The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust watch is one of the company’s oldest models that are still in production today. Originally released in 1945, the Datejust was created to celebrate Rolex’s 40th anniversary. It seems almost unreal when you look back at the 1945 Rolex oyster perpetual Datejust, then fast-forward to the new models offered today. The first reference was 4467 and was the first automatic wristwatch to feature an automatically changing date window. Originally, these models were only available in yellow gold with a specially made gold Jubilee bracelet. The matching gold bezel is slightly fluted, a feature later enhanced in subsequent references. The watch’s creamy white dial features applied gold baton hour markers and a “roulette” date window that shows even days in a red font and odd days in black font. The original reference did not feature the now-famous cyclopse magnifier on the crystal. This would not be introduced until 1955.
Over the years there have been countless variations. Eventually the watch was made in a variety of materials, from two-tone steel and rose gold to entirely steel models. The Datejust name appears sporadically on many references, including 5030 and 5031. It eventually became a permanent fixture in later references like 6074 and 6075. There have also been many famous people who have worn this model over the years including US President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal solid gold Datejust ref 6305. After gracing the cover of Life magazine on Eisenhower’s wrist, the Datejust cemented its place in pop-culture. Though a separate watch family, Rolex did introduce the Datejust II in 2009. The new addition is a larger size, measuring 41mm. Because it possesses much of the same styling as the original, it really appeals to those who simply want a larger watch.
Today, the reference 16200 family of Datejust wristwatches is produced by Rolex. Reference 116200 measures 36mm and is a modern version of the classic 1950s make. Unlike the original, which were only available in yellow gold, the modern versions are available in many possible combinations of metals (like the two-tone Rolex model below), dials and other details. Though the modern models inherits much from its predecessors, it contains the highly advanced caliber 3135 movement. This COSC-certified chronometer automatic 31 jewels movement features a 50 hours power reserve. The Parachrom hairspring makes the watch far more resistant to shocks. Manufactured entirely in-house, this caliber is truly impressive.
As one of Rolex’s oldest and most successful models, the Datejust has certainly earned its place in any serious collector’s timepiece collection.