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In Depth

A Date To Remember: 75 Years Of The Rolex Datejust

By Sarah Jayne Potter | 4 minute read

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First released in 1945, the Rolex Datejust has remained an ever-present example of quality Swiss watchmaking, beautifully merging both form and function while spanning numerous eras and fashions. Here we present two of our favourite Datejust 31 models.

- In 2020, the iconic Rolex Datejust celebrates 75 years.

- A hugely innovative timepiece, it changed the face of Swiss watchmaking.

- It remains a design classic and is considered Rolex’s ‘watch of reference’.

- It’s available in a wealth of materials, sizes and dial options.

Perpetual presence: Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31mm in Oystersteel

Aesthetically, the Rolex Datejust has retained those timeless qualities that have made it one of the most iconic and sought-after dress watches of all time. This stunning Datejust 31mm in Oystersteel is not only a guaranteed head-turner, but durable too. Most horology brands use 316L stainless steel, which is more than adequate for most everyday uses and environments. However, Rolex deploys a uniquely robust blend of 904L stainless steel that’s highly resistant to a number of different forms of corrosion. The Datejust 31 also benefits from a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Rolex’s signature Cyclops lens over its date window. The latter, introduced to the Datejust collection in 1953, magnifies the display by two and a half times for greater legibility. This lovely example with a pink sunray dial is presented on a bracelet that has a folding Oysterclasp with an Easylink comfort extension link. In our view, it’s well worth considering if you’re seeking a watch that will last a lifetime.

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This Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 offers not only a desirable design but durability, too, thanks to its use of the superior corrosion-resistant 904L steel known as Oystersteel, featured on the right.

Enduring charm: Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31mm in Oystersteel and white gold

The Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 in Oystersteel and white gold has an enchanting silver sunray-finished, diamond-set dial that will lend a sparkle to any room. Adorned with Rolex’s classic fluted bezel and screw-down crown, it’s both attractive and reassuringly robust. The fluting originally served a functional purpose: like the fluting on the case back, it served to screw the bezel onto the case, helping to ensure the waterproofness of the watch. Over time, however, it became merely an aesthetic element, and that was taken care of by the brand’s Twinlock double-waterproofness system, which allows the Datejust 31 to be worn to a depth of 100m. A COSC-certified 2235 movement that’s further tested in its case to Rolex’s rigorous Superlative Chronometer standards, it’s presented on the brand’s iconic five-piece-link Jubilee bracelet with a concealed folding Crownclasp, offering the wearer both confidence and comfort on the wrist.

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The combination of a case in Oystersteel and light-reflecting white gold, with a glittering diamond-set dial makes this Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 a real show-stopper

Timeless style: a classic for daily wear

For 75 years, the Rolex Datejust has been coveted by both men and women. A truly unisex watch, it excels equally as a dress piece and as daily wear. Whether worn to a business meeting or when relaxing by the pool, the Datejust is always the ideal choice.

It’s available in an array of configurations, so you can choose between different materials, dial colours and sizes: 31mm, 36mm and 41mm. From smooth to fluted bezels, and from diamond to roman-numeral hour markers, in its endless adaptability, this watch has really stood the test of time. A true classic, and a must-have for any watch collector with an eye for style.

Watch of reference: the Rolex Datejust

Created in 1945, the Datejust was the first automatic waterproof chronometer wristwatch that displayed a numerical date in a window at 3 o’clock. It represented a new dawn for horology – prior to its release, watches had traditionally told the date via a third hand pointing to markings around the edge of the dial. The Datejust offered a smarter, cleaner, more legible solution. When Rolex added the Cyclops lens to the crystal eight years later, its domed shape further increased the legibility and made the Datejust even more distinct.

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The Datejust is immediately identifiable by the signature Cyclop lens in the sapphire crystal, which is set over the date window to increase its legibility more than two and a half times

The Datejust is rightly regarded as Rolex’s ‘classic watch of reference’. The entire range, across all materials and sizes, is right up there with the very best contemporary yet classic dress watches money can buy.

Listen to our podcast, in which Watches of Switzerland Group CEO Brian Duffy talks to Rolex expert James Dowling about the house’s ground-breaking work and how it became one of the most recognisable luxury watch brands in the world.

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