Rolex, ever the forerunner of technology, released the advanced Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust in 1945, coinciding with the 40th Anniversary of the Rolex Company. The Datejust was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date in a small window at 3 o’clock on the dial. Its unique magnifying Cyclops eye, added several years later, increased legibility by two and half times, and soon came to be recognized as a Rolex standard. The Datejust has been admired for its classic design and appearance, which has only been slightly altered over the years, thus has become an iconic symbol of style.
Like other Rolex watches, the Datejust is an officially certified chronometer. The Oyster case is also waterproof; a new technology Rolex was able to bring to their luxury watch line. The original Datejust was launched with a bezel size of 36mm. However, additional sizes, including a women’s line, later altered this. As with many of Rolex’s watches, the Datejust is offered with two classic Rolex bracelets options, including the specially designed Rolex Jubilee and the Oyster.
The most renowned feature of the Datejust is certainly its date feature. In the earliest models, the date would begin to change hours before it was supposed to at midnight. In 1955, the date-change mechanism was adapted to operate instantaneously, and the magnifying Cyclops lens was added.
A special model, the Turn-O-Graph model, was introduced in 1955. Given as an award to US Air Force pilots returning from combat missions, it featured a rotating bezel marked to 60 minutes, which can be used to measure time intervals. Datejusts of this type have been nicknamed "Thunderbirds." The main difference between the standard Datejust and the Thunderbird Datejust is the Turn-O-Graph bezel.
Throughout the history of Rolex, the brand has made a number of innovations. Rolex had taken watch making to a whole new level. The Datejust was the forerunner of a new set of watches, including the Rolex Explorer, Rolex Submariner, and Rolex Deepdweller, each designed with a specific type of adventure wearer in mind, featuring technological innovations and additions they could utilize in their various adventures. In the case of the Rolex Explorer, for example, the design was concentrated on Sir Edmund Hillary's Mount Everest expedition. However, with the Turn-o-Graph model of the Datejust, Rolex specifically attempted to appeal to pilots. Rolex seems to have achieved its aim when Chuck Yeager wore a Turn-O-Graph model of the Datejust when he broke the sound barrier. Other famous characters and people have also worn the Datejust, including Paul Newman in the film the Color of Money, and Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.
The Rolex Datejust remained the most popular watch produced by the company until 1956. At this time, Rolex introduced the Day-Date President as its premium model, which quickly rose in popularity, especially when men, such as US President Lyndon Johnson, sported it.
The 1970s introduced four key features to the Datejust that significantly changed it from its original design. With the addition of the new 3135 movement, a new case and dial were designed to accommodate the quick-set feature. This resulted in the new Datejust having a smaller profile than the original. In the new version, the Datejust’s old plastic acrylic crystal was replaced by a sapphire crystal, which offered optimal scratch resistance. It gave the Datejust the classic look of the face still used is today.
Rolex, always expanding and incorporating new ideas, not only appealed their designs to men, but also to women. The Lady Datejust was launched in the late 1950s. The Lady Datejust was the first female-specific version of the Rolex date chronometer. Thus, the skill and technology used to create the larger male version were now use to create a smaller timepiece, yet maintaining its aesthetically appeal and usability. Like the male version, the female Datejust shares all the features of its larger counterpart. Officially certified, each model contains a Perpetual self-winding movement. Each model is also equipped with a Twinlock winding crown, ensuring the timepiece remains pressure and water -proof to a depth of 100 meters (330 feet). All components are held within a case crafted from a single block of metal. Artistically and masterfully made, the Lady’s Datejust is just as desirable a find as its male counterpart.
In 2009, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust II was released. The newly designed Datejust II features an updated movement, the caliber 3136. The new calibre 3136 is a self-winding mechanical movement. Like other calibres, this one is entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. Also like all other Rolex Perpetual movements, the 3136 has been certified as a Swiss chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). The 3136 features a Parachrom hairspring and high performance Paraflex shock absorbers, offering greater resistance to shocks and to extreme conditions, making it performance precise and reliable.
To contain this new movement, a larger case was created. Still utilizing tried and proven technology, the Oyster case features a screw-down back with Twinloack system. The Twinlock system features two sealed zones; one inside the tube of the crown, the other inside the winding crown. Combined, they ensure water-resistance up to 100 meters (330 feet). The Oyster case receives its name from its inspiration: the oyster. Like the Oyster, the Rolex Oyster case is clamped shut, which provides a safe and protected environment from dust, water, and pressure for the masterfully designed Perpetual movement.
The men's size is 41mm diameter and is presently only available in steel. However, the Oyster bracelet is available in white, yellow, or rose gold. The Jubilee bracelet, another option, is known for its comfort and classic design. The five-piece link metal bracelet was designed especially for the launch of the Oyster Perpetual Datejust in 1945. The Jubilee is fitted with a concealed Crownclasp, which protects from accidental opening and possible loss of the timepiece.
The Datejust is Rolex’s take on the classic watch. In fact, it is such a successful design it is considered the modern archetype of the classic watch. Its beautiful aesthetic features, including the patented oyster case and jubilee bracelet, and functional additions, such as the date view, have culminated to produce a traditional watch with modern style, sophistication, and technology.