Jean-Noel Bioul (Head of Strategic Advisor, Rolex) said in a Bloomberg interview in 2011 that “Every Rolex owner has a personally passionate story to tell about their watch and everyone who wears a Rolex is immediately looked upon as an investor and a member of the Rolex family. They’re our representatives and we want to know about them.”
The Rolex Family is rather big in terms of wearers as well as models, but perhaps the most exciting representatives are the owners of Day-Date.
The Day-Date is the most prestigious Rolex model since 1956. It started as the first calendar wristwatch to show the day written in full, in addition to the date. The models are available exclusively in 950 platinum or 18k gold created in Rolex’s own foundry.
What tells about its mythical charm is that it was worn by more presidents, leaders and visionaries than any other watch. As Rolex described it in an ad in 1960’s: “Men who guide the destinies of the world wear Rolex watches” and twisted it cleverly in 2000: “A Rolex will never change the world. We leave that to the people who wear them”.
Known as “Presidents’ watch”, “Rolex President” or even “El Presidente”, the watch has been a choice of many of the world’s leaders.
Naturally earlier Rolex models were also very much liked in elite circles. For instance Martin Luther King and Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower – the 34th President of the United States – wore Rolex’s previous Datejust models. These facts must have played a great role in Rolex being recognized as a timepiece worn by high achievers.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was the 36th President of the United States (1963–1969) and he was the first in this title to wear a Rolex Day-Date with the Rolex “President” bracelet. It has rounded three-piece links and the crown logo on its clasp, called Crownclasp.
Having read numerous articles (among them the extremely detailed series from Jake Ehrlich filled with historical background) I am convinced that part of the myth is the exact time and reason Rolex started to label the bracelet “President” and whether the watch was ever actually called this.
Hans Wilsdorf (German watchmaker, and the founder of Rolex) was probably a marketing genius himself, and the path of Rolex has been lined with outstanding communicators. J. Walter Thompson, a US communication agency, who has been a pioneer in the industry, was the Rolex marketing advisor in the US. In one of the 1966 Rolex Day-Date watch ads, the title says “The Presidents’ watch”. Later the brand relates the presidential term more on the bracelet: “President Bracelet, designed by Rolex for the Day-Date”.
Jake searched and found another ad from 1984, where Rolex itself refers to the actual Day-Date as The Rolex President. “The Rolex President Day-Date Chronometer is available in 18k gold, with matching bracelet.”
I suppose the goal of the new Oyster Perpetual Day-Date is no less, than to remain an icon. It has a 40 mm case, which houses a new mechanical movement, calibre 3255. Two of my favourites are the 950 platinum model with ice blue diagonal motifs on the dial, and the Everose version with sundust stripes. The “President-bracelet” is integrated even more into the case, which makes it very comfortable.
Everything that operates in the physical world must fight its combat with physical forces. Companies creating such products continuously work on improving performance by better design and high-tech materials. Rolex has come to a milestone with the new Calibre 3255, which increased physical performance in many dimensions compared to its predecessor: precision is twice as good as the COSC requirement for chronographs –somewhere between 2-3 seconds +/- a day and enlarged autonomy by 50% to 70 hours.
These figures are resultants of multiple developments. A new design of the Swiss lever escapement, named Rolex Chronergy, for instance, which improves the relay of energy from the gear train to the oscillator by 15%. It is due to multiplying the lever effect caused by offsetting the escapement from the escape wheel slightly that allows greater distance between the thinned pallet fork and the wheel. The escape wheel also has a cut-out design to decrease inertia. The escapement is made of nickel-phosphorus a material insensitive to magnetic interference. Rolex also developed a new high-performance lubricant for the gear train that transforms the oscillations to seconds and minutes. By high-precision machining the barrel’s thickness was reduced to half, giving it 10-hours of additional running time by itself. A new cut-out oscillating weight turning on ball bearings was made thus improving shock resistance and more effective bidirectional winding.
On the new Yacht-Master, Rolex chose an entirely different colour palette, the Everose gold and black version is pretty impressive, especially the black dial in contrast to the Chromalight hands and hour markers filled with a luminescent material. It comes in two sizes; 40 mm and 37 mm. The watch has a bidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated bezel with matte black Cerachrom insert in ceramic. The numerals and graduations are polished and raised to make them easily readable.
An innovative feature of the new model is the Oysterflex bracelet, developed and patented by Rolex. Inside the bracelet you can find a patented longitudinal cushion system that stabilizes the watch on the wrist, but at the same time it is really flexible to make the watch light to wear. Developed for challenging environments, the bracelet is extremely robust and resistant to physical impacts. The case is waterproof guaranteed to a depth of 100 metres.
In 2015 Rolex brought freshness with colours. Three vivid new versions of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust Pearlmaster come in a new 39 mm size. These three models have bezels set with fancy pink, fancy green and fancy orange sapphires, carefully selected gemstones for the perfect gradient. If this wasn’t enough, you can go for the fully paved dials.
Rolex has a facility in Chêne-Bourg (a municipality in the Canton of Geneva, Switzerland) devoted to gem-setting and dial decorations with eminently high standards in these as well. The company owns a gemmology laboratory – with regard to diamonds gem-setters use IF (internally flawless) stones in D-G colours only. Note that – unless you are a well-trained diamond grader – you probably would not even recognise it if the stone was H-colour and slightly included, but this is “the Rolex Way”…
For coloured gemstones experts set a master-stone as a colour reference. With this reference point they can create for example a blue to green or orange to yellow gradient of sapphires (such as on the new timepieces), with an utmost care for details. So you can be sure that no one can gem-set a Rolex watch, like Rolex itself – and by the way you lose the warranty if you try.
The new Lady-Datejust is slightly bigger than the previous versions, 28 mm. (However there are other female models, like the Datejust Lady 31 or the Lady-Datejust Pearlmaster which are a bit sizable.) As we heard at the presentation, if the Day-Date is the “Presidents’” watch, this new Lady-Datejust should be the “First-Lady’s”. You may choose a prestigious President bracelet identical to that of the Day-Date, or an elegant Jubilee bracelet. The most feminine elements on these models are certainly the dials. For example the gorgeous chocolate dial version, with Everose gold case and diamonds. On the hour markers the diamonds are set on little Everose gold stars.
With the Oyster Perpetual timepiece Rolex follows a rather interesting model-strategy. This year the brand introduced the new 39 mm size as well as exclusive new dials for the 26, 31 and 34 mm sizes. So now you have the chance to choose from many models in these sizes: 26, 31, 34, 36 and 39 mm. The watch is the simplest model, focusing on accurate time display and high aesthetics. Red grape, champagne, olive green, blue or dark rhodium dials are among the new versions.
Last year in the elegant Cellini collection Rolex introduced 3 main lines – Time, Date and Dual Time. Cellini Time is a refined watch, this year it is decorated the double bezel with diamonds or a single bezel entirely set with 62 larger diamonds.
Photo credits: Rolex, Loupiosity.com.
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