A Very Rolexy Rolex Discussion: 3 Reasons The Rolex Day-Date 40 Convinced Me

A Very Rolexy Rolex Discussion: 3 Reasons The Rolex Day-Date 40 Convinced Me

Rolex Rolex Rolex, Rolex Rolex; Rolex Rolex Rolex Rolex Rolex. Rolex Rolex, Rolex Rolex Rolex.

Oh, yeah, and Rolex.

Okay, now that the word has lost all meaning and even the most ardent fan boys are losing their minds because it looks like a made-up word, we can get down to business.

Today’s piece will be a bit of a departure for me. Anyone who knows me will know that I have never gotten bitten by the Rolex bug.

Like Breitling, Rolex has never called out to me as a watch that I must have or that would be the pinnacle of my collection.

I honestly think the reason this is true is because of the downsides to being the most widely known watch brand in the world: copying and overexposure.

The dark side of being well known is imitation, and imitation leads to overexposure in some ways. There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of different watches that have borrowed, copied, or straight up stolen designs from Rolex watches over the years.

Fake Rolexes being destroyed

Fake Rolexes being destroyed

The newest trend is to call them homage watches (which I am not here to discuss). But, nevertheless, there are more Rolex-style watches than anything else. This results in the subconscious feeling that it isn’t anything special.

When you grow up at the lower end of the income bracket as I did, you end up seeing a lot of cheap imitations of nice products. This is the reason I also don’t care much for carbon fiber accessories, leather seats, or chrome anything: I spent so much of my life around very poor imitations of these very nice things that I’ve become conditioned to loath or detest them as, well, junk.

The sad thing is that the originals are great for a reason, which is why they are so heavily copied and imitated. The problem is that many of us are exposed, not to what was great, but what was poorly executed and conceptually stolen from somewhere else.

I have seen tons of “carbon fiber” phone cases that were barely worth the materials they were made out of. I have sat in hundreds of false leather seats that felt neither supple nor comforting, instead feeling sticky or cracked and disintegrating.

By this point, I have bought or seen thousands upon thousands of products that have been “chromed” only to have it feel plastic and fake – or, worse, have the “chrome plating” flake off like the chintzy, economical spray-painted coating it pretty much is.

So when it comes down to it, my first, fifth, hundredth, and maybe even thousandth experience with Rolex-like products were also with things that never made to the highest levels of quality that Rolex represents.

Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum

Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum

This is also a critical point of note: my experience with Rolex (true Rolex) is definitely the epitome of modern product excellence. There can be no denying that. But the personal experience over my lifetime with things that remind me of Rolex, or that even claim to be Rolex but aren’t, is very poor.

The first, and second, Rolex watches I ever held were actually nothing more than fakes owned by random people in my past. This, combined with seeing a lot of poor imitations, copies, and homages, naturally predetermined my opinions of Rolex before I could even spend time with the real McCoy.

It kind of stinks that I would be prejudiced against something that, according to my own definitions of quality, stands head and shoulders above pretty much everything similar.

Lucky for me, then, at Baselworld 2015 Rolex launched a new look for one of its models that, for the first time, I appreciate for itself instead of comparing it negatively against my past.

That watch is the Rolex Day-Date 40.

Interestingly enough, I’ve even gone completely “nerd Rolex fan boy” and limited it not to the entire line of Day-Date 40s, but to just two specific references within the collection!

I can just hear 19-year-old me spouting some inanely juvenile comment about how I’m a lemming or something. Who knows what I was saying, I tended to mumble anyway.

Your author's favorite Rolex Day-Date 40 dial is this quadrant design, here in platinum with blue dial and white gold with silverery dial

The author’s favorite Rolex Day-Date 40 dial is this quadrant design, here in platinum with blue dial and white gold with silvery dial

So I would like to provide a neat list of three reasons why I really, really like the new Day-Date 40 (specifically, references 228239 white gold and 228206 platinum with quadrant dials) and why it has helped me to overcome pre-conceived ideas based on false observations and naiveté.

Rolex Day-Date 40 in white gold

Rolex Day-Date 40 in white gold

1. It is something I didn’t expect, therefore proving to me that Rolex will take the occasional design risk.

Granted that, compared to many things in the watch industry, Rolex never has been and never will be avant-garde or quirky.

That is fine.

As a young watch connoisseur (okay, watch nerd), I never really wanted everything to be as interesting and unique as Urwerk or as complicated as many grand complications.

When you remember that Rolex has a very specific spot in the world of mechanical watchmaking, the comparisons need to be adjusted. Looking at what Rolex has done over the past fifty years and considering the new designs and styles that have started to slowly come out recently, it becomes clear that the brand is shaking things up as much as it can from its market position.

The new dials and numerals provide enough spice to delineate themselves from previous models, and provide just enough quirkiness to help stuffy watch nerds like myself have something to pay attention to.

The departure of the dials from the norm is rather subtle, but when taken in the Rolex context of style and history, it stands out as a design bullet point. More of this definitely needs to follow and I will find more and more pieces that I can get behind wholeheartedly.

