The OG RBOW

After John Mayer’s successful return to Talking Watches,1 not to mention the nearly concurrent release of the Rolex Day-Date 36 Rainbow ref. 128345RBR at Baselworld 20192 (which was itself on the heels of the too-hot-to-handle Everose Daytona Rainbow ref. 116595RBOW in 2018),3 multi-coloured-and-bejeweled references are enjoying something of a resurgence in popularity for both men and women.

Unimaginable just twenty-four short months ago,4 it’s now entirely acceptable (perhaps even expected!) for “serious collectors” to have one or two or even a half-dozen “fun” pieces of horology that transcend their obviousness gaucheness and remind us to stop, smell the flowers, and not to take ourselves too seriously. Life is short, man! Why not have a little laugh ? It worked for the Ancient Greeks, right!5 So let’s be a bit superficial and enjoy some colour.6

So it is that the 2018 Daytona RBOW is trading for 4-5x retail7 due to a combination of production constraints,8 unpaid celebrity endorsements,9 and the generally brazen fashionability of this supposedly slow-moving and “timeless” industry. Production limitations aside, the groupthink and trendiness of the whole space never ceases to amaze (but hey, isn’t everything political?), as does its simultaneous myopia and brandishing of multi-century “legacy.”

Case in point amidst all this rainbow fever ?

The (almost) completely forgotten OG RBOW : the Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date ref. 19078 from 1982 1987.10

Rolex Oysterquartz Day-Date ref. 19068 - 1982 - Mondani

Fully three decades before the much ballyhooed Rainbow Daytona seared its colourful way into our contemporary consciousness, its forebear sported an entirely different set of complications in a considerably smaller case size and with a quartz movement. Only their objective quality of execution, empirical rarity, and nearly identical rings of flawless sapphires running ’round their respective bezels manage to bridge the divide between 20th-century Day-Date and 21st-century Daytona, between this pair of drool-inducing yet obviously overwrought icons of design.11 While B. Clymer and J.C. Mayer might claim that the 6269 and 6270 Daytonas were the predecessors to the contemporary RBOWs, you’d have to be colourblind to miss the influence of the 19078.12

But I guess that’s why independent and advertisement-free blogs still exist : to chase the rainbow. And is there a better place to be than that ?13

Don’t forget to read the footnotes. And take your Vitamin D!

___ ___ ___

  1. John Mayer’s Talking Watches archived. []
  2. 128345RBR Hodinkee article (archived, because “The H” has a funny way of deep-sixing its older articles). []
  3. 116595RBOW Hodinkee article (archived). ) []
  4. A year after release, the YG 116598 was selling at a 40% discount!!! No one wanted the gaudy lepers back when BTC was trading at $70. Today ? Bring on the bling! I blame the tasteless cryptonerds… you ? []
  5. Oh, those Greeks! They knew how to live: for that purpose it is necessary to keep bravely to the surface, the fold and the skin; to worship appearance, to believe in forms, tones, and words, in the whole Olympus of appearance! Those Greeks were superficial – from profundity !

    ~Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Aphorism #4, 1886

    Or why we #fightforbeauty []

  6. How does a Rothko make you feel ? How does a Plear ? []
  7. The 2012 YG and WG, 116598RBOW and 116599RBOW, respectively) trade for “only” 2-3x retail. []
  8. Colour-matching a smoothly transitioning gradient of sapphires into a seamless rainbow ring like the ones on these bezels is not only incredibly labourious but also requires the most talented gem-setters and gemologists in the world supplied with the absolute highest quality stones. As such, only about 200-250 of each of the YG and WG Rainbow Daytonas were produced over the course of 3ish years of production, and probably only a few dozen of the RG are currently in the wild a year after their official release.

    Needless to say, in much the same way that the best minute repeaters or rare handcrafts (eg. cloisonné, champlevé enameling, paillonné enameling, and miniature painting on enamel) are made by Patek Philippe, no one does gem-setting quite like Rolex. As long as you have the best people, slow and steady wins the race… []

  9. Unpaid celeb endorsements for the RBOW Daytona include Kevin Hart, Travis Scott, Adam Levine, Ellen Degeneres, Mark Wahlberg, and the aforementioned John Mayer. []
  10. It’s a rare bird, this. The last one to sell through at auction was at Christie’s in 2011 for 23`750 CHF. The one put up at Philips in 2017 didn’t meet reserve. Their current value ? Anyone’s guess but surely trending upwards with the rest of the rainbows.

    Update 10/04/18 : Cheers to Eric Ku for pointing out that the R serial of the Rainbow Oysterquartz Day-Date watches dates them to 1987, not 1982 as Mondani incorrectly notes. []

  11. Tasteless ? What’s “taste” anyways ?

    While the Day-Date is the “President” and a favourite of such historical luminaries as Fidel Castro and Ronald Reagan, even this legacy is no match for the atomic power of attraction to the Daytona chronograph, not least of all because of the $17.8 mn work of art calling itself “Paul Newman’s Paul Newman.” The Daytona is therefore unrivaled by the iconic Day-Date, or even by the mighty Nautilus for that matter. The Rolex chronograph is top-trumps in 2019… []

  12. H/T to SJX for also making the connection, even if Su made it to the wrong decade (archived). But independently of that, because they were indeed independent observations, it’s hard to believe that it took seven (7!) years for some kid with a blog to make the connection in writing between the 19078 and 116595/8/9RBOW, as if Su and I were the only ones with Mondani’s Rolex Encyclopedia and the ability to actually crack the damned thing now and again. Look ma, reading is a superpower now! []
  13. Even Virgil is on the rainbow trend. But then again he’s on/making every trend, up to and including my dymo labeler thing. []

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