One of the great things about the depth and diversity of the Rolex collection is that there is a perfect watch for just about every stage of your life.
Our tastes inevitably change as we get older, as in all things, and what we desired or sought after in our youth may be different to what we crave once we have a few more miles on the clock.
In the case of a Rolex watch, very often they are bought to commemorate an important milestone in life. And two of the biggest occasions, usually separated by a significant number of years, are the day you graduate and the day you become a father.
Fortunately, the brand has several models which are ideal for both landmarks, and below we detail each one.
Rolex Watches for Dads
Becoming a father is probably the most important event in any man’s life, and a momentous occasion deserves a momentous watch.
In the Rolex annals, no watch is more significant than the Day-Date; the flagship offering from the flagship brand since 1956.
Otherwise known as The President, the model has long been seen as the number one choice for the elite. Formerly, that meant leading figures in the worlds of business or politics. But more recently, prominent players from just about any walk of life, from hip hop to sports to entertainment, have taken advantage of the Day-Date’s implied gravitas.
For their part, Rolex has made the series second only to the Datejust in terms of different options in order to cast their net as widely as possible.
So there are two sizes available, 36mm and 40mm. The metals on offer are the three flavors of gold or the shimmering luxury of platinum (just to underline its star status, there has never been any steel in the history of the Day-Date, not even in Rolesor, and probably never will be). And the choice of bezels are either fluted or gem-set, with the more understated smooth type being discontinued this year.
As for the dials, again there is no shortage of choices, and they range from the studiedly sober to the colorfully whimsical. The latest releases revisited some of the famously bright Stella dials from the 1970s in energetic shades of pink, red, yellow, or green. Most coveted of all, however, are the ice blue faces exclusive to the platinum models.
Of course, all this pomp comes at a price and the Day-Date is one of the more expensive pieces in the Rolex lineup. However, preowned vintage models, such as the ref. 1803, are some of the most tempting bargains luxury watchmaking can offer. Excellent examples can be obtained for far south of $10,000.
What does wearing a Rolex Day-Date say about you?
Like the Datejust, what your President says about you depends very much on the type you chose. As a watch, it can be as attention-grabbing or as limelight-shunning as you wish, but there is a fundamental message common throughout. If you decide to buy a Day-Date, it sets you out as someone who has an appreciation for the very finest things in life. More than that though, if you buy it to celebrate becoming a father, it is, to paraphrase an advert from a rival, something you are just looking after until it is handed down to the next generation.
All dads want to be their children’s hero, and for that, they are going to need a hero’s watch.
The Rolex Daytona, perhaps the most famous chronograph ever made, fits the bill perfectly. In fact, the piece has a rags to riches story of its own. First released in 1963, it was a watch Rolex couldn’t even give away for the first 25-years of its life. Its manually winding movement was the main reason sales suffered so much, coming along in an age where an automatic caliber was the least the public demanded.
That all changed in its second iteration, starting in 1988, when it was powered by the El Primero self-winding chrono movement from legendary makers, Zenith. Suddenly, the so-called Zenith Daytonas couldn’t be built fast enough to keep up with demand (in a situation which has played out pretty much ever since with all of Rolex’s offerings).
Since 2000, the brand has fitted their premium mechanical stopwatch with a superb in-house caliber, the Cal. 4130, recognized as one of the best of its type in the world.
These days, the Daytona has the most variations in the entire Professional Collection, and is presented in every type of metal Rolex uses, including platinum. The dial range takes in some fantastic color combinations, with either contrasting or coordinated sub counters, and the choice of either a metal or Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel. Best of all, it is one of the few watches fitted with the brand’s Oysterflex strap. The switch from a steel or gold bracelet to a rubber strap transforms the personality of the Daytona more than just about anything else, taking it from a sober and serious performer to a luxuriously laidback sporty companion.
It has been the definitive racer’s watch for decades now and is still unbelievably popular, so much so that even getting hold of one can be a real challenge. The easiest points of entry remain the Zenith models from the ‘80s and ‘90s. But the absolute pinnacle of Daytona ownership are those once-shunned first generation models. Among the most expensive vintage Rolex watches you can buy, if you’re feeling especially affluent seek out the ‘exotic dial’ examples, better known by the name of one of the most enduring heroes of old Hollywood, Paul Newman.
What does wearing a Rolex Daytona say about you?
Even in its most modest steel getup, the Rolex Daytona is something which will get noticed wherever you go. The watch sets the wearer apart as not only someone with an eye for detail, but as a risk taker and adrenaline junkie.
Quite simply the best mechanical stopwatch at this price point, the Daytona is a high performance legend.
Rolex’s most accomplished watch, the Sky-Dweller marks a rare foray into the world of advanced complications for the brand.
The majority of their catalog is made up of simple time-and-date pieces, and so the Sky-Dweller’s dual time zone and annual calendar functions set it apart and make it the perfect luxury traveller’s watch.
Like the Daytona, the model had a slow start to life, but has become more and more popular recently following a subtle rethink in its styling. It is another watch that has benefitted massively after being fitted with the strap, taking it away from its former ‘Day-Date with extra features’ persona into a successful entity in its own right.
