There are two main contenders for the title of ‘most recognisable watch in the world’, both of them made by Rolex. Naturally, the Submariner has a good shot at the title, but for me, the clear winner is the Datejust. First introduced in 1945, it includes one of the most useful and ubiquitous complications – a date window. Like many features we take for granted on a watch today, this date represented a Rolex first, in that rather than slowly transitioning over a few hours, the Datejust’s date jumped instantly at the stroke of midnight.
Even though the model has been around for over 60 years now, the fundamentals haven’t changed much. Three hands, Oyster case, automatic movement and of course the date (with Cyclops). We saw its first leap to the 40mm+ club in 2009, with the bulked up, 41mm Datejust II. But it wasn’t just the diameter of this watch that had increased, it was broader all over: bezel, indices and lugs all felt super-sized. And while the masculine look had its fans, it lacked the elegant proportions of the classic version.
Enter this year’s Datejust 41, released at Baselworld in a swathe of yellow and Everose Rolesor models, with options including fluted and polished bezels, numerous dials and either the classic Oyster or the new and oh-so-comfortable Jubilee bracelet. The improvements extend beyond the case too. The DJ 41 is powered by the new Calibre 3235, which meets Rolex’s stringent new +2/-2 Superlative Chronometer standard, while the movement also features the new Chronergy escapement and is good for an impressive 70 hours of power reserve. Along with the (very similar) Calibre 3255 found in the Day-Date 40, this is the finest modern Rolex movement.
Of course, the fact the Datejust is such an enduring design means it has achieved an impressively universal status – nigh on anyone can wear this watch and look great. Case in point is this steel and Everose example. With its chocolate dial and diamond hour markers, this rich Rolex is would make quite the statement on a woman’s wrist (as opposed to the more typical Lady-Datejust, for example), and would also be quite at home on a man who isn’t afraid of a little sparkle on his wrist.