Rolex launched the Datejust in 1945 to celebrate their fortieth anniversary and since then has gone from strength to strength. Originally the Datejust was a dainty 36mm and only available in yellow gold, with a jubilee bracelet and fluted bezel. Times have changed since the 1940s and the Datejust has changed mildly with the times. The watch is now available in multiple sizes and metals with the sportier oyster bracelet now offered and the more discreet polished bezel. Much like most Rolex models the Datejust evolved over decades rather than massive revolutions of its design. It was always the understated sports watch with dress watch sensibilities.
The claim to fame of the Datejust, at least to begin with, was how it got its name. The Datejust was the first wristwatch to feature a self-changing date and one of the first to have an instantaneously changing date at midnight. Since then they have also added the cyclops lens to make reading the date even easier. Those changes in terms of technology were achieved by 1955 and since then apart from the occasional change of calibre the Datejust remained basically the same.
The commitment to continuity did see the Datejust become a very recognisable watch. It’s renown helped by frequently being seen in film, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, Bob Harris in Lost in Translation and Jack Carter in Get Carter all wore one to name just a few. The renown of the Rolex as a brand and the Datejust in particular was boosted by the watch being seen on the wrist of some of the most influential people of the 20th century. Winston Churchill, Dwight D Eisenhower and Martin Luther King Jr were all Datejust wearers. Churchill was even gifted his personally by the founder of Rolex to celebrate the 100,000th officially certified chronometer.
The watch has continually seen itself on the wrist of the powerful at pivotal times of history. The 46th president of the USA has been seen wearing his Datejust frequently. Starting at his inauguration where Joe Biden wore his 41mm stainless Datejust featuring a smooth bezel, jubilee bracelet and blue dial he has since been seen wearing it regularly. Biden has gone for a contemporary example of the Datejust in the larger model.
Released in 2016 to much fanfare the Datejust 41 was Rolex’s response to the trend of larger watches. By bumping up the size and changing the movement Rolex was able to create a Datejust that feels worlds apart from its 36mm counterpart. The 36mm is a modestly sized pseudo dress watch whereas the 41mm has a much more commanding presence on the wrist and leans into the sporting look more. The 41mm is available in steel, white gold, yellow gold and rose gold with a fluted and smooth bezel option. Currently there is no solid gold option and you can only get a fluted bezel in one of the two tone options. You can go for either an oyster or jubilee bracelet and the modern jubilee bracelets feel far sturdier than vintage examples thanks to solid mid and end links.
Rolex always acts with a certain amount of trepidation when it comes to changing the formula. You can see this by looking at how little their main lines have changed since release. A contemporary submariner and a vintage submariner look remarkably similar to each other. The main difference being the small details such as crown guards and the lines of text on the dial. So to see Rolex embrace the larger watch trend shows their confidence that larger watches are here to stay making the 41mm potentially a future classic.
At time of writing, we currently have a 41mm yellow gold example with a fluted bezel and jubilee bracelet. The watch is unworn and still has its protective cover over the bezel. This is a great opportunity to pick up a new Datejust as waiting lists have surpassed five years at official ADs. If you are interested in the watch please get in contact with us.