Released in 1956 after Rolex had been enjoying quite a barren spell in the sale of its manufactured complicated timepieces it soon began to revive fortune. This new 6511 the “Day Date” had a window at 12 spelling out the day at 12 and the date was shown at 3. Due to the complexity of the watch, with its automatic movement, additional day and date discs and a screw down back it was a very large and thick watch which gave it presence on the wrist. Introduced as a niche model it soon gained the popularity it deserves and after the introduction of the concealed clasp it was known as the “President”
The Day Date became Rolex’s flagship and saviour. The first model (6511) lasted just over a year before it was replaced by the externally identical 6611. This model featured the new calibre 1055 movement with its free sprung Micro-Stella balance and was the first to be labelled ” Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” on the dial. This new accuracy standard guaranteed the watch to remain within + 3.0 seconds per day.
The Day Date earned the nickname the “President” when Rolex reportedly gave one to the then President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower. It is believed that President Eisenhower was given this watch in conjunction with the launch of the concealed clasp.
These early models did not have the hack feature and appeared rather bulky. In their never ending quest to modernize the basic configuration of the Day Date, Rolex designers have changed from the bulbus bubbleback look of the early models to the slender shape employed today.
With only a few mild case design changes over the years the first modification to the Day Date was the addition of the hack feature in 1972. This allowed the second hand to be stopped dead if you wanted to set the time via a preset accurate source. At this time the shape of the head was essentially the same as it is today. The Day Date was available in white gold, yellow gold, pink gold and platinum although during the early 1930’s the pink gold watch was fazed out.
The ” Quick set ” feature solved one of the watches biggest problems. Introduced in the late 1970’s Quick set was added to all Rolex models by 1983. Instead of turning the crown round and round to change the date the wearer could just pull the button out half way and a few turns at most and the correct date was displayed.
The introduction of the quick set feature also coincided with other developments for the Day Date. The inclusion of the sapphire crystal not only gave the watch a sleeker look but also added to the durability of the watch. The sapphire crystal fitted tighter than the plastic glass employed before and rendered the watch glass scratch proof near enough. The early Day Date models were waterproof to 165 feet ( 50 meters) while the current model is safe at depths of upto 100 meters. At the same time the current model is much slimmer.
In addition to the advancements structurally and internally Rolex introduced a new number system that is still in use for today on some models. They added an extra digit to the model number. This number although denoted a new line actually represented the material the watch was when it left the product line.
Introduced at the end of 1990 was the “Double Quick Set” watch. This was model 18238 and it made the setting of the Day and Date even easier as they could both be done on the button. Rolex has also increasingly expanded their “Crown Collection” to include all types of precious stones by now although they were available with diamonds on the bezel from their introduction.
From the end of 2000 the Day Date has been available in pink gold again. The watch has also been introduced with a doomed sapphire mineral glass and can come on an oyster bracelet to bring it in line with many of their other models.
The Day Date across the world has become synonymous with class and style. This watch remains one of the most prestigious additions a man can have to his wardrobe.