Rolex's Largest Professional Watch Cases Compared

When browsing Rolex models online, it is difficult to tell the difference in case sizes based on photos of the watches without a basis for comparison. Those who are more familiar with luxury timepieces will have a better idea of a watch's relative size based on the diameter of the case than someone who is shopping for their first Rolex. In order to give you a better idea of how different models measure up, I have photographed the watchmaker's largest professional stainless steal watch cases side by side to illustrate the differences in their relative sizes.

Rolex Explorer II (42mm), Deepsea (44mm) and Yacht-Master II (44mm)
In the photo above I placed the Explorer II's 42mm case to the left, the Deepsea's 44mm case in the middle and the Yacht-Master II's 44mm case on the right. While they are both 44mm in diameter, the Deepsea's is Rolex's largest case based on its height. The thickness of the case is due in part to the Ringlock case architecture that was developed to increase the Deepsea's depth rating to 3,900 meters. The case of the Yacht-Master II is thicker than that of the Explorer II, which sits the lowest on the wrist.

Rolex Yacht-Master II 44mm case on left, Submariner Date's 40mm case on right
In this photo, I placed the Yacht-Master II's 44mm case next to the Submariner Date's 40mm case. The Sub is the model that most people have seen based on its popularity, so this photo gives you a good idea of how much larger the 44mm case of the YM2 is.

Rolex Explorer II 42mm case on left, Submariner Date 40mm case on right
In the above photo, I placed the Submariner to the right of the Explorer II. As you can see, when compared to the Sub's 40mm case you can better appreciate the size of the 42mm Exp2 case. It is slightly larger and thicker, but not enough to dwarf the Submariner's case like the Deepsea's case does in the photo below. Another thing to keep in mind is that a 40mm case is by no means considered small based on classical standards. In the mid-twentieth century, the average watch case measured between 34mm to 36mm. It is only in the past couple decades that average case sizes have gone up to 39mm-40mm. 

Rolex Deepsea 44mm case on left, Submariner Date 40mm case right
When dealing with a few millimeters of difference between cases, it can be difficult to imagine how big or small one watch case is in comparison to another. However, once you've seen these photos you can understand why many people warn those with smaller wrists to stay away from models like the Deepsea. Ultimately, it is still wise to check them out in person so that you can have an idea of how each one looks on your wrist before making a purchase decision. You may love the aesthetic of a watch with a large case, but it may not work for you from a practical standpoint, so it's best to figure that out before coming to a final purchase decision. 

Who Wears a Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date?

Known as the presidents' watch, the Rolex Day-Date (Reference # 228238) is a symbol of success that transcends time and place. Introduced in the 1950s, this model is only available in precious metals and represents the ultimate in prestige and status. The yellow gold configuration, shown below on Justin Timberlake, is met with both reverence and resistance by fans of the brand. However, even though yellow gold has fallen out of favor with some over past decade, they Day-Date model is still a favorite of the superstars of sports, music and fashion. 

Justin Timberlake Wearing a Gold Rolex Day-Date (photo: GQ)
Aside from Justin Timberlake, who wore the gold Day-Date above in his video for Can't Stop the Feeling! earlier this year, there are many celebrities who have been spotted wearing this reference in the past few years. Hollywood power couple Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux have both been photographed wearing gold Day-Dates. Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj have also been seen sporting this configuration, proving that the wristwatch model is equally suitable for women's wrists. LeBron James, shown in the photo below, sported a Day-Date II while taking part in the parade in Cleveland after the Cavaliers took home the NBA championship earlier this year.

Lebron James at Cleveland Cavaliers Championship Parade (photo: foxsports.com)
The Day-Date model was the first to feature the President bracelet and an arc-shaped window displaying the day at 12 o'clock. A superlative chronometer, the 40mm version features a 3255 self-winding mechanical movement manufactured by Rolex in-house with a power reserve of 70 hours. It features a fluted bezel and the scratch-resisant sapphire crystal features a Cyclops magnifying lens over the date aperture at 3 o'clock. This model is also available with a 36mm case and a leather strap. The 40mm yellow gold configuration in the photo below (Reference # 228238) retails for 33,200 Swiss francs or approximately $33,459 US. 

Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date (photo: Rolex)
Yellow gold watches are not for everyone. I explore this topic in my previous post: Are Yellow Gold Rolex Watches Gaudy? To watch Justin Timberlake's music video for Can't Stop the Feeling! click here. For more information on the Rolex Day-Date, visit rolex.com

Rolex Arts Testimonee, Tenor Rolando Villazón

A Rolex Arts Testimonee since 2005, Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón has been dazzling audiences with his beautiful voice and masterful stage presence when he appeared on the international opera scene in 1999. He won 3 prizes in his mentor Plácido Domingo's Operalia singing competition and ended up taking second place overall. In the video embedded below, he honors Domingo before performing 'No Puede Ser' to a standing ovation.

Mexican Tenor Rolando Villazón (photo: Monika Rittershaus)
Villazón's singing career got its start in a very interesting way. He was discovered by baritone Arturo Nieto, who heard him singing in the shower in his Mexico City apartment. From there, he went on to compete in Operalia, then made his Metropolitan Opera debut as Alfredo in La Traviata. He has performed in operas by Verdi, Puccini and Mozart to critical acclaim. He appeared at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna with Plácido Domingo in front of millions of viewers and has also achieved success as a platinum recording artist.

His connection to Domingo has continued throughout his career. In 2007 he recorded an album of zarzuelas conducted by Domingo. His career was sidelined after 2007 due to a cyst in his vocal cords. He underwent surgery in 2009 and returned to the stage in 2010 as Nemorino in L'elisir d'amore at the Vienna State Opera. After that, he performed a series of recitals and later began performing Mozart tenor roles, releasing an album of Mozart concert arias in 2014.

For more information on Rolando Villazón including his performance schedule, videos, audio and more, visit his official website at rolandovillazon.com.

