Just as it did over with the Datejust Ref. 1601, the Ref. 180X range of Day- Date is where the series first garnered an enormous number of dial options. Classic shades of black, white and silver were plentiful, but none more so than the champagne dial. An all-gold dial on a solid yellow gold watch was to become the ultimate status symbol along the corridors of power.
As for the handset and hour markers, this Rolex Day-Date has the simple stick batons.
Additionally, all of the dials on the 1803 Day-Dates, just as they were on the Datejust of the era, were “Pie Pan” style (something that was not done on later Day-Date references). The “Pie Pan” nickname comes from the actual shape of the dial surface; the outer edge angles downwards, giving the dial the shape of an inverted pie pan.
Luminescence was only on certain types, used economically mostly on the hands. The 180X series would have the first to use Tritium, following on from the controversial Radium of earlier years.
And finally, the languages. On the Ref. 1803, you could take your choice of 11 dialects as opposed to today’s 26. This Rolex Day-Date has the day of the week in Spanish.This Rolex Day-Date is powered by Rolex’s calibre 1556 “Superlative Chronometer, Officially Certified”, the last of the 1500 series to power the “President” Day-Date. Rolex didn’t start manufacturing its own calibres until 1957. Until then, the movements had been sourced from the likes of long-term partner Aegler. That all changed with the introduction of the 1500 series, the first mechanisms made completely in-house by Rolex themselves. With its unique complication, the Day-Date was in need of a calibre all to itself. While the first 2 references in the series continued to use third-party movements, by 1959, Rolex had perfected the calibre 1555; a variant of the 1530 with the added utility necessary to drive the second calendar display. The cal. 1555 was produced from 1959 to 1967, overlapping in some models of the Day-Date with its successor, the calibre 1556, released in 1965. Ostensibly identical, the only major difference between the 2 movements was a considerable rise in balance frequency. The later calibre followed the example set by the rest of the 1500 series and saw its rate increased to 19.800 BPH. As well as a marginal improvement in accuracy, the higher beat gave the mechanism an added imperviousness to shocks. In addition, the cal. 1556 was rated as a 26-jewel movement, with the top end of the center wheel receiving the extra stone, although it too had supplementary jewels in the calendar that weren’t included in the official count. The calibre 1556 was the last of the series to power the Day-Date.
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On top of it all was an acrylic crystal “Plexiglass” that was fitted to the 1803 and its predecessors before Rolex switched to using synthetic sapphire for their Day-Date crystals.
The Ref. 1803 was the first reference to wear the bracelet we most associate with the watch, the “President”. It was created specifically for the Day-Date.