For decades the Rolex Datejust has been the watch of choice of people who wanted a robust, reliable and precise timepiece that did not compromise when it came to luxury, craftsmanship, and individual taste. The Datejust has been all of this since its conception in 1945, the year that Rolex celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Datejust was groundbreaking from the beginning, being the first self‑winding wrist chronometer that showed the date in a window on the dial. It created the mold to which still many watches are created today.
Initially, that date window was missing something that many now see as a signature feature of the Datejust: the cyclops lens. In 1954 Rolex first fitted the Datejust with a crystal that had this small magnifier build in, increasing the convenience of the watch even more. In 1957 the men’s version was joined by the Lady-Datejust, which offered the same package yet in a slightly smaller diameter.
Key to Success
Key to the success of the Rolex Datejust has always been its versatility. Future owners have a nearly endless array of options when it comes to dial, bezel, and bracelet choices. While some might prefer a steel case, and a steel Oyster bracelet combined with a plain bezel and understated dial, others opt for a precious metal case and bracelet, perhaps even with a diamond setting. The Datejust can go either way and delivers both extremes with that famous Rolex quality, as well as that signature look.
Evolution over Revolution
Throughout its existence, the Datejust remained faithful to its original size of 36mm in diameter. It wasn’t until 2009 that Rolex introduced the Datejust II, for which the diameter grew to 41mm. This also made the watch an option for those who prefer a larger watch, yet Rolex kept the regular sized Datejust in production as well for those who preferred the watch in its classic diameter.
Over the years the Datejust evolved, but never went through a revolution. Born way ahead of its time it also never needed it. Rolex focussed mainly on improving the movement over the years, like the introduction of the hacking second mechanism in 1972. Because the Rolex Datejust stayed to close to its original DNA, it has maintained its status of a watchmaking benchmark up until today, and probably extends this too far into the future.