One of the most anticipated auctions of recent times is the upcoming Phillips “Glamorous Day Date” themed auction. Up for grabs are 60 incredible examples of Rolex’s most prestigious line of watches. Curated by Aurel Bacs, the auction is expected to set new records for the Day-Date, just as his ultimate Christie’s auction did for the “Rolex Daytona: Lesson One”. In this article, we briefly look at the history of this illustrious model, as well as provide our top lots to watch at the May 9th event in Geneva.
Introduced at Basel in 1956, the Rolex Day-Date was initially expected to be a niche model within the collection. Made available in only precious metals, and having the day & date function with automatic movement allowed Rolex to compete at the highest levels of watchmaking. In addition to the watch itself, a new bracelet was introduced which Rolex named the “President”. A famous Rolex campaign aptly describes this watch; “Men who guide the destinies of the world wear Rolex”; quite accurate considering Eisenhower, Kennedy and Fidel Castro all wore Rolex.
Much of the fascination of the Day-Date can be attributed to the amazing variety of models produced from precious metals such as yellow, rose & white gold as well as platinum. However, what makes these watches truly stand out are the amazing & varied dials, with Rolex using hard stones such as opal, jasper & onyx as well as rare stones like Ammonite, Coral & Petrified Fossil. In the 70s & 80s, the famously conservative brand created a beautifully rich & vibrant collection of hand-made enamel dials, also known as “Stella” dials. These Stella dials came in a rainbow of colours, including mint green, hunter green, ox blood, burgundy, orange, blue & yellow. Stellas have become highly collectable. At Basel 2013, Rolex took inspiration from those Stella dials & released a new line of Day-Dates with different colour dials on matching leather straps. At Basel 2015, a chapter ended & another started, with Rolex announcing the discontinuation of the Day-Date II and releasing a new model named the Day-Date 40 with a completely revamped movement.
Looking forward to the upcoming “Glamorous Day Date” auction, we highlight our top lots to watch:
The highlight of the sale is the Platinum reference 1831. Made in a very limited 8 pieces in 1977 for the Shah of Iran, this watch is the holy grail for Day Date collectors. The case is inspired by the Oysterquartz and is supported by a unique satin-finish bracelet. The Stella dial with diamonds is special; it is larger than usual to accommodate the larger case while the diamonds are also uniquely placed. Weighing 300 grams, this is a massive watch in many ways, and when it comes to provenance & rarity, this is hard to beat. It is estimated to sell in the range of CHF 120,000 to CHF 240,000.
The Big Kahuna
An early platinum model, the reference 6612, is another star of the show. Made in 1958, it is one of only two known examples; those two having consecutive serial numbers which emphasises the rarity of this particular model. Platinum is such a beautiful and understated material, suitable for all occasions. In watches, it is also highly valued as only few watchmakers are skilled enough to work with the material. The particular beauty of this piece is undoubtably the dial with it’s unique circular finishing and diamond markers. It is estimated to sell for CHF 100,000 to CHF 200,000.