Since many years, I am craving for a gold Rolex Day-Date. Not always with the same intensity, but ever since I tried a Day-Date in my early 20s, I decided I need one at some point.
That point is closing in on me now, 20 years after I tried my first Rolex Day-Date or Rolex “President”, as they like to call them in the US. The “President” part mainly refers to the bracelet, of course. But it was a 1966 Rolex advertisement that made a reference to the president, holding a red phone and on his wrist, a Rolex Day-Date with “President” bracelet. You can see it yourself in this reference article I did on the Day-Date.
Anyway, the gold Rolex Day-Date is a watch that has been on my list for a very long time. But every time I came close, I decided to go for something else. Or that it simply wasn’t the time yet. I have my gold watches meanwhile, but a Rolex Day-Date is the one that fails. I have and have had my share of sports Rolex watches, from GMT-Masters to Submariners, Sea-Dwellers, and even a Yacht-Master. The current Submariner and a Datejust are the ones that are still in my collection. I have no craving for any other Rolex than the Day-Date. Last year I even had a Daytona in my possession for a short while, but that’s definitely not for me.
Pre-Owned Rolex Day-Date
The pre-owned market on Rolex Day-Date watches is huge. For this little Pre-Owned Picks overview of Day-Dates, I make use of the offers on Chrono24. What I noticed from the start, is that most Day-Date models are offered by sellers in the United States. In total, there are 3117 pre-owned Rolex Day-Dates offered on Chrono24, of which 2003 are in the US and the second country, Germany, “only” has 221. Pretty amazing. On the other hand, it is that typical American status symbol to show off your success in life. Despite my lack of success (at least compared to a lot of Day-Date wearers), it will be my next Rolex.
Day-Date 1803 – € 9.050
The days you could pick these vintage Rolex Day-Date reference 1803 models up for cheap are long gone. I found this beautiful vintage Day-Date reference 1803 with President bracelet and gold pie-pan dial for €9050. Not too shabby! It doesn’t have the original box, but does come with the appropriate paperwork. It has the Rolex caliber 1556 movement, meaning it does not have quick-set. Let alone double quick-set. So a lot of turning crowns involved if you need to correct the day and date. But boy, it looks good! This watch dates back to 1972 and is offered by a dealer in the USA. Click here for the offer on this 1803.
Day-Date 18038 – € 11.370
Where the 1803 might be a bit too vintage for you (and me), due to the plexi crystal and endless crown turns, this 18038 offers sapphire and at least a quick-set for the date. With box, but without papers, the seller (also from the USA) asks a firm € 11.370. The caliber 3055 is truly a step-up from the 1556 movement, with quick-set but also with a higher ticking speed (28800vph). This particular one dates back to ca.1986. It comes on a President bracelet without too much stretch, based on the pictures of the seller. Click here for the offer on this 18038.
Day-Date 18238 – € 14.500
As you can read in my Rolex Day-Date reference article, the 18238 ticks a lot of boxes for me. It is the first Rolex Day-Date to have double quick-set, and introduced in 1988. According to the Dutch seller, this watch dates back to that year as well. The 18238 was in production from 1988 to 2000, so you should also be able to find newer pieces. No box or papers, but in great condition based on the images. Click here for the offer on this 18238.
Day-Date 118238 – €18.390
As you can see, the newer references come at higher prices. But this also kinda makes sense, as the more recent models are a bit more solid and “advanced” over the older ones. Take the 118238, introduced in 2000, and much heavier in weight than the 18238 or any of its predecessors. This is because the clasp is different, but this watch also does not have any hollow center links anymore. That’s right. All models till 2000 had gold hollow center links, which saved some weight (and cost). It also shows in price. The 118238 also uses the caliber 3155 movement, just like the 18238. This would probably be my pick, of money isn’t a topic. Click here for the offer on this 118238.
Day-Date 228235 – €35.299
This is not what I have in mind on spending on a Rolex Day-Date, but I just want to include it as the most beautiful model they currently offer (in my opinion). The olive green dial looks simply stunning in combination with the Everose gold. Rolex has its own alloy for rose gold. This watch, unlike all the others in this article, measures 40mm in diameter. The 1803 up to the 118238 are all 36mm. I have tried this watch not too long ago, and although my 19cm wrist can easily handle 40mm, I did feel the 36mm models have a better design ratio. Although certainly not as bad as the discontinued Day-Date II, the Day-Date in 40mm didn’t make my mind change on a 118238. But if I had 35K to blow on a Day-Date, this would be the one. Look at this rose gold and olive green! Wow! Click here for the offer on this 228235.
As always, make sure to do your homework before you buy a watch (online, offline, doesn’t matter). Of importance is a correct functioning movement, of course, but also the level of stretch on a gold bracelet. You can easily find out by holding the watch but its case (crown up or down) and see if the (closed) bracelet bends, and how much. If it is a floppy thing and hangs down, you better continue to look further. If it is (relatively) straight, there’s not much to worry about.