When I assembled my list of favorites from this year’s Watches and Wonders, I didn’t even mention the Rolex Day-Date with the new white dial and deconstructed Roman numerals. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it because it’s way out of my league budget-wise, and it seems like such a small update that it didn’t catch my attention. But now that the dust has settled, I realize this may indeed be the perfect Rolex Day-Date configuration for me. Let’s go over why that is.

I often see RJ walking around the office wearing his yellow gold Rolex Day-Date ref. 18238 from 1991. It’s almost annoying to see how well such a banger works in everyday life. He wears it with any outfit, and it might even look best when he wears it with a casual sweater. The only thing I don’t love about his Day-Date is its champagne sunburst dial. To me, it takes the all-gold look a bit over the top. If I were to get a Day-Date, I would prefer a bit more contrast, so I’d go for a pristine and glossy white dial. And now that Rolex has brought the deconstructed Roman numerals from the 40mm Day-Date to the 36mm models, I think my favorite version is finally here.

Something else

If you’ve never tried on a full-gold Rolex Day-Date, I highly recommend it. I still remember my first time trying one on at a get-together. As soon as you pick one up, it’s surprising how heavy such a smallish watch can be. Then, you put it on your wrist, and it just works so well. The Day-Date is one of those models from the Rolex modern catalog that, size-wise, hasn’t changed much from its (neo-)vintage predecessors.

That’s a good thing because its proportions are perfect. The 36mm yellow gold case is 11.7mm thick and spans 43.3mm from lug to lug. At that size, it fits so nicely on many different wrists. It works equally well on RJ’s 18.5cm wrist as on my 17cm one. And I’m sure the range of suitable wrist sizes is even wider than that. Again, I suggest you try one on somewhere. But don’t blame me if you find yourself (day)dreaming about it when you realize how good it is.

An older 1803 in white gold with a “Buckley” dial — Image: Bulang & Sons

A new combination

No, Roman numerals are not new for the 36mm Rolex Day-Date. In the past, there were already three different versions. On older references, like the 1803, you’ll be able to find the painted Roman numerals on the so-called “Buckley” dials. These represent a very nice and classic style. However, if you want something like that, I think you’d be better off buying a Cartier. La Maison almost has a monopoly on that style of Roman numerals and does them so very well,

The other two styles of Roman numerals were applied to the dials. One was in a more modern sans-serif font, while the other was in a bolder yet classical serif font. I prefer the former, although I feel the font doesn’t match the Day-Date’s overall style that well. Thankfully, the designers completely fixed that with the updated deconstructed font for the Roman numerals.

Similar but different

The updated font was already available for the 40mm Rolex Day-Date. Now it’s also an option for the 36mm version. In terms of style, it’s quite similar to the sans-serif font I mentioned earlier. However, the designers have increased the size and altered the execution of the numerals. It almost looks like they are made of the baton markers from the most simple Rolex Day-Date dials.

The way the indexes are cut and beveled makes them an absolute joy to behold as they reflect the light. In terms of design, they perfectly match the overall style of the Day-Date. Not only do the numerals mimic the design of the hands, but their three-dimensional shape also resembles the sharply fluted bezel. In my view, all this makes the latest version of the Rolex Day-Date almost perfect.

Almost perfect

I say “almost” because there’s one design choice I can’t get over — the entirely polished Oyster case. On previous versions of the Rolex Day-Date, the top of the lugs were circularly brushed. I much prefer that look over the all-polished lugs of the current model. I adored the contrast between the fluted and polished bezel, the brushed lug tops, and the polished case flanks. Yes, the newer polished lugs are more consistent with the polished center links of the President bracelet. Nevertheless, I’d prefer it if these lugs were brushed as well.

On the other hand, the 3255 automatic caliber inside is practically perfect. It was already introduced in 2015 and received an optimized ball bearing for the rotor in 2023. It offers a comfortable 70-hour power reserve, so one could put the watch down on Friday night and pick it up on Monday morning without needing to reset it. I also like how this caliber runs very accurately, at ±2 seconds per day on average. In addition, it’s good to know that the precious Rolex Day-Date is even water resistant to 100 meters.

Final thoughts

You can go crazy with Rolex’s online configurator these days. This 36mm version with a white dial and beautiful deconstructed Roman numerals is one of the more modest configurations, and I like it. The numerals add something extra to the already impressive yellow gold Day-Date but don’t pull it over the top the way the diamonds on some versions do.

The only gripe here is the €37,900 price. I’ll probably never spend a sum like that on a single watch, so I’ll just keep dreaming of my favorite Rolex Day-Date.

What do you think of this new version of Rolex’s classic yellow gold Day-Date? Which is your favorite version? Let me know in the comments below.

Watch specifications

Glossy white with deconstructed yellow gold Roman numerals
Case Material
18k yellow gold
Case Dimensions
36mm (diameter) × 43.3mm (lug-to-lug) × 11.7mm (thickness)
Case Back
18k yellow gold, screw-in
Rolex 3255: automatic with manual winding, 28,800vph frequency, 70-hour power reserve, 31 jewels, accurate to ±2 seconds per day
Water Resistance
100 meters (10 ATM)
18K yellow gold President bracelet
Time (hours, minutes, seconds), day, and date