Original article from forbes.com
The Oyster Perpetual Day-Date holds a hallowed place in Rolex’s history. Sober and elegant, it has achieved mythical status and is considered the most esteemed model in the Oyster collection with its refined case and lugs and clear, legible dial showing calendar indications. It came to be known as the “Presidents’ Watch”, sported by presidents, particularly American presidents, which bestowed upon it a powerful aura of prestige beyond its primary functions. Irresistibly attractive, it has been worn by more heads of state, royalty, dignitaries, celebrities, sportspeople, captains of industry and men who guided the destinies of the world than any other Rolex timepiece. Earning its reputation on the wrists of many world leaders, as well as by its technical prowess with criteria for accuracy that are twice as rigorous as those for an officially-certified chronometer, it provided the essential information needed for scheduling meetings or signing and dating contracts. Thus, the practical Day-Date has always been the ideal watch for decision-makers as it exudes confidence. By extension, by wearing a Day-Date, you’re making a statement that you yourself are a leader and can achieve anything you put your mind to, that you can set a precedent with a Rolex strapped to your wrist. Qualified as an international mark of success, it distinguishes its wearer as one of the elite. It is the ultimate status watch that, more than any other, embodies the accomplishments and prestige of the brand and of those who wear it.
Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum (Photo courtesy of Rolex)
At the time it was launched in 1956, the Day-Date symbolized the pinnacle of Rolex’s watchmaking artistry. By then, the brand had already delivered numerous innovations: the first wristwatch to obtain a chronometer certificate for its accuracy from the Kew Observatory near London in 1914, the world’s first waterproof wristwatch known as the Oyster that simultaneously protected the movement from dust and humidity in 1926, the first wristwatch that automatically wound itself whenever the wearer moved his wrist via the Perpetual self-winding system with free rotor in 1931 (a system later adopted by the entire watchmaking industry), the first wristwatch chronometer with date aperture known as the Datejust in 1945, and the first appearances of Rolex’s professional tool watches such as the Explorer, Submariner, GMT-Master and Milgauss in the early 1950s.
However, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf’s pièce de résistance was arguably the Day-Date. As the last flagship model he created, it can be considered his ultimate achievement in the pursuit of excellence. With its highly-legible instantaneous jump calendar system dubbed the “miracle at midnight”, it was the first-ever waterproof and self-winding chronometer wristwatch to indicate the day of the week written out in full in an arc-shaped window at 12 o’clock on the dial in a choice of 26 different languages (including Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian), thereby asserting its universal nature – the first chronometer in the world to achieve this feat.
Day-Date 40 in Everose gold (Photo courtesy of Rolex)
The Day-Date is endowed with other signature elements that encompass its visual identity: a date aperture at three o’clock enlarged by a Cyclops lens (a Rolex innovation that was later extended to all models in the Oyster collection displaying the date), availability only in precious metals – 950 platinum or 18-carat yellow, white or Everose gold – and fitted with the bespoke instantly-recognizable President bracelet with graceful semi-circular three-piece links (satin-finished outer links and polished, wider central links) designed exclusively for the timepiece at its launch. The new-generation concealed Crownclasp, an opening and closing mechanism with folding blades, is hidden beneath a small Rolex crown-shaped lever in the latest Day-Date.