Rolex Datejust History
Rolex is considered one of the greatest watch designers of our time. With passion, innovation and a level of quality like no other, it’s easy to see why the brand has achieved its premium status today. Every Rolex watch tells a story, with many iconic designs that have evolved over the years.
The Rolex Datejust is one of the most popular watches ever made, as it embodies exquisite refinement with an expert design suitable for every wrist. This guide will explore the history of this iconic watch, from its introduction to its latest updates. Read on to learn more about Rolex’s best-loved timeless watches.
When was the Rolex Datejust introduced?
The Rolex Datejust was introduced in 1945 to mark the company’s 40th anniversary. This makes it one of the oldest lines of watches Rolex still produces today. The design of the Datejust was unique, as it showcased the first date display ever featured on a self-winding wristwatch that could automatically change over at midnight. Therefore, it set the standard for how this display should function.
The classic aesthetic of the Datejust made it a versatile and reliable wrist watch designed for everyday wear. It wasn’t designed for a specific sport or environment, meaning it could be worn for various activities and purposes. The first edition of the Rolex Datejust was the reference 4467 in solid 18k yellow gold. Today, the catalogue features many designs, colours and materials to cater to various requirements and tastes.
Evolution of the Rolex Datejust
In the 1950s, the Datejust range expanded to include stainless steel and Rolesor versions in the reference 5030 and 5031 watches, giving Rolex lovers more options. The ‘Datejust’ name also started to be printed on the dial, adding to the timepiece’s signature style. The designs introduced throughout this decade featured the iconic five-piece metal link Jubilee bracelet featured on the original 1945 version. This bracelet design has since become a permanent option on the Datejust, and other Rolex watch models ever since.
Later in the decade, the brand’s Caliber 1560 movement was introduced, bringing a new generation of watches in the reference 160x series. By this point, the appearance of the Datejust that we see today had been formed, with many of its distinctive features still present in the modern version of the Rolex Datejust. By keeping its classic design and standard features over the years, the Datejust has become one of the most iconic options in Rolex’s catalogue.
Rolex also launched the Lady Datejust in 1957, introducing a sleek, elegant timepiece suitable for women. This iconic watch has also evolved, with the petite 28mm version being introduced in 2015. Since then, it has continued to grow in popularity, with various metal and colour combinations to explore.
The Datejust’s design remained the same until the 1970s when the new Caliber 3035 movement and reference 160xx watch range was unveiled. It showcased an innovative ‘quickset’ date feature that enabled users to adjust the date display without adjusting the time. While it retained its distinctive 36mm case diameter, the updated watch showcased several subtle differences. One of these was the absence of the classic sloped dial, as it was replaced with a flatter surface that went on to be featured in the modern designs of Rolex watches.
In 1988, Rolex added another generation of watches to the Datejust catalogue – the reference 162xx, which featured an updated Caliber 3135 movement. While this movement was similar to its predecessor in terms of functionality and performance, it brought some slight improvements for better reliability and timekeeping. It also showcased a new and updated crystal made from scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire, which was upgraded from its original acrylic design. This crystal is now featured on many modern designs Rolex manufactures today.
The design of the Rolex Datejust remained consistent until 2009 when the Datejust II was released. The new reference 1163xx generation offered a larger 41mm version of the much-loved timepiece and the standard 36mm design, providing customers with a wider selection of options.
The aesthetic of the Datejust II was very similar to the original Datejust as this design remained extremely popular. The new design was fitted with Rolex’s Caliber 3136 movement, providing the new design with an advanced upgrade. The 41mm Datejust II was exclusively fitted with an Oyster bracelet, whereas the 36mm design was available with an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet.
After a few years, the Datejust II was discontinued. However, the 41mm version was relaunched in 2016 under Datejust 41. The new and improved design featured a new movement and several subtle aesthetic revisions. While the Datejust II features a bulkier design with a thicker bezel and lugs and larger hour markers, the Datejust 41 is often seen as an enlarged version of the original Datejust, as it keeps its elegant and graceful appearance. There are also various differences between the two timepieces mechanically, as the Datejust II features a Caliber 3136 movement, while the updated Datejust 41 operates with a Caliber 3235 movement. The Datejust 41 remains in production alongside the 28mm and 36mm versions in various metal and colour combinations.
At Miltons Diamonds, we pride ourselves on providing our customers with an extensive range of preloved Rolex Watches. We offer an exquisite selection of Rolex Datejust watches for you to choose from. Explore our collection today to learn more about this iconic timepiece and choose a design to suit your taste.