The Rolex Datejust isn’t just a watch, it’s the watch. Not as dressy as the President or the Cellini, nor as overtly sporty as the Submariner or Daytona, the Datejust is the perfect mix of style and substance – with enough variety in size, materials, and configurations to be the only watch you ever need.
As the brand’s best-selling watch of all time, the Rolex Datejust set new standards in 1945 that are still adhered to today. A classic, timeless example of the brand’s dedication to sophistication and functionality, the Datejust is the perfect companion for everyday life, yet striking enough to always be noticed and admired. Whether you’re looking for the ideal everyday companion, a timeless classic to add to your collection, or simply a timepiece that will last a lifetime, you’re sure to find exactly what you’re looking for in a Rolex Datejust.
Table of Contents:
The Rolex Datejust
Datejust Fast Facts:
– First introduced in 1945.
– Rolex’s best-selling watch of all time.
– Released to celebrate Rolex’s 40th anniversary.
– First self-winding chronometer wristwatch to indicate the date through a window on the dial.
– Available in a wide variety of different sizes (26mm – 41mm).
– Rolex’s most diverse collection of watches.
– Worn by countless world leaders and celebrities.
Rolex Datejust Key Features
There are a few key features of the Rolex Datejust that everyone should know about when researching this timepiece.
A Waterproof Oyster case
The Rolex Oyster case was first developed in 1926 as the world’s first truly waterproof watch case. Not only did this invention revolutionize the industry, but it cemented the transformation of the wristwatch from a delicate fashion item largely worn by women, into a vital and utilitarian accessory that could be worn every day. Since its inception, the Rolex Datejust has always featured the brand’s Oyster case, which is renowned for not only its water-resistance but its ability to reliably shield the watch’s internal movements from everyday wear and even physically demanding sports or professions.
A screw-down Twinlock winding crown
The Oyster case’s ability to prevent water from leaking into the movement was thanks in part to its screw-down winding crown. Modern versions of the Datejust use the brand’s Twinlock crown, which includes two sets of O-ring gaskets – one under the crown to push against the case tube to create a wall against outside moisture, the second inside the tube surrounding the winding stem as a second layer of protection.
A date window at three o’clock
The Rolex Datejust was the world’s first self-winding chronometer wristwatch to include an automatically changing date mechanism on its dial. However, the date mechanism in the early Datejust models did not have the technology required to change the date instantaneously at midnight. Instead, these early Datejust watches slowly switched over, much like the date displays found on many other non-Rolex watches today. The new mechanism that was introduced in the 1950s allowed the date to immediately jump to the new date at the stroke of midnight and today, this feature remains one of Datejust’s most defining characteristics.
A Cyclops magnification lens on the crystal
In 1953, almost a decade after it was first released, Rolex added a bubble-like Cyclops magnification lens to the exterior of the crystal to magnify the date display that sits at 3-o’clock. Back then, this lens (along with the rest of the crystal) was made out of acrylic. Today, the Cyclops lens that sits on top of the scratch-resistant sapphire is also made out of synthetic sapphire.
An automatic movement (except for Oysterquartz versions)
Besides the quartz variants of the Datejust which are known as Oysterquartz models, what defines the Rolex Datejust is its reliable automatic movement. Over the years, Rolex has upgraded the self-winding movement inside the Datejust with each new iteration improving upon the last, with the current version being the Caliber 3235 that can be found inside the modern 36mm and 41mm versions today. Even the smallest women’s sizes, such as the 26mm Lady-Datejust model feature automatic-winding movements.
Rolex Datejust: The Watch That Changed History
Released in 1945 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rolex, the Datejust was built to be an icon with a timeless and universal aesthetic that’s still celebrated today. The Rolex Datejust also made the history books for being the world’s first self-winding chronometer wristwatch to display the date of the month through a window on the dial, and this has not changed despite remaining in production for more than three quarters of a century.
If you’re wondering, ‘How good is the Rolex Datejust watch?’ all you have to know is that it changed watchmaking forever. Today, we take this technology for granted, as the vast majority of date-displaying watches depict their calendar displays this way. However, not only was this advancement for the Datejust truly revolutionary, but it set a standard for watchmaking that still stands today.
To create this new, historic timepiece, Rolex combined two of their best innovations: the waterproof Oyster case (invented in 1926) and the self-winding Perpetual movement (invented in 1931). The newest additions were the date display on the dial and the aptly named Jubilee bracelet, which was designed specifically for the Datejust and characterized by its five-link construction consisting of semi-circular links. The very first Rolex Datejust to be released was crafted entirely in yellow gold and featured a 36mm case topped with a coin-edge fluted bezel.
