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by Li Wang September 20, 2020 2 min read

When Jay-Z wears anything, people pay attention. He wore Rolex Day-Date (ref. 228206) in platinum gold with a dial using Arabic numerals and day-of-the week indicator during an interview for The New York Times in 2017. As you can see in the photo below, it’s not a Rolex watch one typically sees. 


Photo courtesy of Superwatchman.com

Rolex caters to particular markets, and in the 1950s, they made limited edition watches for the Middle East. Some came with Eastern Arabic numerals for the hours and become known simply as  “Arabic dials”.

Eric Ku, vintage Rolex expert, told Watches by SJX, “Rolex’s willingness to tailor its watches to the specific needs and tastes of its clientele in order to increase sales to an emerging luxury market” was the rationale behind such Arabic dials.

These numerals originated from symbols from the Hindu-Arabic numeral system and in current times associated with oil moguls using this “Arabic script,” lending this type of Rolex a regal air.


Photo courtesy of @
maxtor71

There’s not a very accurate record of when and how many of these watches Rolex put into production during the 1950s, but Arabic dial Rolex watches became sought-after. They have been in production until the late 1970s. But in 2016 Rolex revived the Arabic dial Day-Date debuting its Ice Blue dial version at Baselworld.


Photo courtesy of Phillips.com

So you may wonder even if you could afford one of these Arabic dial Day-Dates (one here is listed for over $92,000), you may wonder if you’d be able to read the day and date. You could learn the days of the week and numerals, but you could also skip that part of the ownership process and just enjoy having a beautiful, exclusive watch on your wrist.

While I’ve owned much more affordable Seiko watches that feature a Kanji or Spanish day display, I can verify that it’s pretty cool to have a watch that’s not English.


Photo courtesy of Phillips.com

What’s fun, and ever-beguiling at the same time, for Rolex aficionados is to appreciate the brand’s willingness to do whatever it deems is a right move to create demand and exclusivity. While frustrating as it is on how difficult it is to get certain Rolex models, that’s part of the game and, of course, bragging rights if a collector is able to secure a timepiece that is exclusive.

When you are in Jay-Z’s world, owning an Arabic (script) dial platinum Day-Date is a subtle flex that shows off his particular tastes and ability to procure rare objects. For many of us, the quest may be sought after at lower price points, but this hunt for the not-so-standard Rolex in a sea of modern Submariners and Datejusts can be what separates collectors from people who just want a nice watch.

Li Wang
Li Wang



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