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Stainless Steel Rolex Yacht-Master II vs Submariner Date Model Comparison

Stainless Steel Rolex Yacht-Master II vs Submariner Date Cases Side by Side
With functionalities tailored to the needs of seafarers and divers, the stainless steel versions of Rolex's Yacht-Master II (Reference # 116680) and Submariner Date (Reference # 116610LN) are ideal for anyone who spends time above or below the ocean's surface. The Yacht-Master II is designed as a skipper's watch, with a regatta timer, large nautical dial and a Cerachrom bezel insert. The Submariner in the quintessential dive watch with a 60-minute unidirectional graduated bezel also made from Rolex's Cerachrom ceramic and a depth rating of 300 meters.

Introduced in 1953, the Submariner has a long legacy as the world's favorite dive watch. The reference shown above features a 40mm stainless steel case that houses a 3135 self-winding mechanical movement manufactured by Rolex in-house. In addition to the graduated bezel that allows divers to tell how long they have been underwater, it also has a date aperture at 3 o'clock with a Cyclops magnifying lens affixed to its scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Its 300 meter depth rating is surpassed only by Rolex's Deepsea and Sea-Dweller models.

Rolex Yacht-Master II and Submariner Date Cases
The Yacht-Master II model appeared on the scene in 2007 and features a unique complication designed to aid skippers in keeping accurate time during yacht races. The regatta timer can be set to countdown up to ten minutes and has a flyback function that allows the user to synchronize the timer with the official countdown of the race. The 44mm case of the YM2 is one of the largest Rolex offers and features a ceramic Ring Command Bezel that rotates to allow the wearer to access the timer function. Fitted with a 4161 self-winding mechanical movement manufactured in-house by Rolex, it has a power reserve of 72 hours, 24 hours more than the Sub Date's power reserve.

While both stainless steel configurations come with Oyster bracelets, the center links of the Yacht-Master II's bracelet are polished while the Submariner Date's are brushed. The inner clasp of the Submariner is sandblasted and the YM2's is polished, shown in the photo below side by side. The Oysterlock clasp on the Sub comes with a Glidelock extension system that increases the length of the bracelet by 20mm in 2mm increments. The Yacht-Master II's Oysterlock clasp comes with an Easylink that increases the length of the bracelet by 5mm for additional comfort. As you can see in the photos, the Submariner's Glidelock increases the length of the clasp, something to consider if you have a small wrist.

Inner Clasp of Rolex Submariner Date vs Yacht-Master II
Perhaps the main difference between these two professional nautical watches is the price. The stainless steel Submariner Date (Reference # 116610LN) retails for 8,100 Swiss francs or approximately $8,196 US while the stainless Yacht-Master II model (Reference # 116680) retails for 17,800 Swiss francs for approximately $18,112 US. With a price difference of over $10,000, the decision would come down to price for most people. Size would also be a determining factor, as the YM2's 44mm case may sit too large for small to midsize wrists. However, the significant increase in price for a precious metal Yacht-Master II configuration makes the stainless steel configuration more attainable for anyone who prefers its design aesthetic and functionality.

Rolex Submariner Date and Yacht-Master II Side by Side
For additional information about the Submariner, check out my previous post about the popular LV configuration of this model here. To check out the Yacht-Master II in depth, take a look at this post featuring the two-tone configuration. If you are looking for more model comparisons, click here.

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Rolex Online Resources

Whether you own a few of their watches or are shopping for your first, it is likely that you will take to the internet to look for information about Rolex and their wristwatch models. While Google does a good job of bringing relevant websites to the first page of search results, it usually takes some digging to get to the bottom of what information is found where. As someone who has spent many hours conducting my own research online for this website and for personal purchase decisions, I would like to share the most helpful Rolex resources I have found from around the web. 

Rolex Online Resources (photo: Thomas Lefebvre)
Official Rolex Website
The first and most logical destination on your Rolex journey is their official website at rolex.com. They offer guided searches of their men's and women's models, historical and company information, details about each of their wristwatch model configurations and more. You can't buy a watch from them directly on their website, but they have a Store Locator that helps you find a local Authorized Dealer where you can check their watches out in person. They also provide a locator for Service Centers where you can find qualified professionals to perform maintenance and service on your Rolex. They also include this Legal Notice for anyone with questions about warranty and other legal matters as well as links to their official social media accounts.

The Rolex Forum
If you have questions that were not answered by a visit to their official website, I would recommend performing a search in The Rolex Forum next. There are many watch forums on the internet, but this one focuses mainly on Rolex watches. You don't have to become a member to read the information in the forum and most of the questions you might have about a Rolex are probably answered already in past threads. Aside from general information, the forum has a Classifieds section with vintage and pre-owned Rolex watches for sale or trade. There are also sticky posts with 2016 pricing information, a list of acronyms and abbreviations and a reference library with information pertinent to each Rolex model.

WatchRecon
Anyone looking for a preowned Rolex online should check our watchrecon.com, a comprehensive search engine for private Rolex sales. Many of the listings found on this site link directly to sellers on the Rolex Forum, but their search results also include listings form other forums like Watchuseek's and Timezone's. This is also a good way to get an idea of what the resale value of your current Rolex watch should you be interested in selling it.

1988 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Model (photo: Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer)
Rolex Blogs
There are several watch blogs that regularly feature content centered around Rolex watches. Though their editorial content is not limited to Rolex, hodinkee.com and ablogtowatch.com are perhaps the most well known watch blogs on the internet today. Ariel Adams is the editor of A Blog to Watch and a regular contributor to Forbes magazine. Ben Clymer is at the helm at Hodinkee and has contributed to GQ and been featured in the New York Times due to the success of his blog, which is now also a shop offering vintage watches and watch accessories. The Rolex section of fratellowatches.com is also a useful resource for reviews. There are a couple notable blogs that feature content exclusively dedicated to Rolex. Jake's Rolex World at rolexmagazine.com features many interesting vintage photographs of Rolex watches and celebrities wearing them throughout the watchmaker's history. For more technical information including how-to's and watch comparisons, check out minus4plus6.com.

Rolex on Reddit
Reddit, the self-proclaimed front page of the internet, has a couple subreddits that can assist with questions and research about Rolex watches. Their Watches Subreddit has over 98,000 subscribers and features content and resources about all watch brands. In this subreddit, I have come across threads that answer questions about dealer pricing, horology, model comparisons and more. Their FAQ offers insights into what sort of information you can find on their subreddit and also answers questions about watches in general. In addition to /r/Watches, there is a smaller subreddit dedicated exclusively to Rolex, /r/Rolex. This subreddit has less that 2,000 followers, but is friendlier to those who may not be experts about watches and want to discuss Rolex watches exclusively. 

