If you thought the Day-Date couldn’t get more glamorous, you were wrong. Sure, Rolex’s Day-Date has played host to many an exotic dial. But even among the coveted stella, missoni, rubellite, wood burl, and aventurine dials, many consider the depth of lapis lazuli blue the most desirable. Moreover, this Lapis Lazuli is one without ornamentation, completely free of diamond-set dial furniture. Here contrasted against a 36mm yellow gold case with an original President bracelet, this is undoubtedly one of the purest and most bewitching expressions of exotic Day-Date that has ever left Wilsdorf’s doors.
The five-digit series of Day-Dates showed up 1978 and paired the functionality of new a high-beat movement (for accuracy) with quick-set date. Visually, the recipe altered in equal measure. This was where sapphire first appeared in the Day-Date, and similarly where the dial first became flat from the 1803’s ‘pie-pan’ shape. The 18000 generation was in production for almost exactly a decade, ceasing in 1988.
Rolex became wildly experimental with their stone dials in this generation, far more than the 1800 generation. For these stone dials, the day and date windows were framed in precious metal to match the case, a detail easily overlooked that I just adore. Many of these watches were reserved for friends of the brand and their most loyal clients. The lapis we see here has a deep royal blue shimmer, but also sports flecks of gold. Those gold sparkles come from pyrite that develops naturally in the stone. The white flecks which are less abundant come from calcite, the veins we see in stone. The fact that it happens to perfectly match this 18k gold case is a coincidence, but one Rolex likely anticipated. The harmony is so in tune that the stone looks like it was born to reside here.
This example is in overall great condition. Lapis stone is extremely fragile. It is not uncommon to see significant cracks or threads running through dials. This dial is whole, but it should be noted that two very light cracks, almost invisible, run from the upper 12 to the day window. Its case is full, but has seen a light polish. That 8385 president bracelet looks precisely as it should for its age, with minimal stretch. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Lapis Lazuli 18038 here from Horare for 64900 EUR.