Nevertheless it still sits in the Classic Collection of more formal models rather than in the Professional Collection alongside the tool watches. Thanks to the absence of any supplemental push pieces on the case to control the various actions, that is maybe the most impressive element of an already remarkable watch. All the functions are controlled by a combination of the winding crown and the fluted Ring Command bezel, the latter of which is actually a turnable three-position switch which locks and unlocks the different operations. It is a huge feat of engineering, controlled by the in-house Cal. 9001 which, with 380 components, is Rolex’s most complex movement ever.
Although the Sky-Dweller was only launched in 2012, there are already plenty of options to choose from, with every metal bar platinum represented. Dial colors live at the more conservative end of the spectrum, with mostly monochrome faces with a few champagne and blue thrown in. The brown dial on the Everose gold model is a particular standout however, and has an impeccably warm look overall.
In short, this could be the most versatile model Rolex currently offers. It can look at home just about anywhere, it has all the most useful complications for a working watch and has a style which is both quirky and beautifully throughout. For a marque not short on exceptional timepieces, the Sky-Dweller may just be the most impressive of them all.
What does wearing a Rolex Sky-Dweller say about you?
As notable as it is, and with its sales improving steadily year over year, the Sky-Dweller is still not one of the most recognizable pieces in the collection. That means it has an inherent mystery factor and, coupled with its unorthodox visuals, that makes the watch an instant conversation starter.
Looking at it from a new dad’s point of view, the model is set to be a future classic and, therefore, one of the best to buy in terms of family heirloom status.
Rolex Watches for Grads
What better for the recent graduate right at the beginning of their own journey into the world, than the ultimate sports watch?
It was, indisputably, the piece which started it all. While it may not have been the first ever dive model, it was most certainly the one which elevated the genre until became and continues to be the most popular category of sports watch.
The Sub’s strength has always lain in its simplicity. The signature rounded tonneau case, high contrast, extremely legible dial and a bezel engraved with a 60-minute scale. From those foundations you can choose from different metals, either classic stainless steel, white or yellow gold, or Rolesor. Colorways range from black to green to blue or, going back into the archives, a vintage ‘Serti’ example with a slate or champagne dial with diamond and sapphiremarkers.
But the basics haven’t changed during its now near 70-year lifespan, for the simple fact that Rolex just got it right the first time. There’s a reason it is, by far, the most emulated and downright counterfeited watch in the world.
Handsome, elegant, tough and hardworking, it may well be the best choice out there for the ambitious graduate.
What does wearing a Rolex Submariner say about you?
Worn by everyone from James Bond to Steve McQueen, there’s no doubt there is an inherent masculinity to the Submariner. However, there is also an incomparable understatement and subtlety, particularly in the traditional steel case/black dial makeup. Best of all, if this is going to be the first and only watch in a burgeoning collection, its chameleonic charm can go effortlessly from workplace meeting to after hours hang without ever looking out of place.
The Datejust is Rolex’s longtime bestseller, and just about the only model you have any hope of picking up new at an Authorized Dealer.
Chances are, if you know someone who collects Rolex watches, they will have at least one Datejust in there somewhere.
However, just because they are pretty well ubiquitous, it is still unusual to see two that are exactly the same. That is because there is a simply bewildering number of different versions available to choose from, making the Datejust the epitome of the everyman (and woman) watch.
Today, it is offered in four sizes (28mm, 31mm, 36mm and 41mm), six different metals, three different bezel types and three different bracelets. Add to that the almost uncountable number of dial variations, and the possible combinations of elements are practically limitless.
Want to stand out and grab the attention? Try a 36mm, yellow Rolesor piece with mother-of-pearl dial and gem-set bezel. Happy to sit under-the-radar? There’s a 41mm, steel model with smooth bezel and Oyster bracelet with your name on it.
In that way, it doesn’t matter at all which career field the recent graduate is entering into; from showbiz to chartered accountancy, there is a Datejust perfectly suited to you.
What does wearing a Rolex Datejust say about you?
The Datejust serves as a blank canvas. Rolex give you the underpinnings, and it is up to you which adornments you add to it.
In that way, it can say just about anything you want, but there is always the same fundamental graceful elegance in its visuals. At the end of the day, it is a Rolex, and that’s all that matters.
If the Submariner is understated, then the Explorer is arguably the most discreet and unobtrusive watch Rolex has ever made.
Released the year before the Sub, it could also make a case for being the origin of the tool watch, created to celebrate the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.
However, it has always been something of a cult favorite among the Rolex fraternity. Along with the likes of the Air-King and the Milgauss, the Explorer has never received the sort of overwhelming adoration normally directed at some of the more usual suspects in the range.
But that underdog status is now paying off. Collectors with watch cases and safety deposit boxes stuffed with Daytonas, GMT-Masters and the like are now actively searching out the ‘forgotten’ pieces for their novelty value. And the Explorer’s austere beauty more often than not puts it top of the list.
What does wearing a Rolex Explorer say about you?
Sometimes called ‘the Rolex for those who don’t want people to know they’re wearing a Rolex’, the Explorer is perfect for the graduate who is self-confident enough that they don’t need their watch to do the talking for them. Only those with a deeper knowledge of the brand will spot it, and if they do, it is likely to elicit nothing more than a nod of respect and admiration. While others may choose a grandstanding watch to get them noticed, Explorer wearers tend to be a class act.
James Bond might have worn a Submariner, but his author, Ian Fleming, wore an Explorer.