The Rolex Day-Date, better known as the President watch, is an icon among icons. Introduced in 1956 as Rolex’s flagship timepiece, the Day-Date has become synonymous with success, power, and status thanks to its precious metal construction and recognizable design. While all Rolex Presidential watches are fashioned from either 18k gold or 950 platinum, some references are more lavish thanks to a generous dose of diamonds. Case in point is the opulent Rolex Day-Date 118388, which offers a handful of very special details not found on many Rolex President watches. Let’s get a closer look.

Rolex Day-Date 118388
Rolex Day-Date 118388 marries gold and diamonds

About The Six-Digit Day-Date 118xxx

In 2000, Rolex launched a new six-digit reference family of the Day-Date with 118xxx references numbers. While these watches sported the same 36mm dimensions and Caliber 3155 movement of the previous generation, the Day-Date 118xx watches boasted heavier bracelets with solid center links and improved clasps. The most archetypical model of this particular generation is without a doubt the Day-Date 118238, which features a case, fluted bezel, and President bracelet all in 18k yellow gold.

Rolex President 118238 with a Jubilee dial

Similar to previous iterations, Rolex also rounded out the Day-Date collection with diamond-set bezel versions with 1183xx reference numbers (note the “3” digit replaces the “2”, which indicates a diamond-set bezel.

  • Day-Date 1182xx – metal bezels
  • Day-Date 1183xx – diamond-set bezels

As is always the case, the last digit of a Rolex watch reference number will tell you what material the watch is made from:

  • 5: Everose Gold
  • 6: Platinum
  • 8: Yellow Gold
  • 9: White Gold

Remember, there are no steel or two-tone steel/gold Day-Date President watches—only gold or platinum.

Rolex Day-Date President 118388

The Rolex Day-Date ref. 118388 was part of the first run of the six-digit President watches; therefore it was released in 2000. Not only does the Day-Date ref. 118388 include a diamond-set bezel (with 52 stones) but it also features sumptuous diamond-set lugs—which is not something you see too often on Rolex watches.

The case of the Rolex Day-Date 118388 has diamonds on the bezel and lugs
The case of the Rolex Day-Date 118388 has diamonds on the bezel and lugs

Moving onto the dial, we see that this particular Day-Date ref. 118388 also includes diamond-set indices. There are a total of ten diamonds to mark out the hours, leaving room at 12 o’clock for the day window and 3 o’clock for the date window. As with almost all Rolex watches with date windows, the sapphire crystal protecting the dial is furnished with the customary Cyclops lens to magnify the date. A closer look at the dial reveals that the champagne colored surface is embossed with a repetitive “Rolex” pattern, which is known as the Jubilee dial.

The diamond-set Super President Karat bracelet
The diamond-set Super President Karat bracelet

Last but certainly not least, is the watch’s spectacular diamond-set Super President Karat bracelet ref 8485/8. Not all Day-Date ref. 118388 comes with this ultra-luxurious bracelet but this particular example does. The distinct silhouette of the famed President bracelet, characterized by a three-piece configuration of semi-circular links, is unmistakable, yet the “Karat” version stands out for its diamond-embellished center links with a total of 288 brilliant-cut diamonds.

It must be emphasized that these are all Rolex factory diamonds where the precious gems are sourced, selected, and set by the brand’s in-house master jewelry. While there are plenty of Rolex watches with after-market diamond settings, nothing beats the real deal since Rolex is known to be one of the most masterful in the business when it comes to gem-set timepieces.

Rolex Caliber 3155 Automatic Movement

As the name of the Rolex watch suggests, the Day-Date is a calendar wristwatch that indicates the day of the week (written out in full and available in dozens of languages). Identical to all Day-Date watches of the era, ref. 118388 is powered by the in-house Rolex Caliber 3155 automatic movement, which made its debut in 1988.

Beneath the gold caseback of the Day-Date 118238 is Caliber 3155

Caliber 3155 beats at a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour and supplies the watch with a power reserve of around 48 hours. Furthermore, the Caliber 3155 has double quickset functionality, which means that both the day and date windows can be set independently from the timekeeping hands. Finally, the movement also includes the “hacking seconds” feature, which means that the seconds hand will come to a complete stop when the winding crown is pulled out to permit precise time setting.

While the style of the gold and diamond Day-Date ref. 118388 watch is more suited to dressier occasions and not so much for poolside fun, it does—like all modern President watches—have a water-resistant rating of 100 meters (330 feet).

With its factory diamond-set lugs, bezel, dial, and bracelet, the Day-Date ref. 118388 with the Super President Karat bracelet is one of the most striking Rolex President watches ever made and rarely seen out in the wild.