Rolex Books
Mondani is a family-owned Italian publishing company that specializing in books about watches. There is only so much information available on the internet about certain Rolex watches, so if you have searched and still not found answers about your favorite Rolex model, I would recommend purchasing one of their books. They make wonderful coffee table books and provide information that would otherwise only come from experts in horology and Swiss watches. You can check out their entire selection of books at mondanibooks.com

Rolex US Contact Information
Should you have any questions about Rolex that you can't find online or in books, you can always call their New York City offices at 212-758-7700 and ask their operator for assistance. They have a department that handles stolen or lost watch reports and they can also questions about replacing bracelets, maintenance, damage, warranty, etc. If you want to send them an inquiry through snail mail, you can address your correspondence to their offices located at 665 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022 in Manhattan. I have never sent them a letter, but I have read that the company is responsive to customer inquiries.

If there is an online Rolex resource that I have left out, please feel free to e-mail me at rolexchronicle@gmail.com and let me know. I  would love to make this list as comprehensive as possible so that readers need to look no further for Rolex related content on the web.

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Rolex Customizations by Bamford Watch Department

Nothing provokes the ire of die hard Rolex fans more than the customized Rolex watches popularized by Bamford Watch Department. The bespoke luxury timepieces offered by Bamford and other customization companies are often panned in forums and seen as an assault on the brand and its design aesthetic by purists. The polarizing effect of these watches have on people is similar to the effect that street art had on the art world a decade ago, before it was embraced by the masses and featured during international art events like Art Basel. While many will always object to the practice based on principle, customizing luxury watches requires a combination of manufacturing know-how, creativity and confidence. What results are truly unique timepieces for those with deep pockets and a sense of individuality that is not satisfied by mass-produced luxury wristwatches. 

Bamford Watch Department (photo: bamfordwatchdepartment.com)
Aside from the ideological arguments against bespoke Rolex watches that are rooted in admiration for the watchmaker, there are other reasons people thumb their noses at them. One of the most common is the fact that, according to the Legal Notices page on rolex.com, any modifications or substitution of parts will result in an automatic cancelation of the manufacturer's warranty on a Rolex watch. It goes on to state that these modifications are harmful to the integrity of the piece - a sentiment often echoed by BWD's critics. Bamford addresses this issue in the FAQ section of their website, offering a 5 year warranty on their watches that supersedes any manufacturing warranty. The FAQ also answers another question many people have about the company: will they customize a watch that you already own? (The answer is no, they supply the watches.)

The other issue people have with customized Rolex watches is resale value. Swiss made luxury timepieces tend to retain their value and some rare vintage models even increase in value over time. However, when it comes to the recent trend of customizing these watches, there isn't a precedent for valuing them over time, leaving many to assume they are worthless on the secondary market. The markup for the customization seems like an insurmountable hurdle for the watch to gain anymore value and the market is much smaller for a customized luxury watch than for a more common and coveted model like the ceramic Daytona, for example. This issue would bother someone who flips their watches for different models over the years, but generally speaking, watches shouldn't be considered an investment in the first place. Someone who is willing to pay the premium for a customized watch should look at it in an investment in their wrist game, not their financial portfolio.

Submariner CS08: Desert from Bamford's Commando Range (photo: bamfordwatchdepartment.com)
In addition to offering bespoke designs to individual clients, Bamford also has a few collections of modified Rolex designs, including their Commando range, which features military-style designs in desert, combat and forrest color schemes. The Submariner shown in the photo above is a desert Commando design. The Graphite Particle Coating used is guaranteed for life and advertised as a protective coating, free from scratching and fading over time. In addition to the Commando line, they also offer models coated with all black and all white. In their Heritage range, they offer Daytonas with colorful dials and collaborations that include dials featuring Popeye, Snoopy, planes, cars and more. They also teamed up with Feld & Volk to create a range of Rolexes with carbon fiber dials.

It is the newest addition to their Heritage range, the Bamford Heritage MilSub, that had watch collectors fired up in watch forums and subreddits this week. A highly sought after military issued Submariner, the MilSub fetches over $100,000 US at auction. Hodinkee covered the release of Bamford's Heritage MilSub, designed to resemble the vintage classic with a price tag just under $20,000 US, much to the chagrin of some commenters, who needed to be reminded by moderators about their zero tolerance for trolling policy.
Bamford Heritage MilSub (photo: bamfordwatchdepartment.com)
While the debate about customized luxury watches will go on for years to come, it should be noted that the market for these pieces has grown since Bamford Watch Department opened its doors. There are now several companies that offer similar customized timepieces, including Project X and Titan Black. Engraved Rolex watches are also gaining popularity, with companies like MadeWorn and Huckleberry Ltd offering Rolexes hand-engraved with old world style motifs. Customization will never be for everybody, as the practice caters to wealthy people with a large budget for watches and a strong sense of person style. However, it does offer a fresh design perspective in the luxury watch industry that is guided by individualism and creativity and for that innovative companies like Bamford Watch Department deserve credit. For more information on Bamford, including where to find their watches around the world, visit bamfordwatchdepartment.com.

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Rolex Explorer II vs Submariner Date Model Comparison

Rolex Explorer II vs Submariner Date Cases Side by Side
Perhaps two of the most popular stainless steel professional models amongst Rolex enthusiasts, the Submariner Date (Reference # 116610LN) and Explorer II (Reference # 216570) offer similar sporty aesthetics but different bezels and functionalities. The Explorer II has a 24-hour hand and 24-hour fixed bezel while the Submariner features a unidirectional 60-minute graduated bezel in Cerachrom, Rolex's patented ceramic bezel insert. Both of the configurations in the photo above (Explorer II on left, Sub on right) are made from 904L stainless steel and feature black dials.

Since 2011, the Rolex Explorer II model has come with a 42mm case, slightly larger than the Submariner and GMT-Master II models and slightly smaller than the Deepsea and Yacht-Master II models. Like the GMT, it features a 24-hour hand and 24-hour bezel that allows the wearer to set the time of two locations on one watch. However, the Explorer II features a fixed brushed steel bezel, not the bi-directional ceramic bezel found on GMT models. The clear display of the Explorer II, including larger hour and minute hands than the Submariner, makes it very legible as compared to other professional models. It is equipped with a 3187 movement that is manufactured completely in-house by Rolex.

