The Rolex Day-Date had always been the most elegant, refined and luxurious watch of the Oyster Collection by Rolex – that also has elegant watches in its Cellini collection. Exclusively made in precious metals – gold or platinum – it was available for years in 36mm and more recently in 41mm (with the Day-Date II), but still with the same complication: a 3-hand timepiece showing the date and the day in a unique (but now iconic and highly copied) way. For Baselworld 2015, this luxury Rolex receives a serious update, not only by getting new colours but also by coming with a new case and, mostly, a brand new movement. Here is the Rolex Day-Date 40 with the new Rolex Calibre 3255.
The new Rolex Day-Date 40
Together with the new dial colours, the main novelty concerning the Rolex Day-Date 40 is of course its new size – and thus meaning a new case. But first, let’s go back on what is, since 1956 (the year of its very first introduction), the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. This long name is important to understand all about this luxury watch.
- It is said to be an Oyster. In Rolex’s nomenclature, it means that this timepiece is part of the sports watches collections and that it comes with a relatively high level of water resistance – 100 meters here to be precise – and is also a reference to the world’s first wrist watch with a water resistant case, the 1926 Rolex Oyster. Nowadays, this name is stamped more to allow the watch to protect its movement from humidity rather than to define a proper dive watch.
- It is said to be an Oyster Perpetual. For Rolex, Oyster Perpetual means automatic / self-winding movement by the mean of a central oscillating weight also called rotor. Patented in 1931, this mechanism was, at that time, a real innovation, preventing the owner to actuate the crown and thus, to let humidity and dust enter the movement – thereby participating to the legendary robustness of the Rolexes.
- It is said to be a Day-Date. The Day-Date is Rolex’s interpretation of a calendar watch, a timepiece that shows the date (classically by a window at 3, just like in the Datejust) and the day by the mean of a rotating disc with a large aperture at 12, letting the owner have a clear view on the day of the week – entirely written. This disc was – and still is – available in 26 languages and makes, together with the date disc, an instant jump at midnight.
- It is said to be a Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. As every movement made by Rolex, the calibre of the Day-Day is highly tested and certified by both internal controls and by the COSC (and even beats the COSC standards).
The new Rolex Day-Date 40 is respectful of this 4 pillars, a water resistant, automatic chronometer watch that displays both the date and the day, together with a luxurious and refined feeling – as this timepiece is still only available in precious metals (yellow gold, white gold, rose gold or platinum). The case of this new edition shows new dimensions and new proportions. The diameter is reduced to 40mm and both the case-bands and the lugs are slimmer – something that collectors were highly expecting, as the previous editions were a bit too bulky.
The other novelty is the arrival of the President bracelet on every editions – this typically Rolex bracelet with 3 rounded links that is now fully integrated to the watch and comes with a new end-links design. This bracelet was introduced first in 1956 and made exclusively for the Rolex Day-Date and is still in good position here, in the context of the new Rolex Day-Date 40. Its solidity and its comfort are now fully admitted, as well as the quality of the hidden clasp. This new Rolex Day-Date 40 is available in a variety of materials and dials (excluding the editions with diamond settings):
- Yellow gold with a sunburst yellow gold dial, with raised applied Roman Numerals and a fluted bezel.
- White gold with a guilloché sectorial dial in silver, with raised applied Roman Numerals and a fluted bezel.
- Everose gold (rose gold) with a stripped ‘Sundust’ dial, with raised applied batons indexes and a fluted bezel
- Platinum with a squared sky blue dial, with raised applied batons indexes and a flat polished bezel
These new combinations, together with the new dimensions and proportions, are not totally renewing the concept of the DD. However, the new Rolex Day-Date 40 is more elegant, slightly more refined and still totally versatile – easily wearable with a weekend outfit or with a suit. Once on the wrist, the use of precious metals creates a quite heavy timepiece – especially in platinum – but the reasonable diameter, the slim profile and the comfort of the president bracelet are never debatable. The classic is revisited, not changed.
