An iconic model, the Rolex Datejust was launched in 1945 as the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch to display the date at the 3 o’clock on the dial, and the world’s first watch to feature a date function that automatically changed. As one of Rolex’s most emblematic and top-selling watches, the Datejust is a reliable piece with unlimited configurations. In fact, it’s so popular that it’s the best selling model in at least 4 countries—check out this breakdown of the top watch brands by country to learn more.
While Datejust models have introduced new features over past decades, its enduring aesthetic has remained the same. Made for practical everyday wear, the Rolex Datejust is a highly accurate and suitable timepiece for any occasion.
The History of the Rolex Datejust
Since the collection’s launch in 1945 for the brand’s 40th anniversary, it has remained in constant production. Interestingly, the very first model was technically reference 4467, but it didn’t yet carry the Datejust name. Once the 1950s rolled around, the name became more standard and the design was finished off with the renowned Cyclops magnification lens on the crystal’s surface. This feature has set the precedent and standard for today’s date-displaying wristwatches.
A Matter of Movement
Rolex’s revolutionary date display became the watchmaking standard after 1945. Prior to the Rolex Datejust, watches indicated the date by a hand pointing to markings around the edge of the dial. The Rolex Datejust was released using the Calibre 710, later replaced with the Calibre 730, which uses 17 jewels. While these movements were reliable, they were difficult to service. In 1957, the design of the Datejust changed to incorporate the new Calibre 1065 and date magnifier known as the Cyclops lens for easy reading. The caliber changed again in 1965, with the introduction of the Calibre 1570. In 1988, the Calibre 3135 was introduced, improving, but not totally renewing, the watch’s movements.
With automatic winding, high accuracy, and high water resistance, the Rolex Datejust became one of Rolex’s most wearable watches. Many elements of the model such as the dial layout, hands, and specs remain almost unchanged from its introduction.
When the Datejust was first released it was only available in yellow gold. In following years, Rolex introduced rose gold, steel, and two-toned one editions, known as Rolesor. In the 2000s, the flat and polish bezel became an alternative to the classic fluted bezel. The Datejust lineup offers a variety of sizes for men and women consisting of 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 46mm, and 41mm. Designed in a spectrum of metals, dials, textures, bracelets, and types of markers, the Rolex Datejust provides endless configurations.
Discover Important Models
Over the years, the Rolex Datejust collection has seen its fair share of changes and iterations, but the intrigue and collector-worthy status of these pieces has remained the same. Check out a variety of its most memorable models and references for recommendations on where to start looking for your next piece.
Perhaps one of the most noteworthy versions of the Datejust is the Turn-O-Graph ref. 1625 which launched in 1953. It features a gold Turn-O-Graph bezel which gives it a stopwatch functionality, and it was also awarded to U.S. Airforce pilots after returning from combat missions. If you’d like to see a modern version of this piece up close, watch this expert review of the Rolex Datejust ref. 116264.
Rolex Oysterquartz Datejust
This historic, rare model features a gorgeous faceted metal bracelet and a fluted gold bezel. It’s extraordinarily robust with the caliber 5035 ticking away inside, and it’s COSC Swiss Chronometer certified—a true feat for quartz watches. Learn more about this piece by reading this review of the ref. 17013.