Rolex Day-Date 40 in white gold with quadrant dial

Rolex Day-Date 40 in white gold with quadrant dial

2. The look of the dials is a large departure stylistically compared to what I am used to, and thus made me sit up and take notice.

The dial numerals, in the split block style reminiscent of stencils, is awesome, and immediately made me stop and stare. It is a detail that definitely bucks tradition and creates a somewhat edgy display (for Rolex) that takes design cues from industrial graphic design.

I especially love the spacing it creates in the numerals, and the contrast of the pyramid polished blocks set next to flat polished blocks for the VI, VIII, and X numerals is genius. Graphically, it creates visual interest while sticking close to understandable character styles.

Only seven of the eighteen references in the collection share these numerals, and yet of those seven there are two that stand out from the rest. The platinum Ice Blue Quadrant and the white gold Silver Quadrant share a dial background that is as unique as the numerals themselves.

Utilizing alternating directional lines in four quadrants (hence the names), the dial background of these two references plays with light reflections creating movement where there is none. This detail adds greatly to the spacing and contrast found in the numerals and definitely strays from the much safer solid-color backgrounds found on many Rolex models.

The alternating lines also mean that the reflections change as you move your viewing angle. This aspect determines how your brain processes the dial, and if it is always changing then visually you should be more drawn to it (at least I was).

Rolex Day-Date 40 in white gold

Rolex Day-Date 40 in white gold

3. The new design direction made an instant connection visually, which allowed me to reassess Rolex based on what it is doing and not compared to others. And as such, I could no longer ignore the awesome things Rolex is doing.

I have always researched brands and what they are doing, including brands I’m not too fond of. Every now and then an article (or a thesis in some cases) pops up discussing the technology and engineering of Rolex watches. Of course, I take notice because as a watch nerd I like to stay aware of how Rolex works, how much investment it has made in manufacturing, and at what level the brand really is working on.

When I was not overly attracted to the brand it was easy to hear the facts, accept them as true, but then ultimately dismiss them with an arrogant, “But it’s still Rolex.”

In the back of my mind, however, was always a nagging feeling that I was just ignoring something, a thing I should really like because of reasons I knew were simply opinions and half-truths.

Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum

Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum

When I saw the Day-Date 40, specifically the references I’ve mentioned, Rolex finally clicked into the category of “Deserves Second Look.” The most interesting thing in retrospect is that I probably saw the other “new” Day-Date 40 references before I saw the one I liked but I dismissed them all as the same old stuff.

Regardless of when the moment came that I couldn’t ignore it any longer, I am newly impressed by facts I technically learned long ago.

The level of manufacturing capabilities that Rolex employs rivals the best in any industry, the science behind creating the most robust and long-lasting mechanical watches around is NASA level, and the investment in quality and consistency borders on obsessive.

Simply put, Rolex watches are perhaps the most reliable mechanical watches available today, they are meant to be worn hard and put away wet, day after day . . . for a lifetime.

Rolex isn’t the most complex (that is now Vacheron Constantin), isn’t the most edgy in terms of design (that would be Urwerk, MB&F, Hautlence, and HYT), and it can’t really be considered the best value proposition (that is probably Seiko). But Rolex is the absolute best at what it does.

Rolex makes incredibly reliable, mid-range watches from the ground up (truly) and sets the standard for precision and consistency across the entire production.

I’m sure many readers will have a lot to say (good and bad) about my thoughts, and I encourage a lively discussion. As a man who builds things for a living, and enjoys watches more so for the interesting mechanics than the heritage, Rolex has always been an outlier for me.

Now, with a couple new references and some interesting design details, Rolex has made it onto my “it” list if only for reasons that are more to do with visual interest and the desire to own something that is the best in its class than with prestige or legacy.

Consider me a convert.

Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum

Rolex Day-Date 40 in platinum

Though people might say converting to what virtually everybody else already likes might just make me a holdout that has finally given in. But I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum (being a drummer it seemed the right thing to do), so I’m fine with showing up late to the party.

At least I know I have my thoroughly understood reasons for waiting and for deciding to change.

Oh, the power of my own opinion!

So, does a Rolex really need a breakdown. Really? Sure!

