The Rolex Day-Date has been at the top of their non-sports collection since 1958. This year, celebrating its 60th Anniversary, Rolex released the Day-Date 40 in 18k white gold and Everose with a distinctive green dial. But the piece which has attracted our attention all this while is the Day-Date 40 in platinum revealed in Baselworld 2015. We got our hands on an example, and spent considerable time examining (and photographing) to bring you this review of the Ref. 228206 – 83416.
As mentioned, the Day-Date 40 Platinum was unveiled in Baselworld 2015. Along with its siblings, the Day-Date 40 in yellow gold with a sunburst yellow gold dial, the white gold with a guilloché sectorial dial in silver, and the Everose gold (rose gold) with a stripped ‘Sundust’ dial. Platinum is a rare metal reserved by Rolex only for the very top of the line watches, and the retail price of S$ 84,050 with GST reflects that. The premium over the white gold version is a hefty S$ 34,000.
Rolex Day-Date 40 Platinum
Rolex calls the watch Oyster Perpetual, Day-Date 40, Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. Rolex-speak? Well each one has a specific meaning.
Oyster meaning this has a water resistant rating of not less than 100m. In this case, it is exactly 100m. Oysters in Rolex nomenclature usually means that Rolex sees this as a sports watch.
Perpetual is Rolex-speak for automatic winding. Here the Caliber 3255 (new in 2015) is designed and manufactured in-house. The movement has an autonomy of approximately 70 hours.
And Day-Date 40 is what Rolex calls its watches equipped with a calendar. This is a simple calendar display of the day of the week at 12 o’clock, and the date with the attendant cyclops lens at 3 o’clock. This was the Rolex’s high end interpretation of the calendar. The date only watches are called Datejust. But in 2012, Rolex released the most complicated watch they ever made with the Sky Dweller which features an innovative Annual Calendar. The numeral 40 denotes the case diameter of 40mm. A 36mm case diameter Day-Date remains on the catalog and is denoted as Day-Date 36.
Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified is Rolex’s way of saying that the watch is not only certified by COSC which runs a gamut of chronometry tests on the uncased movement, but Rolex also then subjects the cased movements (whole watch) to additional and more stringent tests. The minimum precision rating is +2/-2 seconds a day.
The case, dial, hands and bracelet
The case is the traditional Rolex Oyster case. A 3 body case, with a screw down back, a massive case middle and a smooth bezel. The bezel on the platinum version of the Day-Date differs from its lesser cousins in that it dispenses with the iconic fluted bezel in favour of a smooth, polished one. Perhaps platinum is more difficult to machine to the exacting precision that Rolex requires for its fluted bezel, but the smooth bezel makes a clear statement and an identity on its own.
Truth be told, we were captivated by the dial. The ice blue on the dial is charming. It at once clear, cold and inflexible, as well as welcoming and calming. All at the same time, without being able to pinpoint why this is so. The rhodium pattern breaks the monotony of the colour, and gives the dial a bit of depth.
The markers are white gold appliqués with inserts in the Rolex exclusive SuperLuminova in blue which they call Chromalight. The same for the bar hands. The Rolex center seconds is long and elegant as it glides across the dial in an almost smooth and effortless manner. Its progress is not nearly as smooth as that of the step-less seconds hand of the Seiko Spring Drive. But watching it go round the dial is just as calming as watching the Spring Drive, even though it takes 8 steps every second.
The Day-Date 40 Platinum’s crown carries the tell tale single dot below the Crown logo. In Rolex-speak, this signifies that it is a platinum crown with a Twinlock system of double waterproofing. Rolex uses a system of codes to identify the crown by the level of waterproofness as well as the material of the crown. A line means it is either a steel or yellow gold with Twinlock. Two dots identify the crown to be a Twinlock in white gold. One dot is for platinum crowns with Twinlock. Three small dots equates to a crown which is either steel or yellow gold equipped with the Triplock system. A series of small/large/small dots tells us the crown is white gold, and is Triplock. And a series of large/small/large dots is the mark of a platinum crown with Triplock.
The bracelet of the Day-Date 40 is an icon by itself. Dubbed the “President“, it is made of solid platinum links three abreast, offset against each other, and each semi-circular. The middle link is polished while the outer two are brushed finished. The links have ceramic inserts to enhance the suppleness and durability. The bracelet is fully integrated into the watch case with new end links with a new concealed attachment system. A new generation of concealed Crownclasp, opened with a hinged Rolex crown, is the final aesthetic and functional touch to the bracelet.