Rolex Submariner Date Case Atop Explorer II Case
The Submariner model was introduced in 1953 and soon became one of the most recognizable Rolex models in the world. The current reference features a 40mm case and 3135 movement manufactured by the watchmaker. Like the Explorer II, the Submariner Date model shown above has a date aperture at 3 o'clock with a Cyclops magnifying lens. The main function of the Submariner is that of a professional dive watch, so its depth rating is substantially higher than the Explorer II's. The Sub is waterproof up to 300 meters, the Exp2 to 100 meters. Both watches have a power reserve of approximately 48 hours.

Another similarity between the watches is their satin finished Oyster bracelets with polished edges. However, when it comes to the clasp there is a difference between the two. The Explorer II has an Oysterlock clasp with an Easylink that extends the bracelet by 5mm. The Sub's Oysterlock clasp comes with the Glidelock extension system that allows the wearer to extend the bracelet an additional 20mm by 2mm increments. This allows divers to wear their Submariners over their thick wetsuits when diving in colder waters.

Rolex Explorer II Oysterlock Clasp (left) and Submariner Date's Oysterlock Clasp with Glidelock (right)
The suggested retail price for the stainless steel Rolex Explorer II (Reference # 216570) is 7,700 Swiss francs or approximately $8,073 USD. This model also features a white dial configuration that is commonly known as the 'Polar' explorer. The Submariner Date (Reference # 116610LN) retails for 8,100 Swiss francs or approximately $8,503 USD. It is also available with a green bezel and dial combination known as the 'Hulk' which retails for 500 Swiss francs more than the LN shown above.

There is not a large difference in price between these two models, which makes the purchase decision come down to personal style and functionality. Many like the larger case and highly legible display of the Explorer II, however, a 42mm case may appear too large on smaller wrists. The Cerachrom bezel of the Submariner Date is a selling point for that model, but unless you're planning a deep sea dive in the near future, its functionality may not be as useful as a 24-hour hand and bezel. Both are great stainless steel professional watches and they will retain their value and hold up nicely due to the materials used, so the choice ultimately comes down which looks and feels better on your wrist. 

For more information on either of these models, check out the Rolex Shopping Guide page of this blog or visit Rolex's official website at rolex.com

Are Rolex Prices Negotiable?

Pricing and negotiation is a common topic in Rolex forums, with many wondering if they can find their favorite Rolex model for cheaper than the going rate. While there are exceptions to every rule, the general rule is that Rolex discourages any discounts given to customers at their Authorized Dealers. When it comes to their popular stainless steel professional models, it is highly unlikely that you will pay anything below the retail price. For some, like the new ceramic Daytona (Reference #116500LN), you may even have to pay a premium above the going rate due to the demand and long waiting list for it. 

Rolex Chêne-Bourg Site (photo: Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer)
However, when it comes to precious metal configurations with higher price tags, there may be room to negotiate. Every individual has a different experience with different dealers around the world and it ultimately comes down to your relationship with them. If you have bought several luxury timepieces from a dealer in the past and have maintained a rapport with the owner or salesperson, you may have more leverage than someone walking in off the street. For those looking for discounts on their first luxury timepiece, I would recommend looking for preowned or vintage models. There are forums and websites, like watchrecon.com, that list trusted dealers and prices for you to comparison shop before making your purchase. 

It is a slippery slope when looking for luxury watches on the cheap. I have encountered many stories from even the most experienced Rolex watch owners about getting ripped off by shady sellers on Craigslist. As they say, if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. In the Classifieds section of The Rolex Forum, they have a list of trusted dealers that are recommended by members. This would be a safe way to shop for a discounted preowned Rolex online. However, chances are you will not be able to try on the watch before purchasing, which is a problem for many (myself included). I would also advise caution when buy from sellers on e-Bay, as some have ordered a watch based on a model number and photo they saw on the site only to be shipped a slightly different model. 

There will always be those who claim to have received deep discounts for new luxury timepieces, but if their claims are true (I would ask to see the receipts) they represent a very small percentage of Rolex owners. The majority of people pay full price for most new models or spend time doing research and comparison shopping for preowned or vintage models online. To find a Rolex Authorized Dealer in your area to begin your search, visit rolex.com

Are Yellow Gold Rolex Watches Gaudy?

In the past few decades, fashion trends have made white gold jewelry and watches more popular than their yellow gold counterparts as far as precious metal configurations go. This has prompted many to refer to yellow gold wristwatches as gaudy in comparison. However, it is interesting to note that yellow gold Rolex configurations are actually priced lower than white gold configurations, making those who refer to them as gaudy seem misinformed. After all, the term gaudy denotes extravagance, so it would make more sense to refer to platinum or white gold configurations as such based on the empirical evidence. 
Photo of Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master II (photo: Rolex)
Yellow Gold Rolex GMT-Master II (photo: Rolex)
The reason people seem to have an issue with yellow gold watches could be attributed to the fact that they stand out more so than white gold configurations due to their vibrant hue. Even though a white gold watch has a bigger price tag, a yellow gold watch demands more attention - something that makes many people uncomfortable. While I would agree that a yellow gold watch could be considered more flashy than a stainless steel or white gold watch based on its color, I wouldn't conflate that with a desire for ostentation.

Another contributing factor to people preferring white gold over yellow gold has to do with the fact that interior design trends have also favored cool tones over warm tones in the modern era. Our eyes are more accustomed to seeing cool metallic tones in luxury, well-appointed environments, making yellow gold seem tacky by comparison. However, it would be difficult to make the claim that using yellow gold is in poor taste when you experience the majestic beauty of the interiors at the Palace at Versailles and St. Peter's Basilica or look at the golden treasures of ancient Egypt at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The use of yellow gold for jewelry dates back several millennia. The element was considered a product of the gods by the Aztecs in North America and has been found in ancient artifacts from Europe, Africa and Asia. It may have fallen out of favor in the western world over the past few years, but its historical and cultural significance should not be overlooked.

