The Oyster Perpetual Datejust isn’t just a pillar of the Rolex portfolio. Its influence is vast and can be seen on watches produced by almost every luxury brand in the world. First introduced in 1945, the Datejust is one of Rolex’s longest-running models, and it’s also one of the brand’s most iconic and recognizable. The Datejust plays a major role in, not just Rolex history, but in horology itself. So, it isn’t a far stretch to argue that the Rolex Datejust 36 is, in fact, the ultimate luxury dress watch. Let’s take a closer look at just what makes the Datejust so extraordinary.
Rolex Datejust 36 Versatility
The Datejust was originally introduced in yellow gold. However, over the decades, several metal options have become available, including all steel and two-tone – aka Rolesor. While stainless steel and yellow gold (Yellow Rolesor) is a popular choice, other two-tone options have also been introduced over the years, including steel and white gold (White Rolesor) and steel and rose gold (Everose Rolesor).
The Rolex Datejust 36 also features either a 3-link Oyster or a 5-link Jubilee bracelet, although older solid-gold versions can also be found with leather straps. Additionally, Rolex Datejust watches can have either smooth, fluted, engine-turned, or diamond bezels. While certain options such as a solid-gold construction or an engine-turned bezel have been discontinued on the current 36mm line, the Datejust still offers a remarkably diverse range of different configurations.
Pair the countless options with a waterproof case and a self-winding Perpetual movement, and the result is a wristwatch that is suitable for just about any occasion. Whether you choose to wear your Datejust daily or reserve it for formal or special occasions, it’s hard to argue with its incredible versatility.
Rolex Datejust 36 Innovations
Since its introduction, the Datejust has seen many upgrades, each of which speaks to its status as the ultimate dress watch. Among those is a redesigned Oyster case that is equipped with a Twinlock crown that screws into the Monobloc middle case to offer water resistance up to 100 meters. Newer model Datejust watches also feature an engraved rehaut and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with a Cyclops magnification lens over the date.
Depending on the year of production, newer-model Datejust watches feature either Super-LumiNova or Chromalight to provide their dials and hands with luminescence. Super-LumiNova emits a green glow, while the newer Chromalight (Rolex’s in-house lume) features a bright blue glow. Additionally, older Rolex Datejust 36 dials only feature small dots of lume next to their applied hour markers, while many modern examples have their applied markers filled with lume.
There are a number of different bracelet generations for the Rolex Datejust 36, with each new generation more solid and substantial than the last. There is noticeable weight that accompanies newer editions of the Datejust bracelet (both Oyster and Jubilee), which feature completely solid side and center links, solid end-links, and a sturdy machined clasp. This design, along with slightly broader, high-polished lugs gives the Datejust a larger presence on the wrist and overall more look and contemporary feel.
Both Oyster and Jubilee bracelets on the contemporary models also feature clasps with Rolex’s innovative Easylink extension system, which can extend the length of the bracelet by 5mm without tools. As the wrist fluctuates throughout the day, the Easylink extension can be instantaneously engaged, complete on-the-fly, allowing Datejust owners to alter the length of their bracelet to achieve the perfect fit.
Rolex Datejust 36 Movements
The Rolex Datejust 36 has been powered by a number of different movements over the years, but it has always featured a self-winding caliber. First introduced during the late 1980s the Cal. 3135 was the movement that resided inside all Datejust 36 watches until just a couple years ago. It’s a chronometer-certified, self-winding movement with a frequency of 28,800bph that features a traverse balance bridge and Rolex’s paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. The Cal. 3135 is an accurate and reliable movement that offers a 48-hour power reserve with over a quarter of a century of proven performance.
The Rolex Datejust 36 received a movement upgrade in 2018 with the introduction of the Cal. 3235. Rather than being a slight evolution of the previous Cal. 3135, the new movement is an entirely new generation built around Rolex’s new and more efficient Chronergy Escapement. Featuring a number of new features including Rolex’s Paraflex shock absorbers, the Cal. 3235 offers an accuracy rating of +/-2 seconds per day and a longer-70-hour power reserve.
From the movement that beats within the case to the impeccable metals and dials that decorate its exterior, the Datejust is a lesson in fine watchmaking. It accommodates any lifestyle and can be found on the secondary market for an incredibly attractive price. Instantly recognizable and ready to go from the beach to a black tie event, the Rolex Datejust 36 may just deserve the title as the ultimate luxury dress watch.