Rolex DateJust Watches
A truly iconic collection, Rolex DateJust watches helped the brand cement its credibility as a pioneering watchmaker. Dubbed the archetype of the modern watch, has been a staple in the firm’s catalogue since its release and is beloved by people from all walks of life – including world leaders, sports stars and entertainers.
The History of Rolex DateJust Watches
First introduced in 1945, Rolex DateJust watches were released to commemorate the company’s 40th anniversary. The collection is one of the brand’s oldest series that is still in production today. Ever the innovator, the watches became the first automatic timepieces with a date function that would automatically change over at midnight. It was also the first watch to boast the Jubilee bracelet. Unlike many of the brand’s iconic watch lines, The DateJust was not specifically designed or intended for one particular lifestyle activity. Instead, it is simply a reliable and classic wristwatch that is designed to be worn every day.
Rolex DateJust watches made their first appearance with the Reference 4467 and was initially only available in solid 18 karat gold. This remained the case until the 1950s, when the first stainless steel and Rolesor (two tone) variations became available, with the release of the References 5030 and 5031. The name of the watch actually started to appear on the dial around this time as well.
In 1955, Rolex released a special version of the model that featured a rotating Turn-O-Graph bezel, which gave the watch its name. Soon after its introduction, the timepiece was chosen by a US Air Force Thunderbird pilot on combat missions. Never one to pass up on a marketing opportunity, the brand provided examples of the watch as a reward to pilots for completing combat missions, and even placed the aerobatics team’s insignia on its dial. As a result, this timepiece became affectionately known as the Thunderbird. The DateJust Turn-O-Graph would go through several different iterations until it was discontinued in 2011.
By the end of the 1950s, Rolex DateJust watches were upgraded to the calibre 1065, which allowed the case to become flat as opposed to the traditional bubbleback versions. The bezel on these iterations also changed to the now-recognisable fluted style, which remains a defining element of the DateJust today. The next considerable update to the collection would take place in the 1970s, when the brand’s self-made calibre 3035. This movement featured the all-new quick-set feature, which enabled the date to be set forwards or backwards independent of the centre hour hands. The movement was changed again in the 1980s, with the release of the calibre 3135. It boasted a new sapphire crystal that made it far superior in resistance to scratches, and allowed for a slightly slimmer design.
Nearly 65 years after the first Rolex DateJust watches were released, the brand unveiled the DateJust II. The design was much sportier and larger than the original, coming in at 41mm. It also debuted several new features, such as the brand’s Twinlock winding crown which helped it become water resistant to 100 metres. In addition, it housed the calibre 3136 movement that gave it COSC classification, The DateJust II was discontinued in 2016 and in its place came the DateJust 41, a 41mm version of the classic iteration. The biggest difference between the DateJust II and DateJust 41 was again the calibre, which this time features fourteen patented parts and Superlative Chronometer certification.
On the Wrists of Leaders
Rolex watches have an esteemed history with some of the world’s most powerful people, and Rolex DateJust watches are no exception. Former US President Dwight D Eisenhower wore an 18 karat Reference 6305, which you can actually see on display on the cover of Life Magazine from 21st July 1952. Eisenhower was the first US leader to ever wear a timepiece made by the Swiss manufacturer, receiving it as a gift from the company to commemorate his efforts in World War II and to mark the occasion of Rolex’s 150,000th chronometer.
The model worn by Eisenhower himself was specially customised for him. It featured his initials (DDE) engraved on the case back, alongside the date (19/12/1950) and five stars that symbolised his rank as a five-star general in the American army. His initials also appeared on the bracelet’s clasp.
This was not the only time that Rolex had given DateJust timepieces to world leaders. To mark their 50,000th chronometer, the company presented a watch to then-UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The first Chancellor of West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, was also given a timepiece by Hans Wilsdorf himself.
A Versatile Icon
First released to commemorate a company milestone, Rolex DateJust watches hold a spot in even the most exclusive of collections and remains one of the most popular timepieces for men and women alike. They are highly recognisable, with some models such as the DateJust 36 and DateJust 41 arguably becoming the backbone of Rolex’s entire catalogue.
Incredibly versatile, Rolex DateJust watches are available in a wide variety of metal combinations. The line also boasts the most dial, bezel and bracelet options than any other collection. This practically guarantees that there is a perfect version for just about any wrist size and aesthetic preference.