Salmon Stella 1803 Rolex Day-Date
I’m as fond of a good metaphor for communicating my views on any given watch as China are of polluting oceans. The Day-Date, more than almost any other watch, lends itself to a particular analogy: drink. There are endless variants, each quite personally expressive, and they all get you to about the same place. In the same way that a night out with a few bad decisions is par for the course at a certain stage of life, the Day-Date is part and parcel of uniform for a particular crowd. One may explore both drink and Day-Dates endlessly until their liver or bank balance surrender, trying something new every day. Or at least, that’s what I’m hoping. It’s working so far. But this Stella, a vanishingly rare salmon variant, hits analogy closer to home than most do.
In the same way that I’m sure Madonna’s nose starts to itch as she enters a party, my eyes always dart for the nearest bottle of scotch at a given bar. So one night, about a decade ago, I decided I’d try and live a little more frugally. I ordered something called Yamazaki, a whisky from Osaka which at the time was about half as much as a pour of Lagavulin. Much to my surprise, it was the only liquid I’d ever encountered both cheaper and more delicious than Islay’s water of life. It even convinced me that I could, in fact, still play the piano. But that was 2014. And a lot of other, well, drunks, had the same revelatory experience in years to come. Today, production hasn’t met demand. Japanese whisky is simply silly money, there’s not enough to go around. It’s fantastic, niche, characterful, floral in its delicacy, but not mass produced. It even has its own thematic auctions. Can you see where this is going yet?
Stella dials are the height of many’s Day-Date collecting journey but only of the last decade or so. They’re handcrafted (multiple hand mixed lacquer layers built up over time to achieve this depth), made in relatively small numbers, riotously bright, and today buying one generally means you have oil-level money. In fact, these were originally produced for the Middle East and Asia then proliferated to other markets. One also has to have tried quite a few Day-Dates before the hallway of Stella appears, this isn’t where anyone starts. It’s a cask strength Day-Date, if ever there were one. And this salmon dial is about the rarest tone out there, up with lilac. So without wishing to put too fine a point on this thing: it has to be the Yamazaki 2016 Limited. Which I have exactly one bottle of that I’ve been too scared to drink for five years because somehow a bottle of whisky can now be worth thousands. Fitting.
This example is made by its dial, which has an even and consistent tone. Some of the print text around and under the E of Rolex has worn, same with the right hand side of the Superlative Chronometer line. It’s not uncommon for the lacquer to interact with print on these, that may be what we’re seeing. It doesn’t look like a handstrike to me. But there are no cracks or hairlines, which plague the majority of Stella dials. The case has seen alight polish, but has full lugs that wouldn’t be a problem for me personally. Its President bracelet appears in great condition likewise. It comes from a well-regarded California retailer, watch only.