August 20, 2018
by Ariel Adams
On the wrist the current generation Rolex Datejust 41 and Day-Date 40 have a different wearing experience, even though I consider the watches to be close cousins. It’s important to recall that each of these watch families has a host of available dials which can radically change the personality and wearing experience of the watch. This blue-dialed white gold Day-Date 40 is a bit trendy given its dial color but also very indicative of what a Rolex President is trying to be. This dial features applied Roman numeral hour markers that have never been more complicated on a Rolex timepiece. That is because if you look closely, the numerals themselves are produced from a series of small parts, which give the dial an overall more substantial and impressive feel. The non-lumed baton-style hour markers and hands are among the most “traditional” elements on the watch, which at this point in their history have a welcoming institutional feel. The lifespan of this collection is longer than that of most people who wear it – so choosing to wear a Rolex Day-Date 40 is a very specific message about your mood.
What message is that? The less well-known a watch is (or the less visually bold), the more we can say that the wearer wears the watch. The more well-known a watch is, the more we can say that the watch might be wearing the person. In the case of not only the Rolex brand but in particular the President model, this watch at the very least equally wears you. That’s because this timepiece family comes pre-loaded with so much personality and messaging to a wide array of people. In a lot of instances that is a very positive thing because it means luxury watch buyers get exactly what they hoped to be paying for – and that is immediate, positive recognition when people see their timepiece.
In white gold the Day-Date has perhaps its most discreet character. It requires someone knowing that the Rolex Day-Date model is only available in gold or platinum, and that the watch they are seeing is indeed a Rolex Day-Date. That means two levels of sophistication are needed in order for an onlooker to fully “appreciate” what wearing this particular gold watch means. In yellow or rose gold the situation is different and it is more obvious you are wearing a gold timepiece. If you like the idea that your timepiece might be mistaken for “mere” steel and that only select sophisticated people know what you are wearing, then try out the white gold model for sure. If you want to feel “safer” about your luxury watch purchase, then opt for a different color of gold. Ironically, given the mixture of platinum with gold, the 18ct white gold version of the Day-Date 40 costs more than the yellow or Everose (Rolex’s own special rose gold alloy) models, but of course less than the platinum model. When you handle the white gold President you immediately know it isn’t steel, given the metal’s hefty weight.
On the wrist the Day-Date 40 wears comfortably, if not modestly. While the watch itself is not officially called the “President” the bracelet style is officially known as the “President bracelet” by Rolex. While on men’s watches the bracelet is not available on watches outside of the Day-Date 40 collection, Rolex did recently introduce this bracelet for some women’s Datejust models. Therefore, it is possible that Rolex will introduce the President-style bracelet for men’s Datejust models in the future. The bracelet features a three-link design with heavily rounded links. The polished center link with brushed outer links is a signature Rolex look which adds a technical appeal to the design that keeps it from looking too shiny or glossy. This focus on lessening visual light reflection in the bracelet is then contrasted with the fluted white gold bezel that is all about playing with the light. Additional reflective areas on the dial further play with the light, making the Day-Date 40 a distinct tease for those attracted to shiny objects.
One of the most brilliant things about the most modern version of the President bracelet is how the links are protected from wear and tear. Rolex includes small white-colored ceramic “straws” (as I call them), which act as buffer tubes between the link screw bar and the links themselves. This is designed to protect against wear and tear between the screws and the gold (or platinum) links. Rolex wear tests its bracelets using robots and has determined that the use of these small ceramic tubes appreciably increases the lifespan of the bracelets. One small complaint about the President bracelet is the deployant buckle. Rolex did a nice job of hiding most the of the mechanism, but for small wrists like mine the rigid interior structure of the deployant removes from the otherwise very form-fitting nature of the President bracelet on the wrist. Just something to consider if you have smaller wrists like mine, as this is a very minor thing, but does remove a few points from this otherwise close to perfect watch collection.
