The history of Rolex Datejust

Rolex Datejust watches

The history of the Rolex Datejust

In 1945, to mark Rolex's 40th anniversary, the Rolex Datejust made its first appearance in the catalogue. Undergoing subtle changes over the years, it has retained the features that made it a success: date aperture with Cyclops lens, 31-41 mm diameter and metal strap. It is paired with either Oyster or Jubilee straps.

The 5-piece link Jubilee bracelet was specially created for the Rolex Datejust. This metal Jubilee strap can be made from steel, white gold, yellow gold or rose gold, dubbed Everose by Rolex.

The Rolex Datejust was the first self-winding water-resistant chronograph watch with date display. The Rolex Datejust is sought-after in the second-hand market by men and women alike. Some models can be set with diamonds.

Rolex Datejust style

But what is the secret of its success? The many different dial/bezel combinations are certainly a selling point. Few watches remain so unchanged over the course of their history. The Rolex Datejust is therefore a true icon.

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first American president to wear a Rolex wristwatch, sporting a Rolex Datejust. The Datejust is a Rolex staple, alongside the likes of the Submariner, the Explorer and the Oyster Precision.

Like all our watches, the Rolex Datejust watches offered at Collector Square have been assessed, authenticated, carefully examined and serviced by our watchmakers, with a one-year guarantee.

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THE DATEJUST, INNOVATIVE MECHANICS SIGNED BY ROLEX

From a mechanical point of view, since its launch the Datejust has been an innovative watch. It is the first watch that combines a watertight case, automatic movement, a date box and the precision of a chronometer. Quality assurances can be found, as a selling point, directly on the dial of the watch, below the Oyster Perpetual Datejust officially certified chronometer.

The term Oyster

Refers to the watertight sealing of the case, which is comparable to that of an oyster.

The term Perpetual

It means that the watch has a mechanical movement with automatic winding, it draws energy from continuous natural movements of the arm.

The term Datejust

It might seem self-evident if we do not put it in the context of the time. In 1945, mechanical watch-making was still in the early stages of the automatic era. Finding how to get enough movement energy to make the date change instantly every night at midnight on the dot was a challenge that we do not think about today. For the time, it was a real technical breakthrough, far more spectacular than a date window that started to turn at 10pm and finished moving at 2 o’clock in the morning. It was not until 1955 that the calibration allowing the instant jump from one day to the next was finalised and adopted by Rolex.

On the watch face, the words “officially certified chronometer” specifies that the quality of the watch chronometer is certified by an independent body, which depends on the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, called the COSC.

STYLISTIC CODES OF THE DATEJUST WATCH

From a stylistic point of view, there are four key points about the Datejust: its Cyclops crystal, its bracelet, its face and its bezel.

The date

Printed on a very small disc, to improve readability Rolex was quick to add a magnifying glass over the date window. This oversized eye has become a Rolex signature, dubbed by collectors as the Cyclops, a nickname later used by the manufacturer. It magnifies the actual size of the date by 2.5 times.

The Jubilee strap

Was launched in 1945 on the Datejust. This new strap composed of five-piece curved links was created as an alternative to the Oyster strap, with its flat three-piece links. On the second-hand market, it is not uncommon to find Datejust mounted on leather straps or on NATO fabrics. Its absence can bring a lower turnaround in the auction room.

The dial

Datejust’s major interest, compared to the rest of the Rolex collection, is the diversity of watch dials in existence and the rarity of some of them. This had always been the piece that Rolex dial-makers had the most freedom with making. Aficionados, always wanting to seize greater ownership of the brand, have christened several specific dials, which has made the price of the watches that have them increase. The linen dial appears to have been woven, the pie pan with its outer edges resembles a pie mould, the Buckley dial, white with Roman numerals in black paint, pays homage, not to the singer… but to the Rolex representative from the East Coast of the United States, John Buckley! The markings at 6 o’clock can also alter the price of a Datejust. If the word Swiss is flanked by two T, or better still by two O (sigma dial), the watch you have in your hands is a rarity! Generally speaking, the most frequently seen colour of dial at auction is silver (comprising 24% of auctioned Datejust watches), followed by black (18%). Rare colours are bringing in a good price at auction, which is why it is really important to verify that the dial is original.

The bezel

Finally, the many bezels available for the Datejust are a detail that is the most likely to alter the price of a second-hand Datejust. Fluted, smooth, bark, crenellated… so many variants that add to the charm of the model.

A common thread between celebrities, politicians, intellectuals and the public at large, the Datejust will always be a popular watch. Choosing it will not only bring you joy but also the knowledge that you have invested in something that will always have outstanding worth. Don’t the international correspondents always say that the Rolex is the most international currency there is?

THE PRICE OF THE SECOND-HAND DATEJUST ROLEX: A STORY OF REFERENCES

The Datejust is seen as a safe bet in the watch-making industry: as proof, its price has multiplied by 3.7 in 10 years, across all models! Each Datejust has its own unique characteristics, their value differs depending on their year of production, their material, their reference...

Datejust references with 4 digits

(the oldest references): have seen their worth increase by 2.6 times in 10 years. Among these references, the most common on the second-hand market is 1601. For a steel model, the price has risen 37% in 10 years. Another fact: if the watch is accompanied by its original box and papers, its value jumps immediately by 20%. Furthermore, if the watch is guaranteed, the price can be increased by about €500 for a Rolex. But rareness often also plays a part in the asking price! Of the 4 digit references, the Reference 4467 is the most rare. The first Datejust to come out, its price is spectacular, slightly above €14,000 in 2014.

5 digit references

(references called "quick date", which will take over from the 4 digit references): they have seen their worth increase twofold in 10 years. Of these, the reference 16030 is the most widespread.

6 digit references

(the most recent Datejust references): these are much rarer to find at auction as they are still available to purchase through the Rolex catalogue. Ref. 116203, for example, costs just over €4,000. Its original look and two-tone dial make it a most sought-after model by those who wish to stand out.

All the figures of this study emanate from the databases of LuxPrice-index© , who survey the results of more than 200 000 auctions from the main auction houses around the world across a 12 year span.

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