The Rolex Datejust

History of the Rolex Datejust

Rolex DateJust 41mm Chocolate DialRolex first debuted the iconic Datejust model in 1945 to celebrate their 40th Anniversary. Though a date  feature is common in modern watches, the Datejust was the world’s first self-winding, water-resistant timepiece to display a date window that adjusts every night at midnight. Unlike other Rolex models, the Datejust was not designed for any specific occupation or recreational activity. Instead, it was created to be an everyday wristwatch with an elegant design.

The first release of the Datejust model was Reference 4467 and was only available in 18K yellow gold. Along with the new model, the first Datejust featured the Jubilee bracelet, a five-piece link with soft flexibility. The dials were 36mm in diameter making it a gender neutral accent timepiece. The inner mechanism (Caliper 710) that fueled this new duel action was fairly large so Rolex had to create a domed back to the case.

Rolex created a new model in the late 1954 with an upgraded mechanism – caliper 1560. The new Datejust was available in stainless steel (Reference 5030) and two-tone (Reference 5031). In addition, the new timepieces actually printed “Datejust” on the dial. Rather than a flat profile, the crystal now had a cyclops lens to help magnify the date by two and a half times.  

In 1955 Rolex made a special edition Datejust called the “Turn-o-graph). The United States Air Force loved the model and began to use them as rewards for troops returning home from missions. Collectors refer to these timepieces as the Thunderbird” because they have the rotating Turn-o-Graph bezel.

Rolex made a technical breakthrough in 1957 with the Caliper 1065 movement which was smaller in size. This allowed Rolex to eliminate the domed back for a more streamlined design. During this time Rolex also introduced a ladies collection which was smaller in size.

The next update to the Datejust was during the late 1970swhen Rolex launched their new Caliper 3035. These models (Reference 160XX) sported a “quickset” date feature so that wearers could adjust the date display independently from the time hands. The new caliper also boosted the beats per hour from 20,000 to 28,000 which improved the accuracy of its timekeeping. Of this Reference series, the most common timepiece was Reference 16013 two tone “Rolesor” with Rolex’s fluted bezel. This new generation no longer had the cyclops lens but rather a flat crystal composed of acrylic. Also during the 70’s Rolex launched the quartz movement with the Datejust OysterQuartz, Reference 17000).

In 1988 Rolex aired a new Datejust model (Reference 162XX) which incorporated their improved Caliper 3135 movement. Though the design of these timepieces stayed the dame, the new inner mechanism kept more precise, reliable time. At this time, Rolex switched from making the lens’ in acrylic and began producing them in crystal sapphire, which is a more durable scratch-resistant surface.

In 2009, Rolex came out with the Datejust II model (1163XX) sported a larger case (a 41mm diameter) the new Caliper 3136 mechanism, and was fitted with an Oyster bracelet. Additionally, the Datejust II contained the brand’s Twinlock Winding Crown which increased its ability to withstand water depths to 100 meters (330 feet). The new and improved Caliper 3136 had a Parachrom hairspring, Paraflex shock absorbers and COSC certification. Though large watches are popular in today’s market, the Datejust II model did not do well on the market so Rolex ceased the collection.

In 2016 Rolex retired the Datejust II and released the 41mm cased Datejust with the Datejust 41 model. The Datejust 41 contains the latest Caliper 3235 internal mechanism with newly patented parts and a Superlative Chronometer certification. In addition to the variation in sizes, Rolex has great variety to the Datejust luxury timepieces by creating an array of dials, bezels and bracelet options.

Celebrities Wearing the Rolex Datejust

  • Daniel Craig
  • David Beckham
  • Jennifer Anniston
  • Bono
  • Roger Federer
  • Aaron Paul
  • Martin Luther King
  • Eva Longoria
  • Tom Crui