Coral Red Stella Dial 1803 Rolex Day-Date

The emoji Day-Date isn’t the first time Rolex let their hair down, but when they did so in the past, man, it was just so much more tasteful and elegant. They say subtlety is an art that’s been lost on our generation and I’m inclined to agree. Back in the 70s, this ‘cherry’ red Stella dial would’ve been almost gaudy. But removed from its original context, today, it’s never been more subdued or more lovely. Sure, it’s a bright red and yellow gold Day-Date; I get it. But it’s the kind of loud that rewards your glance. Stella dials have been a bit sidelined in the furor surrounding stone dials over the last few years. Stone dials are bewitching, magnificent in their own right each. But Stella dials, well, they’re simply more fun.

Stella dials are a rare example of true handcraft from Rolex, multiple hand applied lacquer layers built up over time to achieve this depth. Stella was a company based in Châtelaine and Geneva who supplied the a special brightly-pigmented lacquer to Rolex, made in relatively small numbers, and riotously bright. Many think these were originally produced for the Middle East and Asia then proliferated to other markets, some say even made to mirror colors of flags. This is a Type 1 dial, from early production. There are two reds in these early dials: a dark oxblood which was more common, then this much brighter coral which is also often called cherry. Neither is ever easy to chase down, particularly coral. They haven’t been since Eric Ku and Tariq Malik both noted them as ‘worth watching closely’ a few years ago, now an established cult classic for Day-Date collecting. And in white metal, unless your last name is Bacs, forget about it.

Stella dials have been on an arc dramatic enough to rival the best stone dials. They’ve risen from around 35-40K USD in 2015 to well over 100K for the rarer tones, and settled back down around 75K (with a huge variance for the very rare dials like yellow, seafoam green, lilac, or in many white metals which were always less seen). Day-Date collecting is always about the details, the idea is the same, but you’re going very different places. Despite the immense collectability, I’ve always felt Stella dials take themselves just a bit less seriously, but still very much in immensely great taste and something that has to be studied to be appreciated. I can’t help the Porsche parallels, they write themselves, it’s the PTS Touring of Day-Dates.

This example checks all the boxes. The Type 1 dial is clean, clear, and crisp. Often some of the printed text can get a bit patchy on these, not the case here. All tritium is cream and even. Further, its day & date wheels have an attractive warmth from time in the sun. The case is full with defined edges. It comes from a well-regarded Dubai retailer.