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Rolex Day-Date 1803 'Buckley' dial

June 30, 2021

The Rolex Day-Date is the brand's flagship watch. It always has been, and (we hope) it always will be. It's not the most complicated watch in Rolex' repertoire, nor is it the biggest or the best selling, but it's the model that's seen on famous wrists around the world time and time again, from US presidents to celebrities and maybe even people you know. It always looks great and comes in classy sizes to suit all needs. Just like every Rolex model, the Day-Date has a few historical editions which are rare and worth investing in. One such model is the Buckley dial variant.

What is a Buckley dial?

Buckley is a name given to specific Rolex dials by the watch community, which has printed Roman numeral markers instead of applied. As with all nicknames of its watches (Batman, Batgirl, Kermit etc.), the name is not officially used by Rolex at all. It actually comes from John Buckley, the owner of the pre-owned watch dealer Tuscany Rose in Brooklyn, New York. John was passionate about Rolex watches with printed dial markers and helped increase the popularity of this rare watch reference in the pre-owned market. Therefore, the community decided that Rolex watches with printed dial markers should be called 'Buckley Dials'.

Printed non-reflective markers distinguish Buckley dials from other Rolex dials

No one is quite sure why Rolex used printed markers for some of its watches, but the most common belief is that it's to aid in legibility. Most Rolex watches have gold markers which are applied by hand to the dial using secure fasteners. For some, these might not be particularly legible, especially considering the watches are generally quite small (36mm), and the crystal can distort the view of the dial.

The most common watches you'll find with Buckley dials are DateJusts. References 1601, 1603, 16014 and 16030 are all known to have many Buckley dial examples in all manner of colours (although white is probably the most popular). The watch you see before you is quite a rarity in the Rolex world. Most Buckley dials were used on DateJusts, although it is known that the Oysterquartz and Day-Date also had a few Buckley dials.

This particular Buckley dial is applied to a Day-Date 1803. It's a 36mm solid 18k yellow gold piece made way back in 1974. That means that inside this watch is the calibre 1556, an automatically-wound movement with hacking seconds to make setting the time nice and easy. Unlike later models, this movement does not have any quickset functions for the day or date windows. This particular Day-Date also has a Spanish dial for the day indicator, Rolex offered the Day-Date with a choice of 24 different languages at the time (26 today), so it is a true global icon.

The watch comes with a 1-year warranty from Watches of Wales and a complimentary insurance valuation certificate.

To find out more about John, check out this interview with him for Rock City Central on YouTube

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