It's completely acceptable to say that you prefer white gold over yellow gold based on personal aesthetic. We are all entitled to our own opinions, after all. However, to refer to yellow gold watches as gaudy or tacky just because you don't like them is divisive and unnecessary. For many people, yellow gold watches represent the splendor and traditions of antiquity and hold sentimental value that goes beyond current trends. They may not be for everybody, but they aren't anymore gaudy than gold watches of any other color.

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Are Rolex Watches Automatic?

photo of Rolex Perpetual Rotor (photo: Rolex)
Rolex Perpetual Rotor (photo: Rolex)
In the beginning of the 20th century, mechanical wristwatches required the wearer to wind the crown in order to power the movement. In 1931 under the leadership of founder Hans Wilsdorf, Rolex patented the Perpetual rotor. This innovation added a half-moon shaped oscillating weight to the movement that would spin 360º with the motion of the wrist and use kinetic energy to provide power to the watch.
The addition of the rotor mechanism made it unnecessary to wind the watch manually, creating the first self-winding or automatic wristwatch movement. All current Rolex models are equipped with automatic mechanical movements that are manufactured in-house by the watchmaker. For more information, check out my blog post about the Perpetual rotor here. The brief video below shows the inner workings of a Rolex movement. You can see the oscillating weight turn around the 45 second mark of the clip.

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Diamond Rolex Models

At their in-house gemology department located in their Chêne-Bourg site in Geneva, Switzerland, Rolex has a team of highly skilled gem-setters that choose and set only the highest quality diamonds and gems onto their diamond wristwatch models. They pay special attention to the cut, color and and clarity of their diamonds and make sure that they are set properly by employing top notch setters who use machinery usually only found in gemology laboratories. 

close up photo of platinum diamond rolex day-date
Diamond Rolex Models (photo: Rolex)
While you can find several examples of Rolex watches with after-market diamonds on the Instagram feeds of celebrities and jewelers who offer customized Rolexes, there are only a few diamond model configurations that you can buy directly from the watchmaker. The men's and women's models they offer with diamonds are all precious metal configurations. Some feature diamond bezels, others diamond hour markers or diamonds on the bracelet - and some, like the diamond Pearlmaster 39 feature all three.

In addition to Pearlmaster models, Rolex offers the Lady-Datejust with diamonds set on the bezel and/or hour markers. For men, the watchmaker offers their Oyster Perpetual Date 34, Day-Date, Datejust and Datejust II models with diamonds on either the bezel or hour markers or both. They also offer Cellini models with diamonds. Naturally, pricing for these models is higher than models without precious stones. A platinum Rolex Day-Date with diamonds on the bezel and hour markers will run you 110,300 Swiss francs as opposed to 59,600 Swiss francs for the non-diamond platinum configuration.

There are jewelers who offer Rolex models with after-market diamonds set on their dials, cases and bracelets. However, while they are flashy and popular amongst athletes and celebrities, they come at a price. If your Rolex wristwatch has any after-market customizations, the watchmaker will not service the timepiece. So, if you are considering a custom diamond Rolex, I would recommend asking about servicing and warranty before making the purchase.

To browse Rolex's selection of diamond models, visit rolex.com and select the diamond option in their guided search. I wrote a post about their precious stones that includes information on gem-setting and selection here for anyone interested in additional information about their in-house gemology department.

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Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra

Photo from Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra New Years Concert (photo: Jun Keller)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra New Years Concert (photo: Jun Keller)
One of the worlds foremost institutions of classical music, Rolex has been the exclusive partner of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra since 2008 and exclusive sponsor of their New Years Concert since 2009. The Orchestra was founded in 1842 and is considered one of the finest orchestras in the world.

The New Years Concert has been been performed for over 70 years on the morning of January first every year, usually showcasing the music of Johann Strauss. It is broadcast live from Vienna's Musikverein to over 90 countries. The video below shows the 2016 celebration conducted by Grammy Award winner Mariss Jansons.

Another event presented by the Vienna Philharmonic is the Summer Night Concert, usually held in the months of May or June with 100,000 people gathering in the Palace and Gardens of Schonbrunn. The open air performance as been sponsored by Rolex since 2009. For more information on the Vienna Philharmonic including performances on DVD, historical information and schedule, visit http://www.wienerphilharmoniker.at/en.

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Rolex Syloxi Hairspring

Rolex introduced the Syloxi Hairspring for their ladies models in 2014. The hairspring and balance wheel, shown in the photo below, help regulate the oscillations of the movement. The hairspring must be resistant to shocks, spikes in temperature and magnetism to ensure the precision of the timepiece. 

Rolex's Syloxi Hairspring (photo: Rolex/Christophe Lauffenburger)
The use of silicon for the hairspring is a patented innovation that substantially improves the performance of the oscillator as compared to traditional ferromagnetic hairsprings. The patent itself covers the unique characteristics of this hairspring. The silicon and silicon oxide composite used is the first part of the patent. The geometry that optimizes the isochronism and its chronometric regularity is also part of it. There is also a patent for the way that Rolex fixes the end of the hairspring to the balance staff and the balance bridge, enhancing its flatness and concentricity. 

Rolex utilizes a high-precision manufacturing process known as deep reactive ion etching (DRIE) to make the Syloxi Hairspring. It was introduced in their 2236 movement, manufactured in-house by the watchmaker for their women's watches. This increases its power reserve to approximately 55 hours. 

Are Rolex Watches Unisex?

Photos of Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian Wearing Gold Rolex Day-Dates
Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian Wearing Gold Rolex Day-Date Watches
While Rolex labels most of their wristwatch models like the Submariner and the Day-Date as men's watches on their official website, many women choose to purchase them instead of the watches they label as women's. As far as women's models go, the watchmaker offers the Lady-Datejust and Pearlmaster in sizes that range from 26mm to 39mm.

Superstars like Rihanna have been photographed wearing women's models, but it is more common to see female celebrities in men's models. The Day-Date is a popular model for both men and women, specifically Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian. Justin Timberlake and LeBron James also wear gold Day-Dates. (For more information on the Day-Date, check out my model post here.)

Some say that men's models are too large women's wrists, but Charlize Theron makes a case for the contrary, wearing a Deepsea - the largest Rolex currently in production. Gender inequality is still a major issue in most parts of the world, but many women today feel completely comfortable shopping for watches in the mens section. So even though they may not be labeled as such, they can still be considered unisex based on current fashion trends.