  • Wowza Factor * 7.5 This is where Rolex sits for me, especially considering the most recent design changes, a solid 75 percent. This is saying that it wows me more than three quarters of all watches!
  • Late Night Lust Appeal * 36.5 » 357.94/s2 Serious G forces for these references, enough to make most people flat-line and me stay up for hours drooling over the first Rolex I adore for its own sake!
  • M.G.R. * 65 Very high score for a largely “standard” movement that receives very little decorative attention. Its score is due to the overwhelmingly incredible manufacturing and tolerances put into a movement designed to truly (and I mean truly) last a lifetime.
  • Added-Functionitis * Moderate Hmm, could the added functions for the Day-Date be a day and a date function? Still one of the most functional added function pairings on a watch and I suggest prescription-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream for the crowning achievement! (Sorry for the horrible Rolex related pun.)
  • Ouch Outline * 10 – Smashing your thumb with a three-pound sledge while hammering out wheel studs on a 26-year-old Honda Accord. Okay, that is weirdly specific but it is also how my latest Monday night was spent, and I would do it again to get this baby on my wrist!
  • Mermaid Moment * For me, about ten years. For you, ten seconds. It took me a long time to accept that Rolex makes some pretty awesome stuff, but for the non-judgmental among you it should only take a few moments to come to the same conclusion. And when you do, the reverend will be waiting for the rehearsal ceremony.
  • Awesome Total * 697.8 Take the year the Day-Date was introduced (1956) and divide by the diameter of the case (40). Add to that the water resistance rating in feet (300) and multiply by the number of functions in the name (2) and the result is one heck of an awesome total!

For more information, please visit www. rolex.com.

Quick Facts
Case: 40 mm, platinum (ref. 228206) or white gold (ref. 228239)
Movement: automatic Caliber 3255
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; day, date
Price: 59,600 Swiss francs (platinum); 35,800 Swiss francs (white gold)

11 replies
  1. AC
    AC says:

    Well put. Your journey to discover what makes Rolex an attractive proposition mirrors mine.
    While I ignored the make and still find some models too glitzy for me; the fact is the damn
    things work and work well.

    I went through a few watches, that all had issues before I thought, I just need to get
    something reliable and well engineered. I did and am pleased with the Rolexes.

  2. Dave
    Dave says:

    Your “journey” towards Rolex was nothing at all like mine. I was wearing a Rolex before you were born. Your bias is silly, and “copying and overexposure” is cover for the fact that you are sooo sophisticated and knowledgable about watches that to stoop to owning something the common people might recognize is unbearable. Do people just stand around in awe when you opine? Tone down the ego, junior. It’s deafening. All 7 of us that read this piece agree.

    • Joshua Munchow
      Joshua Munchow says:

      Ouch, Dave. I guess you put me in my place. I’m sorry that my childlike ego came across too much in this piece. Sometimes I forget that my age is directly equal to my experience and knowledge on any given subject, including the topic of my own opinions, compared to any person that is more advanced in age than I. Surely I will remember this in the future as I make sure to understand that the general consensus is more important than my own thoughts for how I feel about a watch. Thank you so much for reading my stuff, even though it angered you so. I hope you will find peace in other articles by more respected authors on this site.

      Truly humbled,
      Joshua Munchow

      • Brian
        Brian says:

        Touche…but seriously this was a great article. If the author cannot opine then what good is it to have a review…at all….
        Thanks for the fine review Mssr. Munchow. Do it some more.

    • PeteJ
      PeteJ says:

      I can’t help but think that, even five or so years on, that Dave came home to find wife no4 in bed with the cable guy and decided to take it out on you.

      I enjoyed the piece, thought it was a nice journey and an interesting perspective and unlike our mutual friend, I thought you were perfectly entitled to an opinion on the subject. My journey is different to yours too, but reading about yours enriches mine.

      Thanks for the article.

  3. Fraser Robison
    Fraser Robison says:

    Started getting interested in and collecting watches in late 60’s early 70’s. Got my first serious watch in 1974 a Breiling Chronomatic, wish I still had it, because I couldn’t quite afford a Navitimer 806. Lost it in a house move and claimed it on my house insurance. So got my first Rolex, a 15210 34mm date in 1996. Not impressed. It kept terrible time losing almost 5 minutes in a few days. Went back to Rolex but it never really improved so I sold it after 3 years of very little use for less than half what I paid for it.
    From that I got my dream watch a 1971 Heuer Autavia which I still have and love.
    But Rolex just would not go away. So after selling my shares in the business I purchased a GMT Master 2 in 2014, not the Batman, one I really don’t like it at all, the plain black ceramic bezel.
    My impression. What have Rolex done! What an improvement. It’s a great watch and only loses 20 secs over 4 days not 5 minutes!
    I have since purchased from an authorised Rolex dealer an Explorer a steel blackface Daytone and bought the wife one of the new 26mm Oysters with red grape dial two weeks ago. Hers is the best timekeeper losing only 2 secs a day in everyday on the wrist use.
    I also now have an Oysterquartz, love it.
    The Explore is for day to day use and has taken a lot of abuse over the past year and a half, case and bracelet are seriously scratched and bashed and it still keeps brilliant time.
    My favourite watch, sorry guys, my Chopard Mille Miglia.
    By the way in 1996 the 15210 was selling for £1200. Now 20 years old they sell for £1600-£1700!!!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] It must be said that I have gotten a lot of flak for my apparent dislike of Rolex, including being told by one reader that since he has been buying Rolexes since before I was born, he believes I am not really entitled to have an opinion about the brand (I am paraphrasing his somewhat sharp response to my post A Very Rolexy Rolex Discussion: 3 Reasons The Rolex Day-Date 40 Convinced Me). […]

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