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There are many Rolex watches that have picked up nicknames along the way, often given by watch collectors and enthusiasts as an easy way to label a model without having to recite a reference number. One of the most famous of these nicknames is the Rolex Presidential, which is a term that is now used more by Rolex fans than the official name of the watch. But what exactly is the Rolex Presidential and how did it get its famous moniker? Let’s find out.

Day-Date 40 Rolex Presidential Watch
Rolex Presidential Watch

The Rolex Day-Date Watch And The President Bracelet

In 1956, Rolex unveiled a new watch model called the Day-Date. As its name implies, the watch featured a duo of calendar indications on the dial—one for the date and one for the day. It should be mentioned that the Rolex Day-Date watch was the first chronometer wristwatch to have the day of the week written out in full instead of an abbreviation. Furthermore, to emphasize the luxuriousness of the watch, the Day-Date has only ever been made in precious metals, whether 18k gold or platinum.

Day-Date Dial
The day window at 12 o’clock and date window are 3 o’clock

Accompanying the then-new watch model was also a brand new bracelet style. The bracelet featured semi-circular links in a three-piece link configuration and Rolex called it the President bracelet—which gives us the first clue to how the watch eventually picked up the Rolex Presidential nickname.

Yellow Gold Day-Date 36 Rolex Presidential
The Rolex President bracelet features half-moon links in a three-piece configuration

The Rolex President bracelet, always crafted in either 18k yellow gold or 950 platinum, is one of the company’s most recognizable designs. It is exclusively available with the Day-Date watch and a few precious metal Datejust models for women.

The Day-Date’s Presidential Connection

Thanks to its precious metal construction, classic style, and inherent prestige, the Day-Date has been the go-to luxury watch for some of the world’s most powerful people—including a bevy of American Presidents. In fact, when President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office as the 36th American President (November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969) he was often photographed with a full yellow gold Rolex Day-Date on his wrist, complete with the President bracelet.

Vintage Day-Date President

Not one to miss a marketing opportunity, Rolex released an advertising campaign during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency with the tag line “The presidents’ watch.” accompanying a Day-Date-clad arm holding a red phone—an image understood by everyone during the era to represent the President’s hand. The ad copy further stated, “It costs one thousand dollars to own the Rolex Day-Date, the watch you see so often on the wrists of presidents everywhere.”

From then on, the name stuck and the Day-Date is simply called the Rolex President or Rolex Presidential watch.

Platinum Day-Date Rolex Presidential
Day-Date President in Platinum

Side note, other American Presidents that have been seen wearing Rolex Day-Date President (during and outside of their terms) watches include Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump. President John F. Kennedy was given a Rolex Day-Date President by Marilyn Monroe with the engraving “JACK With love as always from MARILYN May 29th 1962” but he was rumored to have gotten rid of it immediately and never wore it. Moreover, President Dwight Eisenhower wore a full 18k yellow gold Datejust (given to him by Rolex) and Ronald Regan wore steel Rolex Datejust watches and President Barack Obama wears a Rolex Cellini Time in 18k white gold.

The Symbol of Accomplishment

In addition to political circles, the Day-Date has been worn by countless notable personalities, from business titans and wealthy heirs to renowned celebrities and accomplished professional athletes.

Rose gold Day-Date with an Oyster Bracelet

More so than any other watch, the Rolex Day-Date Presidential is a recognized symbol of personal success and accomplishment. Even Day-Date watches fitted with other types of bracelets like an Oyster bracelet, Pearlmaster bracelet, or a leather strap go by the President nickname. And Lady-Datejust watches paired with President bracelets are sometimes named the Rolex Lady Presidential watch.

Gold Datejust with President bracelet is known as the Ladies’ Rolex Presidential

Over the years, Rolex has expanded the Day-Date collection with different sizes and styles. Along with the choice of yellow gold, white gold, Everose gold, or platinum, there are also Day-Date watches with fluted bezels, smooth bezels, and gem-set bezels. Dial colors and designs are abundant but never without the famous pair of calendar windows at three and 12. Rolex has also experimented with different bracelets within the collection but the iconic President bracelet is still by far the most popular choice.

Whether the classic Day-Date 36, robust Day-Date II, or newest Day-Date 40, the watch will forever be known as the Rolex Presidential.

Written by

Celine Simon

Celine is a freelance luxury watch writer who has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal to Geneva to Dubai, Celine has lived all over the world but now calls Southern California home.