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Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Rolex's Awards for Enterprise is an international philanthropic program that honors 10 Laureates for advancing human knowledge in the areas of science, health, technology, exploration, discovery, environment and cultural heritage. The last awards ceremony took place in London in November of 2014 and the jury for the 2016 awards, to be held in Los Angeles in November of 2016, was announced earlier this year. 

Rolex Awards Ceremony, The Royal Society, London, England, November 17, 2014 (photo: Nick Harvey)
The 2016 awards presentation will mark the 40th anniversary of the program. The jury members met in Geneva, Switzerland in April to discuss who they were going to pick as this year's Laureates. There will be 5 Laureates who receive 100,000 Swiss francs and 5 Young Laureates (aged 18 to 30) who receive 50,000 Swiss francs.

“As we begin the fifth decade of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, we welcome the outstanding group of Jury members who are giving their time to help us choose the latest winners of our long-standing, international philanthropic program,” said Rebecca Irvin, Head of Philanthropy at Rolex.

Jury members include electrical engineer Ghada Amer of Egypt, German marine biologist Antje Boetius, sustainability leader María Emilia Correa of Colombia, American underwater photographer David Doubilet, British mathematician and science communicator Marcus du Sautoy, American biomedical engineer and innovator David Edwards, astronaut Chris Had eld of Canada, physicist Stefan Hell of Germany, Ethiopian agricultural scientist Segenet Kelemu, social entrepreneur Johann Olav Koss of Norway, Indian philanthropist and social entrepreneur Rohini Nilekani and gastroenterologist and university Vice-Chancellor Joseph J. Y. Sung of Hong Kong.

“The demographics of the applicants they will be scrutinizing closely reflect the world at large: the growth of entrepreneurism in developing countries; the importance of innovative technology to our lives; and the increasing power and presence of women today,” Irvin added.

For more information on Rolex's Award for Enterprise 2016 visit rolexawards.com

Are Rolex Watches Waterproof?

Photo of Rolex Submariner (Reference # 116610LV) (photo: Rolex)
Rolex Submariner (Reference # 116610LV) (photo: Rolex)
The depth rating of a Rolex watch varies depending on its case and model. The watches in their Cellini line have the lowest depth rating, waterproof to a depth of 50 meters. All of the models in their Oyster Perpetual line have a minimum depth rating of 100 meters thanks to their hermetically constructed Oyster cases. The Submariner models feature a depth rating of 300 meters and the Rolex model with the highest depth rating is the Deepsea, waterproof to a depth of 4,000 meters.

The first wristwatch with a waterproof case, Rolex patented the screw-down case construction of their Oyster model in 1926. Today's Oyster cases are stamped out of a solid block of metal and feature a screwed down case back that requires a special tool to access the movement. All Oyster cases come with either a Twinlock or Triplock winding crown that seal the case completely with either a double or triple system of seals that keep water from leaking into the case and damaging the movement.

All Oyster cases undergo rigorous testing to make sure that they are guaranteed waterproof to their corresponding depth ratings. The watches are immersed and subjected to pressures up to 10% greater than the depth rating stated on the watch. For more information on their Oyster case, visit rolex.com.

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Rolex Submariner Date vs GMT-Master II Model Comparison

Rolex Submariner Date vs GMT-Master II Model Comparison
Rolex's Submariner Date (Reference # 116610LN) and GMT-Master II (Reference # 116710LN) models are the watchmaker's most popular professional wristwatch models and also the most similar. From a distance, the only way to really tell them apart is by the numbers on the bezel and the polished/brushed center links. However, their main difference lies in their complications: the GMT has a 24-hour hand and bezel, the Submariner a 60-minute graduated bezel.

The Submariner model was introduced in 1953 and was the first dive watch with a depth rating of 100 meters. The current model, shown in the photo above to the left of the GMT-Master II, has a depth rating of 300 meters. It is equipped with a Calibre 3130 manufactured entirely in-house by Rolex with a power reserve of approximately 48 hours. Its unidirectional 60-minute graduated bezel features a black Cerachrom ceramic insert that is virtually scratch-proof.

Rolex Submariner Date Case on GMT-Master II Case
The bezel of the GMT-Master II also features a black Cerachrom bezel insert, but this bezel is bi-directional with a 24-hour display instead of the 60 minute display. The green 24-hour or GMT hand can be set to GMT time, allowing the wearer to quickly and easily switch from one time zone to another with a turn of the bezel in either direction. The GMT2 contains a 3186 movement also manufactured in-house by Rolex with a power reserve of 48 hours. This timepiece was designed as a pilot's watch in the 1950s and still represents the simplest and most useful watch for travelers in Rolex's professional watch line.

Both watches feature Mercedes hour hands and Chromalight hour markers on their dials. Both cases measure 40 millimeters and are made from 904L stainless steel. They both come with Oyster bracelets, the Sub's in brushed steel and the GMT2's with polished center links. As you can see in the photo below, the Submariner's Oysterlock clasp is longer than the GMT-Master II's due to the Glidelock extension system that extends the bracelet by 20 millimeters. The GMT2 comes with an Easylink extension link that adds an additional 5 millimeters to its length.

Submariner's Brushed Steel Bracelet above the GMT-Master II's Bracelet w/ Polished Center Links
Aside from their functionality and the differences listed above, the Submariner Date and GMT-Master II models are virtually indistinguishable in their stainless steel and black configurations. The price difference between these two references is minimal, with the Submariner Date going for 8,100 Swiss francs (approximately $8,196 USD) and the GMT-Master II at 8,000 Swiss francs ($8,095 USD).

Aside from the LN (black bezel) configurations used for this comparison, Rolex offers the Submariner Date with a green bezel and dial combination (Reference # 116610LV) that is commonly referred to as the 'Hulk' and the GMT-Master II with a blue and black bezel (Reference # 116710BLNR) that is known as the 'Batman' amongst Rolex enthusiasts. For additional information on these two models, including where to buy them, visit rolex.com.

