An introduction to the history and identification of the Rolex Datejust and its different models, from the vintage Jubilee Datejust to the modern Datejust 41 and the classic Lady’s Datejust.
An introduction to the Rolex Datejust
The Rolex Datejust is a true classic. The Datejust is wound throughout Rolex’s history as they created a watch that has evolved with the Rolex brand to become one of their core models.
First launched in the mid-1940s to celebrate Rolex’s 40th anniversary, the Rolex Perpetual Datejust was the first self-winding wristwatch to show a date that changed automatically at midnight. While this might seem normal by today’s standards, it was Rolex’s Datejust that created the benchmark for what we now perceive as normal with its date shown at the 3o’clock position and the iconic Jubilee bracelet.
The Datejust and Lady’s Datejust have gone on to be available with a range of bracelets throughout the years, including the incredibly popular steel and gold ‘bi-colour’ bracelets. The bezel, face, hands, movements and popularity have all improved over the years, but the core of the Datejust remains the same; a beautifully simple, luxury timepiece for everyday wear.
Like all Rolex watches, vintage Datejust Chronomters are valued by collectors, especially some of the more unusual configurations. Please get in contact for a free valuation if you are interested in selling your vintage Rolex Datejust.
The Datejust 4467
Rolex 4467 the Jubilee Datejust
The first version of the Jubilee Datejust was made available to the public by ballot. Numbered 1 to 100 with personalised engraving on the back of the case. These are the watches that would set the standard that went on to influence Rolex’s core style for the next 80 years. They also introduced the Jubilee bracelet, which would eventually become one of the most iconic and sought-after Rolex bracelets when the bi-colour style was introduced in the early 60s.
The evolution of the Datejust: 16000 and 16200 models
By the 50s the Datejust name was proudly emblazoned across the face and the watch had settled into the style that is largely recognisable as the modern Datejust – at least from the outside. Rolex’s signature development style of refine and perfect gradually is evident in the progression of the 16000 models as the movement was refined and improved and ‘quick-set’ was introduced.
In 1962 model 16013 was introduced after Rolex realised that the stainless-steel bracelets were selling much more successfully than the gold versions. The distinctive bi-colour gold and steel bracelets of the 16013 allowed Rolex to produce a product that bridged the large price difference between the steel and gold bracelets. The bi-colour bracelet has gone on to become their most popular bracelet thanks to the balance of price and statement bling.
The 16200 series had a new movement to accompany its re-numbering but the most significant change was the introduction of the synthetic sapphire crystal face. The sapphire crystal was a major improvement as it dramatically reduced general wear and tear compared to the old acrylic crystal.
The Datejust 116900
The Datejust II and Datejust 41
The next significant change to the Datejust didn’t come until 2009 when it was updated to the short-lived Datejust II. The Datejust II was a hefty 41mm design to meet with the supposed desire for larger watches. However, the Datejust II it was not an immediate hit and was withdrawn within a couple of years. In 2016 the Datejust II was essentially relaunched as the Datejust 41 and continues to be available.
The Lady’s Datejust 69178
The Lady’s Datejust was introduced in the late 1950s, combining the ethos and elegance of the Datejust into a delicate 26mm case. Available in an almost infinite combination of face, hand and hour marker styles, as well as the different bracelet styles, materials and options for precious gems, the Lady Datejust is a feminine classic. More modern versions of the Lady Datejust were introduced with 28mm and 31mm cases, mirroring the similar increases seen in the standard models.
Other than the size differences the same general advancements were introduced to the ladies watches over the years as the standard models. Ladies watches do not tend to achieve the same interest from collectors as the standard lines and models, however they are still a popular entry level watch into the vintage market and therefore can remain commercial.
Rolex Datejust models continue to pique the interest of collectors, especially the rarer combinations or models that were only available for a short amount of time. As with most vintage watches, the older models tend to produce the most interest from collectors.
If you would like a free valuation or complimentary sales advice on your Rolex Datejust please get in touch by emailing [email protected], or alternatively use the form below.