Rolex sizes the Day-Date 40 (as the name suggests) at 40mm wide and about 12mm thick. The bracelet is an odd 21mm wide and tapers down a bit in an elegant fashion. Fit and finish are excellent with the Day-Date 40 also being the first Rolex collection to benefit from more modern case production that leads to better overall quality, tolerances, and finishing. Watches like this easily allow even untrained watch lovers to appreciate that even though there may be more expensive wristwatches out there, no one beats Rolex in overall finishing and initial quality (in my opinion). The Oyster-style case has a screw-down crown, caseback, and is water-resistant to 100m. Over the dial is a flat sapphire crystal with AR coating on the underside. Elements such as the repeating “Rolex” name etched into the inner metal flange ring around the dial make the watch difficult to copy. No company other than Rolex has had to do so much to their watches to prevent them from being easy to replicate by the multi-billion dollar criminal fake watch trade. While I’ve seen leaps and bounds in fake watch quality, nothing even comes close to the real thing.
Why do you want an all-gold watch? Because you can, of course. The entire point of the Rolex Day-Date 40 is to offer as comfortable and as prestigious a product as possible in an all-gold package. At times the core design of the Rolex President appears dated… and that is because the design is dated. For me, on some days that is exactly what I want, and on other days I wish to wear something a bit more personally expressive. Watch collectors typically don’t include models like Rolex Datejusts or Day-Dates in their collection. Part of that is because, as I said above, the Day-Date doesn’t fit into any of the traditional watch categories, and often because the watch is seen as an “easy choice.” You don’t really need to search hard to learn about the Day-Date or to know what it is. In a lot of ways the Rolex Day-Date 40 is just your quintessential men’s “I made it watch.” At some point in history for watch nerds, that honor went to a gold Rolex Daytona – but I seriously think the Day-Date 40 is the better luxury statement watch for men.
The reference 228239 Day-Date 40 in 18ct white gold really grew on me even though I’m not much of a white gold watch guy. I would still prefer the yellow gold model for my money – but I’m glad that I was able to test out the white gold model. I tested this particular piece from Eleven James, which is a luxury watch rental company that (as an update to this article) actually may no longer be in business at this time. The concept was sound though; for a small fraction of the retail cost of a brand new watch you can wear something like a Rolex Day-Date 40 “President” for long enough to know if it is right for you. For me, it was an excellent way to see how I felt about a white gold Day-Date 40 (and I like it more than I thought I would).
With a gold case, bracelet, hands, and hour markers, the Rolex Day-Date 40 President isn’t just the quintessential men’s gold watch, but it is also ironically a value-leader. Yes, you can get cheaper all-gold watches, but none that are nearly as nice. More so, even if you spend more money on all-gold watches from brands such as Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe, you aren’t necessarily getting a better watch by any means. That means for the roughly $35,000 USD retail price (average) of a Rolex Day-Date 40 you are actually getting a rather good value (relatively speaking, of course). If you don’t like the President, you will at least respect it. And if you don’t like it early on in your watch collecting career (as I didn’t), you have plenty of time for the Rolex Day-Date to grow on you. Retail price for the Rolex Day-Date 40 reference 228239BLRP in 18ct white gold as reviewed here is $37,550 USD. rolex.com
>Model: Day-Date 40 reference 228239BLRP
>Price: $37,550 USD
>Size: 40mm wide
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a clear-spoken luxury status symbol that also happens to be a really competent timepiece.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone wanting just one super-acceptable luxury watch to withstand all occasions.
>Best characteristic of watch: Rolex keeps making the President… more Presidential over time. So many details intended to make the watch durable, comfortable, reliable, accurate, and classic it is hard not to live the collection and the brand behind it. Lots of visual variety in the range – but all are exclusively in expensive metals.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Some Day-Date styles aren’t the most legible Rolex watches around. Not everyone wants the huge personality that comes with wearing a “Rolex President.” Style is dated – it just depends whether or not you like dated-looking watches.