Rolex continued to modify the Datejust over the next several years and added details that have now become essential to the watch’s design, such as the bubble-like Cyclops lens that was attached to the exterior of the crystal to magnify the date display. Below, you can see some of the other biggest advancements to occur within the Datejust collection over the years.
Rolex Datejust Timeline
1945 – Rolex unveils the Datejust to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary.
1953 – Rolex adds Cyclops lens above the date window.
1954 – Datejust “Turn-O-Graph” introduced with a rotating bezel.
1957 – Rolex modifies the Datejust to include instantaneous date change; Lady-Datejust introduced.
1960s – Midsize Datejust introduced.
1977 – Oysterquartz Datejust introduced.
2009 – Datejust II with a 41mm case introduced.
2015 – Lady-Datejust 28 replaces Lady-Datejust 26.
2016 – Datejust 41 replaces Datejust II.
The Appealing Variety of the Datejust
While the very first Rolex Datejust was only available in yellow gold, the model is now Rolex’s most diverse collection of watches. From size to alloy and bezel/dial options, Datejust watches offer a large selection of different aesthetic styles. To many, the ability to have so many options makes the Datejust one of the best watches currently available.
Datejust Size Options
The original Datejust size of 36mm is the brand’s most traditional sizing and a favorite among many collectors. Today, both men and women opt for this size, as it sits comfortably and beautifully on virtually any wrist. However, over the years, Rolex has expanded its offerings so that everyone could wear a Datejust that fits them perfectly. Today, the 28mm Lady Datejust (the smallest size currently in production) is incredibly popular, as is the 41mm Rolex Datejust 41, which is a nod to the changing times and modern trends towards larger timepieces.
– Lady-Datejust: 26mm (discontinued)
– Lady-Datejust: 28mm
– Midsize Datejust: 31mm
– Datejust 36: 36mm
– Datejust II: 41mm (discontinued)
– Datejust 41: 41mm
Today, there are now four main models of the Datejust available in Rolex’s retail catalog: the midsize Datejust 31, Datejust 36, Datejust 41, and Lady-Datejust 28.
Datejust Metal Options
Over the years, Rolex has offered the Datejust in virtually every metal that the brand uses. The very first Rolex Datejust was outfitted in yellow gold, but it can also be found in Everose (Rolex’s proprietary rose gold alloy) and even platinum (midsize and Lady-Datejust models only). However, the fan-favorite is always two-tone stainless steel and gold configuration (known as Rolesor), and Rolex makes these bi-metal models with yellow, Everose, and white gold.
– Stainless steel
– Yellow gold
– White gold
– Everose gold
– Yellow Rolesor (two-tone yellow gold and stainless steel)
– White Rolesor (stainless steel with a white gold bezel)
– Everose Rolesor (two-tone rose gold and stainless steel)
– Platinum (limited to Lady-Datejust and midsize Datejust models)
Datejust Bezel Options
The bezel that sits on top of the Datejust’s Oyster case can define the entire timepiece. Often, those who want a dressier look and feel for their classic Datejust opt for the traditional fluted bezel, which catches the light beautifully and is often offered on Rolesor and solid gold models. The smooth bezel is another favorite amongst Rolex Datejust collectors, as it provides a slightly more modern and casual overall appearance.
– Engine-turned (discontinued)
– Rotating “Turn-O-Graph” (discontinued)
Datejust Bracelet Options
The most famous bracelet associated with the Datejust is the Jubilee. Launched alongside the Datejust in 1945, this anniversary edition bracelet, known for its stunning design of five metal links, is entirely sophisticated. However, there are also other bracelet options available for the Datejust, allowing buyers to find a model that perfectly suits their individual style.
– Five-link Jubilee
– Three-link Oyster
– Three-link President (limited to Lady-Datejust and midsize Datejust models)
– Leather straps (discontinued)
– Integrated Jubilee and Oyster (exclusive to Oysterquartz; discontinued)
So, how good is the Rolex Datejust?
Simply put, the Rolex Datejust is as good as it gets. Widely considered to be the quintessential Rolex watch, the Datejust can easily be the only watch a person owns, and it will never look out of place, regardless of whether they are wearing a business suit or a swimsuit. With sheer functionality that meets timeless and elegant style, a modern or vintage Datejust will look great on your wrist every single day and easily last you a lifetime.
Whether your budget reaches into the tens of thousands or you only want to invest a few grand, there will always be a Rolex Datejust with your name on it, especially when shopping on the secondary market. Classic, durable, and about as timeless a design as you will find in the entire industry, the Rolex Datejust is the watch every collector wants in their watch box.