Havana Dial 1803 Rolex Day-Date

The joys of Rolex Day-Date collecting are in many ways like the joys of mild alcoholism. In both, the satisfaction is to be found in minor variation. With any Day-Date, you are getting what is in essence the same functional capability, proportion, and design. But the details vary endlessly in extremely intricate ways such as lapis dials, claw indices, or Floretine finishing. In drink, you’re always getting to the same place. But Château Lafite Rothschild will get you there gently with sweet silky terroir, where Bruichladdich will choke your throat with smoke and convince you that, actually, you can still play the piano with blinding alacrity. This is the mojito of Day-Dates, a watch delivered to Spain but known as the Havana.


In fact, if this were a Phillips auction, they’d probably call it something ridiculous like ‘The Half-Ghost of Havana’. That’s because it’s not just the desirable warm, matte-taupe tone collectors call Havana, but its printed text has faded considerably with Spanish sunshine. In some lights and angles, it vanishes altogether. Some will be familiar with this ghost dial effect from 1601 Datejusts or 17000 Oysterquartzs, but it happened to Day-Dates from the 70s as well. It’s a bit less common though, as most Day-Dates have black printed text. White text capable of fading out only occurs on a few 1803 dials, amongst them the Havana. Of those few dials, not many experience enough wrist time in strong enough sun to burn out the text print as this example has.


One of the other subtleties of the Havana dial, and a small few others, is that its tritium pips often interacted with the lacquer coat. That interaction created white fading around each pip, almost as if they’re glowing. This effect has been called a fried egg patina, aptly. It’s not known why some dials did this and others did not, but the patina appears to happen with and without UV. Just another bizarre slight error that Rolex would probably rather not admit to, but what was once fault is now desirable. Havana dials aren’t the rarest Day-Dates, but they’re definitely not common. In a similar manner, mojitos with Diplomático Planas aged rum as a base aren’t common. But both are worth a try. Perhaps together? Now that’s a dream I’m not yet living but yearn to.


This example sports a very full case, it’s a lovely thing to see. It’s also on a President bracelet with minimal surface wear across the highly polished links. Its dial, as we’ve covered, is just damn interesting. No damage visible, except the kind we like. It comes with its original leather Rolex buckle from a well-regarded retailer.

Find this Havana 1803 here from Watchworks Haarlem for 21000 EUR.