An iconic timepiece that has donned the wrists of the world's most influential people, the Rolex Day-Date has long been touted as the "Watch of Prestige", and for excellent reason. Released in 1956, it quickly became synonymous as the timepiece of choice for athletes, visionaries, and world leaders, earning its distinctive bracelet the nickname 'the President' – a nickname that has since stuck to the entire collection as it continues to develop upon its standing as Rolex's flagship offering with its luxurious construction and timeless design.
Itself debuting in 1977, the Rolex Day-Date ref. 18038 introduced several upgrades to the collection that enabled it to remain ahead of the competition and continue building upon the lead it had created as the watch to have for the rich and famous. Two of these major upgrades were the introduction of a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal (replacing plastic acrylic) and the "single quick" date set function via the brand new Cal. 3055 that allowed the watch to rapidly cycle through the date without having to cycle back and forth between midnight like with the previous references.
Constructed of 18kt yellow gold, this 1982 Day-Date ref. 18038 that I have here features the iconic three-piece link "Presidential" bracelet and its signature 36mm case with a fluted yellow gold bezel. While those aspects are to be expected, what really makes this particular example stand out lies in its stunningly beautiful dial. Dubbed the ‘Missoni’ dial due to the hand-made gold chevron pattern on the dial mimicking the fashion house’s signature motif, there is a lot to take in when it comes to the details of this watch. From afar, the chevron pattern creates a hyperreflective surface that makes the watch shimmer and constantly changes in tone, working in tandem with how the exterior lighting changes but when you look closer, you start to see the intricacies of the beautiful dial. With applied diamonds and sapphires on the periphery of the dial, it perfectly frames the hand-hammered dial and shows just how complex the details are.
What makes this watch extra special is that there is no way of getting a dial with such a hand-made nature in this detail from Rolex anymore. Gone are the days of such artistic beauty as the brand has become increasingly industrial, focusing on higher output and precision. While there are benefits to that, it is nice to have a piece from Rolex from a time long gone that shows craftsmanship and artisanal quality.