In the extensive collection of Rolex watches, if the Submariner is the captain of the sporty side of the family, then the Datejust is the head of the refined side of the family. And from that more cultured side, we’re going to focus on the most grand member, the Datejust 41.
Join us as we review the legacy and pedigree of the Rolex Datejust 41, the classic watch of reference.
Like many of Rolex’s modern watch offerings, the Datejust began its life as an Oyster Perpetual. In 1945, as part of their 40th anniversary celebration, Rolex introduced the world’s first watch that could automatically change dates at midnight, the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, Ref. 4467. The name Datejust referring to the date always being just, or true.
At the time, it was only available in 18k gold, a stark difference in material from the more practical predecessors to the Submariner and Air-King. The Datejust was also the first Rolex to wear the Jubilee bracelet, another homage to the watchmaker’s 40 years in business. The Datejust was also not made for a particular purpose, like diving or flying. It was simply meant to be an elegant and reliable everyday watch, but it was timeless - and you can find out more about why here.
The 1950s saw the introduction of the magnifying cyclops lens over the date window as well as the option for an Oystersteel case or an Oystersteel and yellow gold case, a combination which Rolex named Rolesor, which they still use today.
A quickset date function, added in 1972, allowed the wearer to independently change the date without having to also move the hands. Later that decade, the opulent fluted bezel was introduced. And around the same time, Rolex experimented with a quartz movement in their Datejust OysterQuartz, Ref. 17000. The OysterQuartz was not popular at the time, but now these curious watches fetch thousands of dollars from collectors. The same goes for many of the other vintage Datejust models, the oldest of which are unserviceable and lacking replacement parts, even by Rolex themselves. Rolex does still suggest servicing your Rolexes if possible. You can find out how often you need to service your Rolex here.
More reliable movements and durable sapphire crystals replaced obsolete features in the 1980s, and in 2009 Rolex gave us the Datejust 2, a larger version of the Datejust measuring at a more contemporary 41mm. For decades, the Datejust measured at a slimmer 36mm. The Datejust 2, being 5mm wider, was too large for the Jubilee bracelet, so it was only offered with an Oyster bracelet. The Datejust 2 never really took off with consumers, so the larger watch was retired after just a few short years.
In 2016 after some retooling, Rolex reintroduced the larger Datejust as the Datejust 41, the watch we know today. To appeal to a public demanding more customization than ever before, the Datejust 41 and its sibling Datejust models are offered in more design combinations than any other Rolex watch.
Case & Crystal
The 41 in Datejust 41 refers to its case size, 41mm. All Datejust 41 cases are carved out of a single piece of Oystersteel, known as a monobloc, giving it unparalleled stability.
The lab-grown sapphire crystal is highly scratch-resistant and features a cyclops lens over the date for magnified viewing. Although not technically a dive watch, the Datejust 41 is rated waterproof like all oyster cases as we previously discussed here. The Rolex Datejust 41 has a depth of 100 meters, or 330 feet.
Crown & Pushers
Rolex’s trademark embossed crown sits atop the Ref. 126333’s screw-down crown, which houses their Twinlock double waterproofing system, a version of which has been in service since 1953.
The 41 wears either a smooth or fluted bezel, comprised of Oystersteel or gold. Our fluted version is made of 18k yellow gold. Dozens of highly polished grooves reflect light, giving the watch many more surfaces from which to bounce light, compared with a smooth bezel. The same technique is used in gem cutting, and is one of the ways precious gems achieve their luster.
When choosing jewelry, having a plethora of choices is essential in meeting the demands of various tastes. The Datejust 41 is no exception. No fewer than eight dial options are available for this lavish timepiece. From black, silver, champagne, and mother of pearl faces to stick and even diamond-set markers, the 41 is an exercise in indulgence.
Our Ref. 126333 features arguably the most unique dial option. A slate gray backing sits behind yellow gold hands and hour markers. The Ref. 126333 also features the only Roman numeral hour markers offered, whose large black centers are outlined in a spirited green.
All of the Datejusts utilize Rolex’s Chromalight material for low light viewing.
Encased within the 41’s swanky exterior is a marvel of modern movement mechanics. The Caliber 3235 movement, made in-house by Rolex, was first introduced in 2015. This superlative chronometer with instantaneous date changes maintains time accuracy to within two seconds a day thanks to its Chronergy escapement comprised of nickel phosphorus, an anti-magnetic alloy.
A paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and large barrel give the Caliber 3235 a 70 hour power reserve. Ever improving on their already extraordinary stability, Rolex added advanced Paraflex shock absorbers to hold the jewels in place over time.
The Jubilee bracelet has been around nearly 75 years, first seen on the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust in 1945. Nowadays, the Jubilee bracelet is made of Oystersteel, with our Ref. 126333 Datejust 41 showcasing 18k gold down the three smaller center links. This Rolesor Jubilee bracelet, like the fluted gold bezel, adds numerous more light-reflecting surfaces to the watch, compared to the standard Rolesor Oyster bracelet also available on the 41.
Not only does the Jubilee bracelet add elegance, but also comfort, thanks to its numerous flexing links and Oysterclasp with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link. If you want to understand more about Rolex bracelets, we previously touched on that topic.
An icon of elegance in timepiece design after almost three quarters of a century, the Rolex Datejust, including our Datejust 41, is the standard of tailor-made high watch fashion. But don’t let its looks deceive you. Below the polished exterior is a high tech heart that beats as reliably as the rising sun, and is just as bright on the outside.
We are hard at work developing replacement straps for the Datejust 41. Keep your eyes out for updates on those. For now, you can find our replacement straps for your 5-digit reference and 6-digit reference Datejust models.
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