Today we’re taking a look at one of the most iconic and enduring member of the Rolex family. Instantly recognisable and older than the house’s famous Submariner, the Datejust has been alive and ticking for 72 years. Still as popular and relevant today as the day it was born, it is one of the most versatile easy to wear watches that you can own. I have so often heard form collectors that their first Rolex was a Datejust – it’s an icon! Dressed up or down, the DJ is the jewel in the crown…
The Jewel in the Crown – the classic Rolex Datejust
The Datejust is housed in arguably the most important watch case designs in the history of horology – the Oyster case. Hermetically sealed, thanks to the screw down winding crown, screw case back and pressure fit crystal, the Oyster case set a new standard in wearable and durable wrist watches. The first Oyster cases came in the form of the monoblocco (bezel and midcase are made from one piece) ‘Bubbleback’ watches, which were very popular time only watches. Ever the innovator, in 1945 Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf added a date aperture to his now famous Oyster watch in the guise of the Datejust reference 4467. This was a first for a wristwatch and it was an instant hit.
3 x early Waffle Dial Rolex Datejust Ref. 6305
A very rare early Black Waffle Dial Rolex Datejust Ref. 6305
See the rare double red Datejust print
Rolex Datejust Ref. 6305 with Non-Lume Waffle Dial
Rolex Datejust Ref. 6605 with Roulette Date wheel and applied logo
Just Change – Innovation 1
The Datejust was an important watch in that it pioneered a number of ‘firsts’ for Rolex and the industry in general. The most subtle feature of the Datejust was actually a technological masterpiece – the instant date change. The date clicks over ‘just’ on midnight. Though a clever spring mechanism, the date change occurred in an instant. This was technology that was not even used in watches made by other brands in the early 70s (anybody seen the slow date change on ETA movements from the 70s?). This wasn’t a cheap option however and coupled with the fact that the first Datejusts were in 18ct gold cases, it was an expensive watch to buy.
Three of a Kind – different black dials
Just Magnified –Innovation 2
One of the most striking aspects of a Datejust is the date magnifying bubble, named by Rolex as the Cyclops. In fact, for the first nine years of the Datejust’s life, it was sans cyclops as the technology was not available to include it on the early pressure fit crystals. In some ways it seems logical, as the plastic glasses were doed and it would have been impossible to attached the date bubble without distorting the date reading. It was only this year that we officially discovered that this had been the reason that Rolex had never included a cyclops on the Seadweller dive watch. The inclusion of the date bubble compromised the depth rating of the crystal and it wasn’t until the latest incarnation that they could include. And so in 1954 the Cyclops was introduced for the first time on the Datejust and it’s been there ever since!
The amazing details of a Waffle Dial and the Cyclops effect
Just Jubilee – Innovation 3
There are two bracelets avaibale for a Rolex watch (post the Gay Freres era) that are ‘so Rolex’ that they look like imposters when seen on other watches. The Oyster and Jubilee bracelets are interchangeable on most vintage (and modern) models, but the Jubilee was first offered on the Datejust. The Datejust was launched to celebrate the 40 years anniversary of Rolex and it was at this point that hey also launched the jubilee bracelet in 18ct gold.
The Jubilee Option
Over its many versions and incarnations of the past 72 years, the Datejust (or DJ as collectors term it) has been made in almost countless variations and styles. The classic proportions of its 36mm case, automatic movement, easy to read dial layout and waterproof case make it probably the most sold watch of all time. Whether you want one in all steel, two tone or gold (yellow, white or rose) there is a Datejust for you. Clean, simple dial? Yes. Precious stone and diamonds? Yes tropical gilt dial form the 1950s? Yes (if you can find one). This makes collecting Datejust so interesting. But it has to be perfect. There are literally millions of these watches available around the world and so collectors are focused on acquiring only the very best examples with unpolished cases and dials in perfect condition. It is, financially, still a relatively accessible watch – but for how long?
Suede NATO on 18t Gold DJ? Why not!
The Rosegold – Steel combination really makes it pop
Collectors love rare dial variants like this so-called ‘Tiger Eye’
Sigma Dials – these dials have the sigma symbol at the bottom to represent white gold hour markers
Some rare dial versions like this Black Marble Style Dial. With a very cool structure when hitting the sunlight.
One of our favorite dial versions. The Wide Body Dial.
The DJ is without doubt one of the coolest watches you can have in your collection. As a style-led investment you can’t go far wrong because this really is the watch that you can wear for all occasions; high days or holidays, the Datejust has you covered. On its original bracelet it will serve you well seamlessly segues between formal attire and beach wear. But there can be a whole new level of style mixes when you begin to experiment with different straps.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Here we want to share with you some classic looks from our various campaigns over the years and finally showcase our new Scandinavian Collection…
Leather buckle straps
Leather nato straps
Nylon Nato straps
Many thanks to Donny_Bay for providing the breath taking double red and the black waffle dialed Datejust for this article.