 950 platinum. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that grants only certified Rolex watchmakers access to the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case. The bezel can be fluted or set with diamonds. The date display at 3 o’clock is magnified by a Cyclops lens on the crystal, which is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire and benefits from an anti-reflective coating. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the Day-Date’s movement.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 36

Whether they are 18 ct yellow, white or Everose gold, the gold alloys of the Day-Date are produced exclusively at the Rolex foundry. In its pure 24 ct state, gold is too malleable to be a watch element, no matter the component. To make it harder and improve its resistance, it must be alloyed with other metals. This is the raison d’être of 18 ct gold, a precious alloy highly prized by watchmakers. It is composed of 750‰ (thousandths) of pure gold. According to the proportion of silver, copper, platinum or palladium added, different types of 18 ct gold are obtained: yellow, pink or white. The rigour of the melting process has considerable bearing on the final quality and properties of an alloy. The role of the smelter is therefore of great importance in the production of prestige watches in precious metal. This is the first step in the process o producing middle cases, case backs, bezels and other bracelet components from gold.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Movement 3255 A equips the Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Chronergy escapement created by Rolex in 2015
Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Chronergy escapement created by Rolex in 2015

The Day-Date 36 and Day-Date 40 are equipped with calibre 3255, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate demonstration of technology, this movement carries a number of patents. It offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks, convenience and reliability. The oscillator of calibre 3255 has a large balance wheel with variable inertia regulated extremely precisely via gold Microstella nuts. It is held firmly in place by a heightadjustable traversing bridge enabling very stable positioning to increase shock resistance. The oscillator is also fitted on high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, designed by Rolex and patented.

This calibre incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, made of nickelphosphorus, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability and is also insensitive to magnetic fields. Calibre 3255 is fitted with a self-winding module featuring a Perpetual rotor, which ensures continuous winding of the mainspring by harnessing the movements of the wrist to provide a constant source of energy. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of this movement extends to approximately 70 hours. The Day-Date’s movement will be seen only by certified Rolex watchmakers, yet it is beautifully finished and decorated in keeping with the brand’s uncompromising quality standards.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Blue Parachrom hairspring created by Rolex in 2005

Calibre 3255 features an optimized version of the blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. Insensitive to magnetic fields, the Parachrom hairspring offers great stability in the face of temperature variations. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring its regularity in any position. While the Parachrom hairspring’s blue colour is a direct result of the surface treatment process used since 2005 to enhance its stability, it also contributes to the prestige of the watch. In the history of watchmaking, blued hairsprings have been reserved for the movements of the most precise and exclusive timepieces.

Oyster Perpetual Day-Date
Showroom at Rolex Geneva Headquarters, Switzerland. Rolex Green Seal (sceau vert Rolex).

Like all Rolex watches, the Day-Date is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation testifies that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories and according to its own criteria. These certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.

The precision of every movement – officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – is tested a second time by Rolex after being cased, to ensure that it meets criteria that are far stricter than those of the official certification. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone.

The Superlative Chronometer certification testing is carried out after casing using state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex and according to an exclusive methodology that simulates the conditions in which a watch is actually worn and more closely represents real-life experience. The entirely automated series of tests also checks the waterproofness, the self-winding capacity and the power reserve of 100 per cent of Rolex watches. These tests systematically complement the qualification testing during development and production, in order to ensure the watches’ reliability, robustness, and resistance to magnetism and shocks.


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