The President’s Watch - Exploring the Rolex ‘Day-Date’

Of all watches, Rolex might be the best known brand name, and the ‘president’ it’s most recognisable model.

First introduced in 1956, the Day-Date, (as the name suggests) was the first model to have a simultaneous day at twelve-o-clock and date at three-o clock. How it got the name ‘President’ is a little less clear.

After World War 2, Rolex began ensuring the most powerful men in the world wore their watches - even if they had to subtly gift them, as in the case of Churchill. Although mistakenly attributed to Eisenhower’s golden Date-Just with a Jubilee bracelet, the first president to wear a Day-Date in office was Lyndon B. Johnson.

Rolex quickly capitalised on the watch’s connection to the White House in advertisements, which might result in the confusion. Although often referred to as the ‘President’, only the bracelet used with the Day-Date is officially called the president, not the face - perhaps inspired by Johnson.

It too gained recognition thanks to the infamous gifting of a Rolex Day-Date  from Marilyn Monroe to JFK after she sang the sultry “Happy Birthday, Mr. President. To avoid the outing of his affair, he told an aide to “get rid of it”, resurfacing decades later for auction.

”The Rolex Day-Date has been worn by more presidents, leaders, and visionaries than any other watch”.  - Rolex

The timepiece went on to become a key status symbol, from Castro to Warren Buffet. Rolex weren’t far off when they advertised that “Men who guide the destinies of the world” wear the Day-Date - think of almost any leader, and they’ll have one (even the Dalai Lama).

Thanks to the link with power and stature and the timepiece only being made in precious metals, the watch became popular from Wall Street to street gangs, and found its way into Hip-Hop in the 80s with the likes of 2 Live Crew and EPMD. It’s since become a favoured model amongst the likes of Jay-Z, and a common first watch in the NBA.