Wristwatches were considered a female accessory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. With the introduction of the Rolex Datejust, the wristwatch became a desirable piece of jewelry not only for women but also for men. The Datejust features simplistic details and precious metal construction along with the innovating date display function.
History of the Rolex Datejust
Hans Wilsdorf and Aldred Davis founded the company in 1905 under the name Wilsdorf & Davis. The name was changed after they moved the company to Switzerland. The Rolex Datejust was first introduced in 1945 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rolex brand. The groundbreaking date display mixed with simple details and its precious metal construction led to the Datejust becoming popular for both men and women. Since its introduction, the Datejust has been the most recognizable and iconic watch in the world.
This timepiece was originally only available in 18k gold with a small bubbleback winder with a deeply domed back. The Datejust had features including a 36mm case diameter, an automatically-changing date mechanism, and an Oyster case allowing up to 100 meters of water resistance. It was first only available in 18k gold and fitted with a Jubilee bracelet, which became the bracelet associated with the Datejust.
The name Datejust came in the 1950s, which is when they first printed it on the dial. In 1954, Rolex improved on the Datejust with the addition of the Cyclops lens to the case. It increased the legibility of the date by two and a half times. The Cyclops lens is now standard on Rolexes. In 1957, a lighter, thinner movement was introduced, which allowed the domed case back to be replaced with a flattened case back to create a thinner profile.
They released a newer Datejust in 1955 with a gold Turn-o-Graph bezel that functioned as a stopwatch. This watch was awarded to U.S. Airforce pilots once they returned from combat missions.
During the 1970s, the Datejust reached widespread popularity. Datejust watches have a long history of being worn by notable figures including the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr., President Dwight Eisenhower, Winston Churchill, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Marlon Brando, and Paul Newman.What Makes the Rolex Datejust Popular?
The Rolex Datejust was an advanced timepiece for its time. Throughout the years, Rolex has made improvements, but contemporary Datejust watches still bear similar aesthetics and design features like the one introduced back in 1945. The variety of options with the dials, cases, bracelets, and movements have made the Datejust stand the test of time.
The dial is the face of these classic timepieces, and the dial on the Datejust was the first watch to display the visible date on the dial. When Rolex made updates from the original Datejust, they added the magnifying “cyclops” lens over the date display, which made the date easier to read. There are four dials that have made up the Datejust over its long history.
- The “Buckley” dial featured Roman numerals and has either black or white hands and indices. You could find the Buckley dial on most Datejust models of the 70s and 80s. This dial is not exclusive for the Datejust, but it does add to the classic look of the Datejust.
- The “Sigma” dial makes for a more expensive Datejust with the Greek letter sigma at the 6 o’clock position. The use of the sigma indicates that they crafted the hands and indices from gold. You will only find the Sigma dial on Datejusts from the 70s.
- The “Linen” dial features a texture that complements the Datejust’s retro look. You will find the Linen dial on various models and in a range of colors. This dial is at its best when the light can reflect off of its stunning engraving. The Linen dial is currently not featured on any Datejust models.
- They named the “Pie Pan” dial for the shape of the dial with its angled outer ring resembling an inverted pie pan. The pie-pan dial design was popular during the 60s and 70s. While it’s not exclusive to the Datejust, it does add depth to the watch’s design.
The case contains the unique movement and dials of the Datejust as well as protecting them from the elements and wear and tear.
- The original Datejust case was the waterproof Oyster case. Rolex first introduced the Oyster case in 1929.
- The original case size of the Datejust was 36mm, allowing it to fit various wrist sizes.
- The 1945 Datejust featured a screw-down winding crown, which helps to keep dust and water out.
- Rolex fitted the larger Oyster case (41mm) on the Datejust II with Twinlock screw-down winding crowns, helping it stay waterproof up to 100 meters.
- The case now comes in various sizes to fit all wrist sizes, including 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, and 41mm.
Bracelets are what secures any timepiece to the wrist. Rolex created an elegant bracelet that elevates the iconic look of the Datejust.
- Rolex launched the Jubilee bracelet with the Datejust’s first appearance in 1945. The Jubilee bracelet has been associated with the Datejust since. The metal bracelet features a five-link configuration that is fitted with a concealed Crownclasp to provide a seamless look to this iconic timepiece.
- Rolex added the Oyster bracelet when they launched the Datejust II. The Oyster bracelet is much sportier than the Jubilee bracelet. The Oyster bracelet has flat, three-piece links fitted with the standard Oysterclasp. The Datejust II was exclusively on the three-link Oyster bracelet.
Inside every watch is the engine that keeps it ticking, called the movement. The Datejusts movement keeps this elegant timepiece moving.
- Originally the Datejust featured perpetual movement, which was also called an automatic caliber, from 1931.
- When Rolex introduced the Calibre 3035 movement in 1977, they also introduced the quickset, which made the Datejust unique and functional.
- The chronometer on the 1945 model was the first self-winding wrist chronometer. The chronometer made it so the wearer no longer had to wind their Datejust daily.
- Upgraded movements that eventually slimmed down the watch in the 1950s.
- The Datejust 41 is equipped with a Calibre 3235 movement that increased the power reserve from 48-hours to 70 hours.
Rolex Datejusts also come in a wide selection of metal options and bezel styles, which makes the Datejust more unique for each owner. These variations have created a classy timepiece that never goes out of this popular style.
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Popular Rolex Datejust Models
Adding to its appeal offered by the Rolex Datejust is that you can own an elegant piece of Rolex history without having to spend a lot of money.
- Datejust 36 - The Rolex Datejust 36 includes a 36mm Oyster case, and the size of the case works for a range of wrists. This is the most popular size of men’s Datejust watches. Rolex introduced the new generation of the Datejust 36 in 2018 with a redesigned case sporting reshaped lugs and a new movement. The Datejust 36 is a classic timepiece that has stood the test of time.
- Datejust II - Rolex released the much dressier Datejust II in 2009, which was a 41mm version of the classic Datejust. This larger model changed the watch’s overall proportions with broad lugs and a wider Oyster bracelet making the watch more masculine. Rolex discontinued the Datejust II back in 2016.
- Datejust 41 - After Rolex discontinued the Datejust II, Rolex introduced Datejust 41 in 2016. It has the same 41mm case as the Datejust II, but is slimmer, has leaner lugs, and a thinner bezel. This made for a sportier-looking timepiece. There was even a choice between an Oyster bracelet or a Jubilee bracelet and is available in various materials.
Why Should You Consider a Rolex Datejust for Your Next Watch?
Besides being an innovative piece of watchmaking, the Rolex Datejust is a timeless, versatile dress watch that also looks good. Due to the popularity of the Datejust, you can easily find the Rolex model that best fits your desire - brand new, pre-owned, or used. You don’t have to worry about being placed on a waitlist for the Datejust like you would with other Rolex models. You don’t have to buy a much more rare Rolex in order to get an elegant, classy everyday watch. Perhaps you have one you'd like to part with? We'll buy your Rolex watches.
Add a Rolex Datejust to Your Collection
The Rolex Datejust has a lower price point than other Rolex watches, which makes this attractive minimal piece affordable for everyone from the casual watch wearer to the die-hard watch enthusiast. Contact the specialists at U.S. Coins and Jewelry to help you find the pre-owned or used Rolex Datejust that suits your wants and needs. With our watch authenticity guarantee, you can feel safe knowing your Rolex is 100% authentic.