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Rolex Arts Testimonee Bryn Terfel

Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel is a world renowned bass-baritone. The Guildhall School of Music and Drama graduate won the Lieder Prize in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 1989. He has since won Grammy and Brit Awards for his performances that include the title role in Sweeny Todd and operas by Mozart, Strauss, Puccini and Wagner. 

Photo of Rolex Testimonee Bryn Terfel (photo: Fadil Berisha)
Rolex Testimonee Bryn Terfel (photo: Fadil Berisha)
Terfel made his operatic debut in 1990 as Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte at the Welsh National Opera. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House in London as Masetto in Don Giovanni in 1992. He made his debuts at Milan's Teatro alla Scala and New York's Metropolitan Opera as Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro in the 1990s. From the 1990s to the early 2000's he released several musical recordings in addition to his operas and concerts.

Terfel has been a Rolex testimonee since 2007. He is photographed above wearing a Rolex Day-Date.  In the video below he performs Non piu andrai, an aria from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro. For more information on Bryn Terfel, visit his artist page on harlequin-agency.co.uk.

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Which Rolex Model Has the Biggest Case?

Photo of Rolex Deepsea with D-Blue Dial (photo: Rolex)
Rolex Deepsea with D-Blue Dial (photo: Rolex)
Rolex currently offers two of its professional watch models with 44mm cases - the Deepsea and the Yacht-Master II. While their cases have the same diameter, the Deepsea is the larger case, with a thickness of 17.7 mm due in part of its Ringlock System case architecture. I posted a photo of the Deepsea's case next to the YM2 case in my model comparison post to show the difference in case thickness.
Photo of Rolex Deepsea Challenge Experimental Watch (photo: Rolex)
Rolex Deepsea Challenge Experimental Watch (photo: Rolex)
In 2012, Rolex created an experimental Deepsea model called the Rolex Deepsea Challenge that went down to the bottom of the ocean on James Cameron's Deepsea Challenger. While this watch was never made available for purchase, it featured a case size of 51.4 mm diameter with a thickness of 17.7 mm. It had a depth rating of 12,000 meters and a domed synthetic sapphire crystal that was 14.3 mm thick.

In short, the Deepsea Challenger is technically the Rolex with the largest case, however, the Rolex with the largest case on the market is the Deepsea. The Yacht-Master II comes next followed by the 42mm cases of the Explorer II and Sky-Dweller models.

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Stainless Steel Rolex Customization Ideas

While purists wince at the idea of customizing a Rolex timepiece, there are many companies around the world that offer Rolex customization. Any aftermarket customizations void the warranty that the watchmaker offers, but most of the reputable watch customization companies offer their customers their own warranties for the watches they customize. This means that the sky is the limit for anyone willing to pay a premium for a truly one of a kind timepiece. 
photoshopped photo of a Rolex Slate Blue Stainless Steel Sub Date Concept Model
Custom Slate Blue Stainless Steel Rolex Submariner Date Design Idea
Blacked out Rolexes from companies like Bamford Watch Department and Project X are very popular, but if I had carte blanche to come up with any stainless steel Rolex, for example, I would make minimal but unique adjustments to the original configurations. For example, although I have come to appreciate the Rolex Submariner LV, or Hulk as it is also referred to, the green bezel and dial are too bright for me to be able to wear it on a daily basis. If I could choose a color for the bezel and dial of the Sub Date, I would go for a slate blue. The color is more subdued than the blue of the white gold Sub (Smurf) and a little more interesting than the black bezel and dial combination more commonly seen on the stainless steel version. I used Photoshop to come up with the concept image above.

image of a Custom Indigo Rolex Air-King Design Idea
Custom Indigo Rolex Air-King Design Idea
While I was in Photoshop, I decided to work out a version of the polemic 2016 Air-King model that would please my eye more so than the original. My main issues with the new Air-King are the green ROLEX on the dial and the matching green seconds hand. At first I tried to make them white, but that made it resemble to Explorer too much. So, I decided to give the Air-King a pop of color that would enhance the dial and compliment the yellow crown. I went with the indigo color in the image above. This shade of indigo is dark enough to blend in with the black dial but also colorful enough to compliment the bright yellow crown.

Customization isn't for everyone, but it does provide a creative option for those who want a truly one of a kind timepiece. The process of coming up with custom design ideas is enjoyable, even if they end up as nothing more than a concept. If there is a custom design idea you would like to see realized on Photoshop, e-mail your idea to rolexchronicle@gmail.com.

Rolex Yacht-Master II vs Deepsea Model Comparison

Rolex Yacht-Master II v Deepsea Case Comparison
Rolex's Yacht-Master II and Deepsea models are both large professional watches designed for timekeeping above and below the surface of the ocean. The stainless steel versions shown above (Deepsea Reference # 116660 and Yacht-Master II Reference # 116680) are similar in size but feature different functionalities and price points.

Both the Rolex Deepsea and Yacht-Master II come with a 44 mm case, with the Deepsea's case standing higher due to its Ringlock Case Architecture. The Ringlock system and Helium Escape Valve help give the Deepsea a depth rating of 3,900 meters. The Yacht-Master II features a depth rating of 100 meters. Both models come with a Triplock winding crown. The photo below shoes the Deepsea's case on the left with the YM2 case on the right.

Photo of Rolex Deepsea and Yacht-Master II Cases Side by Side
Rolex Deepsea and Yacht-Master II Cases Side by Side
The Yacht-Master II is equipped with a Calibre 4161 manufactured by Rolex in-house that features a regatta timer that allows one to set a 10 minute countdown with a flyback function to synchronize with the official countdown of a yacht race. For information on how to operate the regatta timer, take a look at my previous post on how to set the regatta chronograph.

The functionality of the Deepsea, equipped with a 3135 movement also manufactured by Rolex in-house, is tailored to the needs of professional divers. It features a unidirectional 60-minute graduated bezel that allows the wearer to track their time underwater during a dive. It also has a small date aperture at 3 o'clock without the Cyclops magnifying lens that usually appears over the date on other Rolex models.

Photo of Rolex Deepsea and Yacht-Master II Models Side by Side
Rolex Deepsea and Yacht-Master II Models Side by Side
Both models come with a stainless steel Oyster bracelets, the Deepsea's with all brushed steel links and the Yacht-Master II's with polished center links. Both of their clasps come with Fliplock extension systems, but the Deepsea's also comes with the Glidelock extension system, giving it an additional 20 mm of length at 2 mm increments. The Yacht-Master II's clasp has an Easylink that adds 5 mm to the length of the bracelet.

