Home > Luxury Watches > The History of Rolex’s most iconic Timepiece: The Datejust

The History of Rolex’s most iconic Timepiece: The Datejust

By Martha Yoon


Updated on

Whether you’re a fan of Rolex or not, there’s no denying that it is one of the world’s most recognizable luxury brands. Part of its success lies in Rolex’s commitment to honoring the style of their core models as well as brilliant marketing techniques.  

One of the most recognizable, and arguably most sought-after, models in the brand’s catalog is the Oyster Perpetual Datejust.

How the Datejust Came to Be

The Rolex brand was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and his brother-in-law Alfred Davis under the name Wilsdorf & Davis.  It wasn’t until 1908 that they changed their company name to Rolex, a name that was chosen because it was believed that it would be easy to pronounce, no matter what language one spoke.  Shortly after, operations were moved to Switzerland, where the company resides to this day.

In 1926, Rolex developed their first waterproof case, aptly named the Oyster Case.  It featured a seal that kept moisture and dust particles out and allowed the wearer to take their watch with them almost anywhere without fear of damaging the movement within.  Today, the Oyster case boasts varying degrees of waterproofness from 100 to 3,900 meters, depending on the model. The Datejust opts for a depth rating of up to 100 meters, which is just enough to protect the movement within during moderate activity.

A few years later, in 1931, the Rolex Perpetual movement was invented.  The concept behind the Perpetual movement was that it wound itself using the movement of the wearer’s wrist.  If worn regularly, any timepiece that utilizes a Perpetual movement should not need to be wound daily to keep perfect time.  In 1945, a date complication was added to the Perpetual movement and the Datejust as we know it today was born.

Rolex Datejust

The Datejust Makes its Debut

1945 marked the 40th anniversary of the Rolex brand.  During their Jubilee celebration, Rolex unveiled the Datejust watch via the yellow gold reference 4467.  A truly innovative timepiece, the Datejust was the first watch to offer a date display that changed automatically.  It also utilized two additional pioneering features of the Rolex brand, the waterproof Oyster case and the Perpetual movement.

The Datejust also debuted on a Jubilee bracelet, which is characterized by five-piece links and has since become a staple of the Rolex catalog.  It’s also important to note that many of the models that the brand produces today feature the automatically changing date display on their dial, making the Datejust an integral piece of the brand’s history.

Finally, in 1954, a Cyclops magnifier was added to the crystal over the date, enlarging it 2.5x and making it easier to read at-a-glance.  Today, almost every Datejust that the brand produces includes the Cyclops lens over the date.

Many changes have been made to the line in the seven decades since the Datejust came to market, including multiple movement upgrades, the introduction of a stainless steel and two-tone variant, various upgrades to the luminous material used on the dial, and the addition of a handful of bezel and bracelet options, just to name a few.  If you’re considering adding one to your collection, new or pre-owned, there are multiple options to choose from that will suit your style and budget.

Rolex Datejust 2

The Best Place to Buy or Sell a Datejust

If you’ve made the decision to add the iconic Datejust to your watch collection, a smart move is to consider purchasing a pre-owned Rolex.  While buying a Rolex at retail has its benefits, such as being able to buy one that is unworn and assuring that they are genuine, they often depreciate in value shortly after purchasing them.

If you go through a well-respected pre-owned Rolex seller, such as Bob’s Watches who is willing to guarantee the authenticity of the watch, you can rest assured that you’re making a smart investment move.  Bob’s Watches is also an excellent way to sell your Rolex online as they are prepared to offer a fair price while making the entire process easy, even going as far as to pay shipping to send the watch to them for inspection and offering same-day wire transfers.

The Datejust isn’t the only timepiece in the Rolex catalog with a fascinating history.  Check out the story behind the Cosmograph Daytona in this short clip produced by Bob’s Watches.


Avatar photo
About Martha Yoon

Martha has been working as a full time content writer and social media editor for Luxatic for a very long time now, overseeing some of the other websites under our umbrella as well. She covers the lifestyle content that you see here and also on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Leave a Comment