Typically with watches it’s like it’s with pets: you don’t select them, they select you. I haven’t had this occur for fairly a while, nevertheless it did occur not too long ago to me after I stepped into the workplace of WatchWorks Haarlem.
I used to be assembly with proprietor Farid Froon to debate a mutual undertaking and had zero intentions of shopping for a watch, not to mention a Rolex Day-Date Reference 1803 from 1976. Nevertheless, this Rolex occurred to be on Froon’s desk because it had simply are available in from service. As a real watch junkie, I needed to strive it on. And that’s one thing that I in all probability shouldn’t have achieved.
Falling into place
It was a type of moments when all the pieces falls into place. And my speedy infatuation with the watch might have had one thing to do with my outfit of the day. It was beautiful climate, good for khakis and an Italian linen shirt, which each flawlessly matched the look of this Reference 1803. All fell into place, and at that second I knew that this needed to turn out to be my Day-Date.
As it’s a Rolex, particulars matter, particularly for this Reference 1803. It was made in 1976, the final 12 months that Rolex provided this reference with a café au lait-colored dial and white pad printing.
This latter element makes all of the distinction as it’s much less pronounced than black printing and below sure angles it appears to vanish altogether. It offers the dial some ghost-like traits that solely additional add to the attraction of the watch.
Froon had already nicknamed it “El Fantasma de la Habana,” in English “The ghost of Havana.” There’s a lot to say for this nickname as I can simply think about myself sporting a pleasant linen go well with whereas smoking a cigar whereas strolling down a boulevard in Havana on my approach to a wonderfully chilled Cuba Libre. The one downside with that is that I don’t smoke, have by no means been to Cuba, and like different cocktails over the Cuba Libre. However that’s all irrelevant.
The attraction of a classic Rolex Day-Date is an element patina and half preservation. I don’t like watches which have an excessive amount of patina, however I additionally don’t need them to look almost new. These elements need to be in steadiness to be proper for me. And this Reference 1803 is the right mixture.
The case remains to be clear and preserves that sharp look. The tritium dots on the dial have broken the realm proper round them, which makes them not solely extra seen but in addition look one thing like fried eggs. It offers the Day-Date a way of classic attraction, extra so as a result of Reference 1803 has a pie-pan dial. This impact is comparatively modest as solely the part with the minute monitor is curved. Whereas this doesn’t flip it into an Omega Constellation, it does add a component of depth and extra play of sunshine.
As a yellow gold Rolex of this age, the metallic has a slight trace of pink to it as a result of the alloy used at the moment contained the next quantity of copper. It makes the watch look hotter, and maybe that can be why Cuba got here proper to thoughts after I noticed it. This tone actually involves life on the brushed surfaces on prime of the lugs. I all the time favor yellow gold over pink as I discover the latter usually a bit too harsh and benefit from the basic look of yellow gold extra.
This tone, nonetheless, presents the right steadiness to fulfill each cravings.
To bracelet or to not bracelet
The President bracelet that initially got here with this Reference 1803 is now not there. Your guess is nearly as good as mine as to what occurred to it within the 46 years of this watch’s existence. It could have simply been worn out and bought for scrap gold.
In all honesty, I don’t thoughts. This Reference 1803 would have fairly a unique look with a gold bracelet. It’s quite a lot of gold, maybe even an excessive amount of of factor, as it will additionally overpower the attraction of the light-brown dial and its delicate coloration distinction to the case. On a leather-based strap, like this one from Molequin, the watch is extra basic and toned down. It offers you one other factor to play with.
On this mild earth tone that Molequin calls Sandstone you get a tone-in-tone impact, however put it on a blue strap or, one among my favorites, British racing inexperienced, and the Reference 1803 reveals a unique facet to its character.
With a diameter of 36 mm this Day-Date is completely proportioned for my wrist. It has presence and doesn’t look small, however on the identical time is it not overpowering like I’m sporting a block of gold with a crown that grabs the eye of these round me.
A giant bonus with this watch is that whereas its authentic bracelet is misplaced, it got here with an authentic and period-correct yellow gold Rolex buckle. This can be a element that in all probability additionally contributed to creating this Reference 1803 instantly really feel like my watch after I strapped it on.
It’s a element that gives a sure attraction and one which turned this Rolex into my watch.
Fast Info Rolex Day-Date Reference 1803 from 1976
Case: 36 mm, yellow gold
Motion: computerized Rolex Caliber 1556, fourth technology of the Day-Date motion, 2.5 Hz/19,800 vph frequency, 26 jewels
Features: hours, minutes, (hacking) seconds; day, date
12 months of manufacture: 1976
* This text was first printed 22 March 2022 at Why I Purchased It: Classic Rolex Day-Date Reference 1803