Rolex Datejust: A Classic for Every Day

Rolex Datejust Leonard Joel watches

The Rolex Datejust was launched in 1945 to celebrate the watchmaker’s 40th anniversary. A true innovation, it was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer wristwatch and featured a revolutionary calendar design, displaying the date in a small window at 3 o’clock on the dial. Previously, watches had indicated the date by a hand pointing to markings around the edge of the face. A separate window was visually cleaner and easier to read, and it quickly became the standard date display on watches.

Whilst maintaining a classic and distinct shape, the Datejust has undergone several refinements over the years. The first example had an acrylic crystal face which could easily scratch, so in later years was replaced with a more durable sapphire crystal face. In 1953, Rolex added the distinctive cyclops lens over the date window to provide 2.5x magnification.

It was originally released with the Jubilee bracelet, but today is available with the option of the Oyster bracelet instead, as well as offering many other design choices; gold, two tone gold, or stainless steel, and with sizes including 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm and 41mm. With so many variations available, there is a Datejust for everyone, and it remains one of the brand’s most popular models.

TROY MCKENZIE / Queensland Representative Specialist

Pictured: Rolex Datejust Ref 116244, A stainless steel and diamond-set wrist watch with date and bracelet, circa 2017, estimate: $6,000-9,000, March Fine Jewels & Timepieces Auction, Consigned in Brisbane