Historical Elegance: the Rolex Datejust


There are very few pieces of Horology that need little introduction. arguably a very little one in this case. The Rolex Datejust not only being one of the most impactful designs for its time, it is still if not stronger than ever, seeking the appraisal of most modern watch collectors and consumers.

But why?

We have to take it back to 1945 on Rolex’s 40th anniversary. Although only being offered in 18 K gold, it’s utility for the time was a marvel. Not only did it feature the Oyster case back making it one of the few water proof watches of its time, but it was its date feature which made it stand tallest amongst the crowd. Being the first of its time, the Rolex Datejust was the first watch to ever include an automatically date changing feature. Although not an exciting complication for the standards of nowadays triple date annual calendars, for its time it was a breakthrough in design and functionality.

 

Then to now what has happened?

The date just luckily has seen little changes in its design and even buying a brand new model encapsulates at foundations the same watch released in the 1940s. However throughout the years the Date just has received its fair amount of design changes and minor alterations.

 

1954

  • Rolex adds cyclops eye magnifier to Datejust
  • Rolex produces the Datejust in rose gold, two tone and steel editions
  • Bezel changed to more of a coin edged designed than the previously fluted bezel
  • Jubilee bracelet is designed for Datejust and hence sold with it

 

1955

  • A rotating bezel is fitted on Datejust models and dubbed the "Turn o graph". This model was introduced as gifts given to US Air Force pilots returning from missions 1956
  • Premium model is offered of the date just dubbed the "Presidential"

 

1957

  • With the newer 1065 movement; the Datejust received a smoother and flatter case back replacing the previous rounded bubble-back case back 1972
  • Hacking seconds is introduced to the Datejust allowing for accurate time keeping 1974
  • Datejust is fitted with sapphire glass and its past acrylic crystal is replaced

 

1977

  • The Datejust is released with a quartz movement and dubbed the "Rolex Oyster Quartz" to adapt to the influx of Quartz movements in watches

 

2000 onwards

  • Rolex Oyster Quartz is discontinued in 2001
  • Smooth bezel offered as a alternative to fluted
  • Introduction of a Datejust 2 in 2009 which increased the diameter to 41 mm compared to the previous 36 mm

 

Personal thoughts and opinions

To put it shortly, I love this watch. It has a luxurious history for any watch enthusiast to romance with and its design I believe cannot be flawed for my daily applications. It is dressy design yet incredible utility allows you to wear this watch seamlessly from each respective occasion. Not to mention with the variety of materials and dial colours that the Datejust comes in, it’s easy to find the watch that perfectly suits the way you dress and how you go about your day to day activities. However with all these positives somethings need to be addressed.

The price of the Datejust is undoubtedly high and for most individuals it is unobtainable unfortunately. Brand new to second hand; it’s still all around expensive watch. Like a lot of watches in this price range you’re paying for the history, heritage of the brand and craftsmanship ; for that it makes sense. You cannot simply purchase or easily repeat what this watch has done for horology; in addition what Rolex has also done for horology. These factors alone demand a premium however...this watch still stands as a piece of history in Swiss watch making and that is something I think we can all deeply appreciate.