The new Rolex Calibre 3255
The biggest novelty with the Rolex Day-Date 40 is not its new case or the new dials. The innovation is proudly hidden by the fluted case-back. Indeed, inside the 40mm case ticks a brand new movement, something big for Rolex that had been using the same base calibers for ages. With the new DD, it’s an entirely new era for the ‘Crown’. Sadly, this engine will remain hidden from you eyes, as no see-through case-back is expected soon from Rolex – something that could however change, as Tudor is now coming with sapphire case-back on its new North Flag.
Anyway, even if not visible, the new Rolex Calibre 3255 comes with interesting features. It has a brand new design – started from scratch and not using a known base – and improves roughly all the technical and aesthetic aspects of the previous movements manufactured by Rolex. From the production and storage of energy, to the regulating organ or the gear train, every aspects have been rethought and improved. The Rolex Calibre 3255 comes with no less than 14 patents. All of this for a single goal: the best chronometry and reliability possible. Here are the main improvements:
- A new barrel and mainspring for a longer power reserve. The thickness of the walls of the barrel has been reduced by 50 per cent, resulting in more space for the mainspring and more than 10-hour gain in autonomy.
- A new escapement: Rolex has developed a new ‘Chronergy’ escapement that improves the efficiency of this module of approximately 15 percent, thus participating in a lower consumption of energy and a higher power reserve. Both the escapement system, the pallet and the escapement wheel had been improved, with a cut-out design to make it lighter and reduce its inertia, an escapement system that is no longer in alignment but slightly offset, thus multiplying the lever effect and finally pallet stones with a thickness reduced by half while the contact surfaces of the escape wheel teeth have been doubled.
- The variable-inertia balance wheel still features Rolex well-know antimagnetic hair-spring, the Parachrom spiral (with Breguet overcoil) for both a very high accuracy and a good resistance to magnetic fields.
- An improved gear train with new lubricants for less frictions, a longer useful life and a greater stability over time.
- A new perpetual rotor for a more rapid winding of the new high-capacity mainspring.
All of these improvements lead to first a lower consumption of energy and a power reserve increased of 24 hours (compare to the previous calibre 3156) to reach 70 hours. It also brings a higher chronometric performance, as the Rolex Calibre 3255 is not only certified by the COSC, it properly beats the COSC requirements, as the precision is told by Rolex to be twice as great as that of an official chronometer. The movements are officially certified but also tested internally by Rolex in actual conditions of daily wear and on assembled watches (not only on movements).
The last of the novelties concerns the finishing, as the new Rolex Calibre 3255 comes with quite an improved quality. Not that the previous movements manufactured by Rolex were hideous but the quality was quite industrial. On this new movement, the aesthetics are rearranged and very nicely made, with polished beveled angles on the bridges, circular graining on the main plate, concentric brushed pattern on the bridges and a snail finish on the rotor. It’s clean, pleasant but sadly, hidden.
Once again, Rolex uses its traditional recipe: just updating, keeping the good points and never breaking the codes. The new Rolex Day-Date 40 is still an elegant, comfortable, versatile luxury watch with plenty of advantages: an incredible reliability, a superb construction, an iconic design. The same can be said about the new Calibre 3255: efficient, intelligently designed, very well manufactured (knowing Rolex, the question of the reliability shouldn’t be an issue). It however also has the main disadvantage to be a Rolex Day-Date, meaning that it brings almost no novelty, no fresh air to a concept used since 1956. It might be what Rolex’s collectors are waiting for but we could also be pleased by a bit of boldness from the ‘Crown’.
The Rolex Day-Date 40 is not the cheapest watch of the collection, as the Everose edition is priced at 27.250 Euros (Ex. taxes) and the platinum edition at 45.400 Euros (Ex. taxes).
More details on Rolex Official Website.