Rolex Day-Date Ref 1803 18ct 1966 Chocolate Dial
100% Genuine & All Original
Fully Inspected, Serviced and Guaranteed
A Beautifully Well Cared For And Lightly Used Example
“Officially Certified Superlative Chronometer” Cal. 1555, 26 Jewel Automatic Movement
Extremely Rare, Original & Unrestored Chocolate Dial with Original ‘Stick’ Hands
Large Size 37mm, 18ct Solid Gold Case, Excluding the Rolex Screw-down Crown
New, Dark Brown Alligator Leather Strap & Rolex Gold-Plated Buckle
All in Absolutely Top Grade & Simply Stunning Condition
VGWL 12 Months Written Warranty Included*
VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee
Rolex Presentation Box Included
Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery
Free UK Special Delivery
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Founded in 1905 in England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, the partnership became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving to its new Geneva headquarters in 1919. The success of the wristwatch can be largely attributed to many of Rolex’s innovations which made the company one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These have included its famous “Oyster” case — the world’s first water-resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and its “Perpetual” — the world’s first reliable, self-winding movement for the wristwatch, launched in 1933. These would form the foundation for Rolex’s Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956. Also and equally importantly, Rolex is known for its sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.
During the 1930s and ’40s, Rolex also became quite masterful at courting tremendous publicity and excitement through literally being ‘on hand’ during numerous record-breaking events. These were, for example, swimming the English Channel (1927), breaking the world automobile speed record (300mph, 1935), breaking the sound barrier (1947) and climbing Everest for the first time in 1953. No matter how well orchestrated these events came to be, we have to admire Rolex for becoming masters of self-promotion and capitalising on every opportunity with simultaneous worldwide marketing campaigns.
Of course, Rolex is now so ubiquitous it is almost its own kind of its currency. A Rolex is the watch you want on your wrist when you’re in a Third World country when revolution breaks out and there’s only one seat on the plane, and there’s a guy standing there with a machine gun! You give him the Rolex, and he’ll give you the seat!
The Rolex Day-Date has been Rolex’s range-topping, gentleman’s dress watch for over 60 years. First released in 1956 it soon became one of the most desirable “luxury” watches to own of its time.
The Day-Date is also referred to as the President or President’s watch, after a gift of the 150,000th Officially Certified Rolex Chronometer was accepted by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and of course, in 1952 Eisenhower won the presidential race, becoming the 34th president of the United States. A famous image shows Eisenhower wearing his Rolex while waving on his way to his inauguration in 1953. This was, of course, a master-stroke of marketing by Rolex who would later claim in successive advertising campaigns that the Rolex Day-Date was ‘the watch worn by Presidents everywhere’ – which later of course, became true.
Incidentally, Winston Churchill also wore a Rolex after he accepted his gift of the 100,000th Officially Certified Rolex Chronometer a few years earlier in 1947.
When the Day-Date was unveiled by Rolex in 1956, the watch immediately broke two records. It was not only the first watch to display the date as well as the day in its entirety, but it was also the first waterproof watch to display the date as well as the day, in its entirety.
Here we have a beautiful, very rare example of Rolex Model Reference 1803, with the Cal.1555, 25 Jewel movement from 1966. The very rare chocolate dial and wonderful ‘stick’ hands are in wonderful unrestored condition. Very early vintage Rolex Day-Dates of this quality and condition are now becoming very rare and much harder to find.
This original Rolex Day-Date dial is one of the most iconic of vintage Rolex Dial designs, which in essence carries through to this day. Here it looks stunning in its original chocolate, against the yellow gold case. The dial carries its original unrestored Rolex 1950s ‘stick’ hands and applied ‘baton’ hour indices with of course, the Rolex Coronet at the very top of the dial.
By far, the vast majority of Rolex day-date dials are found in silver, gold, champagne or black. Very rarely we find alternatives such as this superb chocolate dial of which we have only ever had one example before. As mentioned above, the dial here is completely original, unrestored and untouched. We have left this completely alone to retain its originality and charm, as it is in outstanding condition for a watch of this age. Usually we restore the dial as part of the overall restoration process of each watch we sell. This is because watch dials over 50 years old tend to become very unsightly due to damage from sunlight, moisture, and pollution which takes the form of fading, staining, spotting and pitting. Watch dials also become very easily marked when a watch is dismantled for servicing and this is often evidenced in the form of scratches. Here however, the dial is simply outstanding, with only some very slight fading and a little spotting. On the wrist, this is hardly noticeable, unless one has 20:20 vision and holds the watch six inches from the eye and obviously this is much more apparent under the very magnification of our photographer’s high power macro lens, and multi-megapixel camera sensor. If however, you would like the dial restoring to bring it back to completely original restored condition, we will be happy to do this free of charge.
