My Rolex Day-Date ref. 18238 is not a new watch. In fact, this particular model I have here dates to 1991. In this new series called Exploring Evergreens, we review perfect Rolex replica watches that have been around for over a decade — or long enough to feel ubiquitous — and ask ourselves whether they have managed to stand the test of time. We’ll address whether they’re still relevant, how they feel today, and, ultimately, if they’re worth their current prices. In some cases, when the authors own/have owned the specific pieces, they’ll dig into how their feelings about them have evolved and whether or not they still deserve a spot in their collections. We’ll cover anything from the truly timeless and budget-friendly classics to vintage and neo-vintage heavy hitters. Today’s article is about a watch in the last category, the yellow gold Rolex Day-Date with the President bracelet.
My love for the Day-Date
I have been a watch enthusiast (and collector) since the 1990s, and the 1:1 CA Rolex Day-Date fake watches was always very high on my wishlist. I remember going into a local Rolex dealer in the early 2000s to try a Day-Date in white gold, and from that moment, I was hooked. It took me a while to decide to buy a gold Day-Date, though, as I quickly realized it was a watch that would not go unnoticed.
But in 2022, coincidentally just a few moments after I visited the Rolex headquarters in Geneva, a friend offered me his Day-Date 18238 from 1991 in great condition, and I decided to go for it. And as soon as I had it on my wrist, I wished that I had bought one much sooner.
Exploring Evergreens: The Rolex Day-Date 18238
The Rolex Day-Date is a classic, and I consider it an icon (and I don’t use this word lightly). It debuted in 1956 and quickly became one of the most recognizable gold cheap replica Rolex watches in the world. You can find an overview of the Day-Date’s history here. Reference 18238 came out in 1988 and replaced the 18038. It was in production until 2000 when Rolex introduced the Day-Date ref. 118238.
The 18238 was the first Day-Date reference to have a quickset function for both the day and the date, making it very easy for the owner to adjust them. Although I love the earlier references as well, I opted for a double quickset. I also happen to own a Rolex Datejust ref. 1601 without a quickset date, and it’s quite bothersome to me, so a double quickset is very welcome indeed! Also, this is the last Day-Date reference to have the brushed finish on top of the lugs.
On the wrist
Every time I put the Day-Date on my wrist, it feels as special as when I did that for the first time. Not many luxury Rolex copy watches in my collection can give me that same sensation. The Rolex President bracelet is largely “to blame” for that, I would say, as it’s an impressive gold three-row bracelet that is incredibly comfortable. The concealed clasp makes it one of the most beautifully designed and constructed bracelets on the market, even today.
Rolex Day-Date dimensions
The Rolex Day-Date 18238 measures 36mm in diameter, 12mm thick (excluding the Cyclops), and 43mm from lug to lug. The space between the lugs is 20mm. I’ve tried the high quality Rolex Day-Date replica watches on a nice strap with a gold Rolex pin buckle, but it wasn’t very long before I switched it back to this bracelet. Despite not being an integrated bracelet, it does feel like the President bracelet is simply part of the Day-Date. On my 18.5cm wrist, I wear the Day-Date with all 23 links.
The interesting part about the bracelet is that the clasp is made of 18K rose gold. So if you think Rolex mounted the wrong clasp on your yellow gold Day-Date, don’t worry; it’s correct. Rose gold is the strongest of all gold variations thanks to the copper in this alloy, making it a perfect material for a clasp. And from the outside, it doesn’t show that the clasp mechanism is made of rose gold.
Inside the Rolex Day-Date 18238 is caliber 3155, featuring a power reserve of 48 hours and ticking at a 28,800vph (4Hz) frequency. The movement measures 6mm thick, has 31 jewels, and has been certified as a chronometer by COSC in Switzerland. Today, I noticed that mine needs a service as it runs a little bit slow (-6 seconds on average per day) and has an amplitude of 260 degrees. The good thing about these Rolex 31xx calibers is that a watchmaker can drink while he or she’s servicing them. As with all Swiss movements fake Rolex Day-Date watches, the movement is hidden under the gold case back. It’s not the prettiest movement to look at, but at least it has some perlage decoration on the bridges. The rotor looks a little bit industrial, but since it’s not visible anyway, it doesn’t need any nice(r) decoration or skeletonization.
