Arguably the most important Rolex in history, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust is far greater than the sum of its parts

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust is perhaps the archetypal Rolex watch – elegant in an understated way, iconic by both design and function, a storied timepiece that’s steeped in history and heritage.

True aficionados will recognise it for its game-changing date complication and the great milestones it has reached in its long- standing history.

The Datejust was named for its automatically changing date window – the first of its kind for a wristwatch. When it debuted in the 1940s, this complication was groundbreaking. Since then, the Datejust has been making its mark on history.

Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 in Oystersteel and Everose gold features a slate dial and an Oyster bracelet

Steeped In History

The Datejust has come a long way since being conceived in 1945. The first
Datejust was created to mark Rolex’s 40th anniversary and pioneered the now-iconic Jubilee bracelet crafted specifically for the occasion. The momentous occasion was not lost on Rolex Founder Hans Wilsdorf, who said upon its launch, “This is a masterpiece of horological science. It is, in fact, a synthesis of all that has been achieved up to the present day.”

The Datejust also expresses harmonious elegance and perfectly embodies the classic watch according to Rolex. Its enduring aesthetics make it instantly recognisable. The characteristic shape of the Oyster case, the 18 ct gold fluted bezel, the Cyclops lens over the date and the five-piece link Jubilee bracelet all helped make this watch a classic. Although some variations were crafted through the years, the modern Datejust comes in 31 mm, 36 mm and 41 mm cases. Robust and reliable, the Oyster case is waterproof to depths of up to 100 metres.

Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 in Oystersteel features a bright blue dial and an Oyster bracelet

For sheer luxury and elegance, the Datejust captured the imagination of major figures. Seen on the wrists of major figures such as Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Martin Luther King, the Datejust has spanned eras without ever losing its modern touch. Symbolizing this ongoing connection with time, the Datejust’s window looks out onto the world.

A Revolutionary Icon

The Datejust was revolutionary from the get-go. Of course, the automatic date movement it pioneered is quintessential in analog watches today, but it has paved the way for new thinking in watchmaking. The Cyclops lens of the date window optimises legibility of the date.

Although not a feature in the original, it was introduced in 1953 as a plexiglass lens, but evolved to the highly effective anti- scratch, anti-reflective sapphire lens that we see in modern Datejust expressions.

Golden fluted motif dial, Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36

Another callback to Rolex’s earlier history is that the Datejust uses the signature Rolex alloy, Rolesor. An amalgam of gold and steel created in the early 1930s, it features exclusively in the Oyster Perpetual collection. The Rolesor is instantly identifiable. The bezel, the winding crown and the centre bracelet links are made of yellow or Everose gold, while the middle case and outer links of the bracelet are made of Oystersteel.

The Datejust has also taken advantage of Rolex proprietary technologies, such as the Twinlock winding crown and the completely waterproof Oyster case. These additions, while not new to Rolex, were ahead of its time during the introduction of the Datejust, and helped cement its reputation as a versatile luxury timepiece.

A Symphony In Two Movements

Powering the Datejust are two self-winding mechanical movements with the kind of immaculate engineering and performance that defines the Rolex brand. The 31 mm is fitted with the calibre 2236 movement, while the 36 mm and 41 mm expressions are powered by the calibre 3235. Both movements are Superlative Chronometer and Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) certified.

Calibre 2236

Rolex has achieved this by both engineering and design. The two movements have balance wheels with variable inertia regulated by gold Microstella nuts to maximise precision. The balance wheel is fastened to the barrel by a height-adjustable traversing bridge, which enables stable, secure positioning, resulting in increased shock resistance. The oscillator is also fitted with the Rolex proprietary Paraflex shock absorbers.

The calibre 2236 incorporates a Syloxi hairspring in silicon, which is manufactured by the brand and patented. It also uses a nickel- phosphorus paramagnetic escape wheel.

The calibre 3235, on the other hand, uses a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, another Rolex manufacture, and a Chronergy escapement, also made of a nickel-phosphorus alloy, which gives superior efficiency. Despite the differentiation in materials and architecture, these movements are designed to also be extremely resistant to strong magnetic fields.

Calibre 3235

The self-winding modules of both movements also house the Rolex Perpetual rotor, which continuously winds the mainspring by harnessing wrist and hand movements, providing constant energy. As a result, the calibre 2236 offers a power reserve of about 55 hours, while the calibre 3235 with its Chronergy escapement gives approximately 70 hours.

For Every Wrist

Part of the Datejust’s perpetual appeal is its versatility and variation, and its extensive customisation possibilities. There are enough individual adjustments for the timepiece to fit a collector’s personality and sense of style.

Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31, 18ct Everose gold

Take the large selection of dials, for example. Collectors can choose from a wide array of materials, colours, textures and motifs. These include dials set with diamonds or multiple other gems, dials in a sunray finish, dials made from mother-of-pearl, dials Reflecting the aspirations of the modern world, the Datejust has naturally become the watch of our dates with destiny. Day after day, its dial marks a meeting point between the personal course of each wearer and the passing of time.

But it’s these factors that make the Datejust far greater than the sum of its parts. It’s these factors that make it a legend.

(Images: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust)

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 Arguably the most important Rolex in history, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust is far greater than the sum of its parts. 

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