The Rolex DateJust is one of Rolex’s most popular models. Going back to its initial development in 1943 deep in the depths of World War II, Rolex looked to make its venerable bubbleback a larger wristwatch. Ultimately introduced in 1945 on Rolex’s 40th birthday, the watch was called the DateJust and the first model was the Jubilee in reference to Rolex’s birthday but the Jubilee moniker later referred to the multi-linked bracelet.
The Rolex DateJust utilized a new caliber 740 and had the world’s first automatic date mechanism in a wristwatch. Called the DateJust because, well, Date is obvious, but “Just” stands for “just in time,” advancing precisely at midnight without delay. The date window was located on the right edge at 3:00 o’clock because most wearers have their watch on their left arm and the date window can easily peak out from under a shirtsleeve. The original DateJust also possessed a central second hand, moving from the subsidiary second hand that was the style at the time. To make reading the date easier, Rolex added the now trademark cyclops date window, because as lore has it, Hans Wilsdorf’s wife could not read the date easily.
One of the great things about the DateJust is that it feels at home at in a boardroom as out in the wild. Utilizing Rolex’s patented Oyster case and Twinlock winding crown, the DateJust is pressure proof to 100M/330ft and as durable as any of Rolex sports and professional watches. Many dress watches are not designed to go underwater, or be able to withstand knocks, but the Rolex DateJust’s case, crown, choice of Jubilee or Oyster band, and movement design is the same as found in the Rolex GMT. Reading the time on a DateJust at night is much easier than other dress watches because both the hands and hour indices are coated in Luminova and now Chromalight.
As another plain example of Rolex’s design ethos of evolution rather than revolution, the Rolex DateJust has evolved over the years, but a 1945 DateJust will not look that much different than a 2015 version. Since 1945, Rolex utilized the DateJust profile to introduce the Rolex President, a wristwatch that tracks both day and date, and like the DateJust, both the day and date change precisely at midnight. Over the years, Rolex starting offering Rolesor, a mix of stainless steel and yellow gold, as well as differing dials and watch faces.
Like the early Rolex DateJusts, the modern DateJust possesses the durability and ruggedness as Rolex’s sports and professional watches. The modern DateJust is available in either a 36mm case, or the DateJust II in a 41mm case. Utilizing the same movement as the Rolex dive watches, the 3135/3136 movement utilizes a Parachrom hairspring with Breguet overcoil, along with a monobloc Oyster case made of 904L stainless (like the dive watches), and since the late 1980’s –a synthetic sapphire crystal. The DateJust II uses the same Parallax shock absorbing system on the Rolex balance wheel as the modern day Explorer, Explorer II and President models. The DateJust also possesses the Rolex Oyster bracelet made of solid 904L stainless steel links and milled Oyster lock clasp.
Functionality, style, design, and durability are what make the Rolex DateJust one of the most recognized wristwatches in the world. With progressive updates and modern day features, the Rolex DateJust will certainly be with us for at least another 70 years. Come by Fourtané and see both early and modern day DateJust models. Both the vintage and modern day Rolex DateJust are a wonder to behold.
– Sheldon Smith