Dial and day disc configurations
There are many dials available for the Day-Date, and in those days, you could just pick any dial you wanted from the catalog. Dials made of onyx, for example, were available for a slight markup. I have the classic configuration with the champagne dial (not gold!) with gold hands and gold day and date discs. At the time, Rolex offered 26 different languages for these day discs. Mine is in English, but I wouldn’t have minded a Dutch or even German day indicator. This can be changed later as well, and sourcing the proper discs isn’t that big of a problem. The one thing that bothers me sometimes is that the gold hands are not always easy to read against the champagne dial since there isn’t much contrast.
The Oyster case construction and the Twinlock crown system ensure that the Rolex Day-Date 18238 is water resistant to 100 meters (~10 bar). It’s a happy thought, although I don’t swim with my gold AAA replica Rolex watches. Gold is resistant to corrosion, but it is also very soft. When swimming, I’m always afraid that I’ll scrape my watch against the walls of the pool, and besides, I don’t feel that swimming with a watch on the wrist is very comfortable. But in the end, it’s up to you, and you know the Day-Date is up for it.
In 1991, the retail price of the Rolex Day-Date 18238 in this exact configuration (champagne dial, President bracelet ref. 8385) was US$13,750. The same watch with an onyx dial would set you back US$14,650. The full-platinum ref. 18206 had a retail price of US$35,000.
Does the Rolex Day-Date 18238 hold up?
To me, owning a 36mm Rolex Day-Date is a no-brainer. You can use it as a dress watch, especially when wearing it on a leather strap, but it generally goes with everything. Despite the precious material, it’s a very versatile and easy watch to wear. I suspect many out there just wear their top Rolex Day-Date super clone watches daily. This ref. 18238 is a neo-vintage watch by now, clearly a family member of the very early Day-Date ref. 6511 but also very similar to today’s 2024 Rolex Day-Date ref. 128238.
Compared to the modern ref. 128238
Besides more polished surfaces, the modern 36mm Day-Date variation has a heavier bracelet (with solid center links) and a modern Rolex 3255 movement with a 70-hour power reserve and stricter accuracy standards. The modern one weighs approximately 35 grams more than my neo-vintage Day-Date, but the weight of the gold 18238 is still significant. In the end, aesthetically, I prefer the five-digit Rolex Day-Date replica watches online over the modern ones. I happen to like the brushed finish on top of the lugs better than the all-polished lugs of the modern reference.
Prices for the current and neo-vintage counterparts
Today’s equivalent of the Day-Date 18238 is the Day-Date 128238, which has a retail price of €36,500 / US$35,000. A Day-Date 18238 in good condition, however, can be yours for around €17,000 / US$18,500 or perhaps a little bit more for one with a box and papers. You might find them cheaper, but just make sure that there isn’t too much stretch in the bracelet. This can be repaired, but I believe it is easier just to go for one in good condition.
In today’s world, the Rolex Day-Date 18238 still holds up pretty well. The movement is perhaps a bit outdated and outperformed by its successor (caliber 3255), but the quality of the case and bracelet is still incredibly impressive. For a long time, the depreciation on a gold Rolex Day-Date was quite hefty compared to the price development on the steel sports models. Today, it’s still a little bit behind, but it did catch up in recent years. It’s quite stable at the moment, perhaps even a little bit down in this soft market, so now might be the best time to safeguard a neo-vintage Rolex Day-Date.
I love the Rolex Day-Date. It is a classic, and in the end, it doesn’t even matter which reference you’re after. My wrist size easily allows the Day-Date 40mm to be comfortable as well, and some of my friends have one. However, just like the Explorer models, I think the 36mm version has the best proportions. I find myself wearing my Day-Date regularly, and this, of course, results in scratches on the bracelet and case that look worse in photos than in real life. The good thing about gold fake Rolex watches wholesale is that this is easy to fix if you want to. I like it when a watch shows it is being worn and loved, though.