The Movement: Rolex Caliber 3255
The movement is the in-house Caliber 3255, new as of 2015. As is usual for a Rolex, we are not at liberty to see and photograph the movement as there is no sapphire display back (we did review a Daytona Cosmograph with the 4131 movement with an aftermarket sapphire case back). Of course, the review sample, being a piece in Rolex’s inventory, we were not allowed to open the case back. But Rolex movements are not really designed and made with great physical beauty. Rolex movements are optimized for its engineering, operations and precision. The traditional haute horlogerie finishing is not a consideration. Suffice to say the movement is finished and receives enough polishing to ensure its continued performance. After all the watch carries the industry’s longest warranty period of 5 years.
Here is a Rolex promotional video on the movement:
The new movement carries no less than 14 patents, and features some rather interesting technical aspects. These new features were introduced in 2015, and many have now become standard in the later Rolex movements.
The then new escapement, which Rolex calls Chronergy. Rolex claims this new escapement improves the efficiency by 15%, contributing to a higher power reserve. The escapement is made of nickel-phosphorus which is insensitive to magnetic interference, although Rolex does not publish the guaranteed anti-magnetic specifications for the Day-Date. The same nickel-phosphorus is used in the Milgauss and Air King, but those models use a magnetic shield to protect the movement against magnetism. The Day-Date lacks this additional shield.
The escapement contains the usual Rolex inventions like the paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, Breguet overcoil, large balance wheel with variable inertia, high-precision regulating via four gold Microstella nuts, a balance bridge, high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers. Rolex is notably the only high volume manufacturer to use Breguet overcoils on all its movements, and is said to be the only one with a special robot/machine to bend the overcoil. Other manufacturers still use the time tested method of painstakingly bending the overcoil by hand.
A barrel and mainspring architecture that is redesigned 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.
The C. 3255 is also equipped with a new automatic winding rotor with a faster wind gearing.
We find the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40 in Platinum to be an intriguing watch. Intriguing because under the unassuming and utterly traditional design, lies a magnificent engine which promises to be a workhorse. The build quality is like the proverbial tank, and will last generations, and can easily be abused or being taken care of for the next generation.
But under the quiet elegance of the dial, the case and bracelet, shines the Rolex crown, immediately recognisable worldwide. So on the one hand the design has all the elements of understatement, the branding is such that it demands (and gets) all the focus and attention. This is not a watch for the meek. But one for the bold. The platinum case and bracelet looks like a steel watch to the uninitiated, that said, good luck being discrete wearing this watch for even the unwashed recognises the value of a Rolex. Even in steel, or because it is a steel Rolex. However, the cognoscenti will know that the Day-Date is only made in precious metals, and the ice blue dial with polished bezel is the calling card of its noble platinum case material.
On the wrist the watch is correctly sized…a 40mm tonneau shaped case fits nicely and comfortably. And the supple bracelet wraps around and cuddles the wrist. The weight is rather substantial, but the watch with bracelet is well balanced, and the case does not slide all over the wrist. And as mentioned, the Rolex Oyster Perptual Day-Date 40 in platinum commands a great presence.
Do we love it? YES! Do we prefer it over the other versions of the Day-Date? An unequivocal yes! The white gold version with the striped dial is perhaps closest, but the ice blue dial with hatch motif tugs our heart strings. The Everose versions, in the 2015 striped dial as well as the 2016 green dial is charming. The yellow gold versions are rather beautiful, But we are besotted by the platinum version with the amazing blue dial.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40 Specifications
Type: Oyster (monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown)
Diameter: 40 mm
Material: 950 platinum, polished finish
Case back: Screw-down with Rolex fluting
Winding crown: Screw-down, Twinlock double waterproofness system
Crystal: Scratch-resistant sapphire with Cyclops lens over the date, double anti-reflective coating
Waterproofness: 100 metres (330 feet)
Caliber: 3255, Manufacture Rolex, Mechanical movement with bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor
Precision: Superlative Chronometer:
official COSC certificate + Rolex chronometer tests
Functions: Centre hour, minute and seconds hands, Instantaneous day and date in apertures, unrestricted rapid-setting, Stop-seconds for precise time setting
Oscillator Frequency: 28,800 beats/hour (4 Hz), Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, Breguet overcoil, Large balance wheel with variable inertia, High-precision regulating via four gold Microstella nuts, Traversing balance bridge, High-performance Paraflex shock absorbers
Escapement: Chronergy with optimized energy efficiency, Paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus pallet fork and escape wheel
Jewelling: 31 rubies
Power reserve: Approximately 70 hours
Colour: Ice blue, diagonal motif on sunray finish
Hour markers: 18 ct white gold appliques, Chromalight
Hands: 18 ct white gold, Chromalight
Bracelet: President, three-piece solid links, 950 platinum, polished centre links, satin-finished
outer links with polished edges, ceramic inserts
Clasp: Concealed folding Crownclasp