The dial is signed ‘Rolex Oyster Perpetual’ and ‘Day-Date’ just under the Rolex Coronet with ‘Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified’ below and ‘Swiss’ at the very bottom.
The lens has been replaced with a new original and of course, carries the cyclops date window.
The Watch Movement
The original, high grade “Officially Certified Superlative Chronometer”, 26 Jewel, Calibre 1555 Day-Date movement is highly regarded for being very accurate, reliable and strong. The movement is in excellent condition and working perfectly following a thorough overhaul and service by our vintage Rolex specialist watchmaker. This means the movement has been completely disassembled to each of its component parts, cleaned and inspected under high magnification and then rebuilt using only original Rolex parts where required, before testing and careful calibration. The watch has just been re-tested (as it will be prior to delivery) and is running to within +7 seconds per day, which is outstanding for a vintage watch of this age! The movement also has a 48 hour power reserve when fully wound.
These movements are strong, accurate and very reliable making the watch appropriate for regular everyday use. This particular movement is in top condition and with regular servicing every 2 to 3 years, we would fully expect this watch to run very happily for many more decades to come! We are therefore pleased to offer a 12-month warranty on this watch movement* and servicing in the future. Signed ‘Montres Rolex SA Geneva Swiss’ and ‘Twenty Six Jewels’, along with the movement reference number DD67233 and the calibre number 1555.
*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.
The Watch Case
The 18ct yellow gold case measures 37mm, excluding the Rolex Oyster screw-down crown. The case has been carefully inspected inside and out and then had a very gentle cleaning and hand-polishing by our professional watchmaker. Even though this is an early example, no definition has been lost and all the lines, including the bezel, remain well defined. It is therefore in superb condition with no scratches, dings or similar marks visible to the naked eye.
The screw-down case-back is of full-thickness, having never been inscribed. The inside of the case-back carries the Rolex model number 1803 with 18ct Swiss Geneva hallmarks and is signed ‘Montres Rolex SA Geneva Switzerland’. Very importantly, the case also carries its clearly defined serial number, 2008191, between the lugs at ‘6’ and the model number 1803 again, between the lugs at 12. The case serial number confirms the date of manufacture of the watch as 1966.
Please note – although the waterproof seals have been replaced and this watch was originally specified as waterproof when new, this has not been tested and it is not guaranteed. As always, our standard advice applies: vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Strap & Buckle
A new, dark brown Alligator strap has been fitted, along with a gold-plated Rolex buckle. However, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin and can also obtain most types and colours from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of straps here.
The Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, all the numbers and markings on the watch are correct, dating the watch to 1966.
Our detailed ‘Particulars’ document will be included in the sale, along with our detailed receipt and 12 months warranty*. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will also be provided at the time of sale, along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If at any time, this watch proves to be anything less than totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund at any time”.
The Rolex presentation box shown in the photographs will be included with this watch.
To summarise, this is an iconic, top quality, and highly practical vintage watch from horology’s most famous name which will provide an excellent financial investment as well as be something to wear, treasure and enjoy! It will make the perfect evening wear dress watch as well as a practical, highly accurate and reliable timepiece to use on an everyday basis. Although this is one of our more expensive watches, its quality will be remembered for long after its purchase price will be forgotten.
Vintage gold Rolex Day-Date watches are highly collectable and the rarity of this watch means the value will always remain strong, meaning this watch will also make an excellent investment and family heirloom piece. Even though vintage Rolex prices have risen strongly in recent years, we feel high-quality fine examples such as this still remain undervalued. As each year goes by and the world market for vintage watches expands, availability will become more limited, so prices are surely destined to climb ever higher.
A word about our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these for sale at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach, inevitably, means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are a number of well-known stores in West London which are very successful, charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
We are happy to accept PayPal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you would wish to pay by bank transfer, we will be pleased to pass on a 3% transaction saving to you. Paying by bank transfer for a 3% saving will not affect your 12 months warranty. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or International Bank Wire Transfer, we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.
Please note, we also welcome part exchanges and if you have a watch or small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss.
We will be happy to Service your watch, Repair your watch or Fully Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.
If you have any questions, we welcome your call on: 020 7727 7095 or if calling from overseas on: +44 207 727 7095.
We are ready and available and awaiting your call! We will be happy to answer any questions and offer advice about this or any of our watches listed for sale. If you would like some general advice regarding any aspect of vintage watches, including buying, selling, or collecting vintage watches, we will also be happy to hear from you.
Finally, please enjoy some time spent viewing our other fine vintage gold watches.