These aesthetic of these models differ greatly, with the Deepsea resembling a classic dive watch and the Yacht-Master II offering a bold and colorful nautical design. It is safe to assume that not everyone who purchases the Deepsea is a professional diver and not every Yacht-Master II owner participates in yacht races. So, while their functionalities differ, it is more likely that the purchase of one of these timepieces is based on legacy, aesthetic, price and personal preference.

The suggested retail price for the stainless steel Rolex Deepsea (Reference # 116660) shown in the photos above is 11,500 Swiss francs, or approximately $11,701 USD. The stainless steel Rolex Yacht-Master II (Reference # 116680) in this comparison goes for 17,800 Swiss francs or approximately $18,112 USD. For more information on either one of these models, visit rolex.com.

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When Should I Service My Rolex?

There are as many opinions about how often to service your Rolex watches as there are opinions about the watches themselves. While experiences vary and every watch is different, Rolex recommends that their timepieces receive service at least every five years. The servicing itself takes about a month and includes several tests to make sure that the timepiece is functioning optimally. 

When To Service Your Rolex (photo: Rolex)
When To Service Your Rolex (photo: Rolex/Jean-Daniel Mayer)
When you drop off your watch for a service, it is initially inspected to assess any damage that would require additional repairs beyond the standard servicing. Damage to the crystal, dial or major components of the movement like the balance wheel or crystals would require repairs beyond the scope of a standard service. The servicing does cover the replacement of smaller parts of the movement like wheels, cogs and springs, though.

The actual servicing entails disassembling the entire movement, washing and lubricating the parts, replacing the waterproof seals and putting the movement back together again. The case and bracelet are polished and once the watch is put back together it undergoes several tests before going back to the client. The power reserve is tested followed by waterproof pressure testing to make sure that the case has no leaks that would break the seal of the case. The precision of the watch is also tested on a machine that simulates the movement of the watch on the wrist for a few days, allowing the watchmaker to make sure that the watch isn't losing time.

The reason it is important to get servicing done every few years is that the replacement of the lubricants and cleaning of the parts increases the longevity of the timepiece and keeps the parts from drying up and corroding over time. For more information on servicing your Rolex visit rolex.com to find a service center near you.

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Does Rolex Make Their Own Movements?

Over the past couple of decades Rolex has rolled out several tech innovations that have allowed them to almost fully integrate their wristwatch production. All of the models currently in production at their facilities in Switzerland are equipped with self-winding mechanical movements that are made in-house by the watchmaker and certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). 

Photo of a Rolex Movement (photo: Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer)
Rolex Movement (photo: Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer)
The movements used in men's Rolex models are equipped with a blue Parachrom hairspring patented by the watchmaker. The alloy used for the hairspring consists of niobium, zirconium and oxygen. It is insensitive to magnetic fields and able to compensate for temperature variations, allowing it to remain precise even in less than ideal conditions. Rolex introduced the Syloxi hairspring, made using silicon, in 2014 for the lady's models.

High performance lubricants, gold Microstella nuts and a traversing balance bridge also help make Rolex's in-house movements oscillate at a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour. In 2005, they introduced the Paraflex shock absorber that doubled the shock absorption of previous movements. The watchmaker continues to integrate their production processes, giving them more control over the quality and precision of their timepieces.

For more information about the tech innovations that have gone into producing Rolex's in-house movements, check out my article of the Top 5 Rolex Tech Innovations. For details on individual movements, Rolex proprietary materials and more, visit the Tech section of this blog.

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What Rolex Model do Rappers Wear?

In any profession, buying a luxury timepiece is a symbol of status and achievement. The rap game is no different, with most of the top hip hop artists sporting the ultimate status symbol: a gold Rolex. While different rappers choose different models, there are a few configurations that are more popular amongst the superstars of the musical genre.

Jay Z Styled with a 7 Kilo Cuban Link Chain, Celine Bracelet and Yellow Gold Rolex Sky-Dweller (photo: Haute Time)
Jay Z Styled with a 5 Kilo Cuban Link Chain, Celine ID Bracelet and Gold Rolex Sky-Dweller (photo: Haute Time)
Jay Z has an extensive luxury watch collection, switching it up from the gold Rolex Sky-Dweller he was wearing above in 2013 to the new Rolex Daytona 116500LN he was spotted wearing with wife Beyonce during the NBA finals. Another rapper with a Sky-Dweller in his collection is Meek Mill, who was gifted the diamond-encrusted custom Sky-Dweller by Nicki Minaj for his birthday earlier this year. Minaj took photos wearing a custom Datejust at Meek's birthday celebration. She has also been shot wearing a yellow gold Day-Date.

Wiz Khalifa Wearing a Custom Yellow Gold Rolex (photo: scoremoreshows.com)
The Day-Date and Datejust models are popular amongst rap giants like Wiz Khalifa, Eminem, Young Thug and Tory Lanez. Young Thug was photographed for GQ wearing a custom Rolex earlier this year and Lanez wore a yellow gold President Rolex for his performance of 'Say It' on Jimmy Kimmel Live last January. Wiz Khalifa has worn a vintage yellow gold Rolex Day-Date in photo shoots for GQ and his Instagram feed. Eminem made headlines years ago for wondering if he could afford a Rolex after he achieved success as a rapper. It turned out he could and was photographed wearing a Datejust for the cover of Rolling Stone.

While there isn't one particular Rolex model that appeals to all rappers, most of the rappers I have profiled on this blog seem to prefer yellow gold Day-Date or Datejust models with President bracelets. There are those who prefer custom versions with diamonds and purists like Jay Z, who seems to prefer wearing the newest Rolex models direct from the manufacturer in their original configurations.

Yellow Gold Rolex Day-Date (photo: Rolex)
The yellow gold Rolex Day-Date in the photo above retails for approximately $33,459 USD. For more information on this configuration, click here. To see which Rolex models all of your favorite celebrities wear, check out our Celebrities Wearing Rolex Watches page. To check Rolex's entire line of wristwatches, visit rolex.com.

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