Over the last 10 years my taste in watches has changed. I still love the watches I desired a decade ago, but as I have grown older what I thought was “not cool” is now quite desirable in my opinion. For example I was a Submariner guy ten years ago, today I am a Datejust guy. Even more crazy, two tone watches (which I thought were in poor taste years ago) now look refined and classy. So, when I had the opportunity to try on the Rolex Datejust 41 for a week, I jumped on the opportunity.
To me the quintessential Rolex Datejust must be one with a fluted bezel and a jubilee bracelet. I understand that this is not everyone’s cup of earl grey, but for this writer I think that there really isn’t any other substitute. The nostalgia of that combination of bezel and bracelet makes me realize just how far Rolex has come since the Datejust launch in 1945. There is an Instagram post done by Rolex showing a before and after of the original Datejust and a current offering. The design language really has not changed much in almost eight years.
I was lucky enough to get access to my favorite looking variant of the Datejust 41. My test model was the white gold bezel reference with the incredibly popular “Wimbledon Dial.” Online this dial is noted as Slate, which I feel has to be my favorite dial for a Rolex Datejust in general. It is incredibly Rolex-y with its green edged printed numerals and sunburst dark grey dial. This dial in particular shows all the skills that Rolex has to offer when it comes to dial making. It has an applied Rolex crown logo as the 12 o’clock marker, double pad printed numerals, a single indice at the nine o’clock hour and a beautiful sunburst finish. Literally, every detail is painstakingly done and when explaining this dial to anyone verbally, it doesn’t make sense. However, in reality it is almost overwhelming how the nonsensical use of different styles perfectly collide on one dial. Frankly, it is impeccable design from a team that is commonly bashed by watch nerds for being boring. Rolex hit is out of the park with this forward thinking dial on such a classical timepiece.
From a wearability standpoint, this is where the design team really showed what they could do. The weight of the rather large 41mm case is balanced perfectly with the bracelet. The case thickness of 12.0 mm sits effortlessly on the top of one’s wrist. After trying on hundreds of watches in my time, 12.0 mm thick seems like it may be a sweet spot for watches around 40.0 mm wide. I do not have any sort of scientific reasoning, just a feeling that is almost not explainable unless one tries on a watch at this width. The Submariner, GMT Master and a few other Rolex timepieces that are known for their wearability are also 12.0 mm thick and 40.0 mm wide. Another notable measurement is the lug-to-lug, which is 47.6 mm. This is sub 48.0 mm measurement seems to hold a special place in the watch nerd world. It is commonly a discussion topic online and at watch meetup get-togethers about the lug to lug of a watch. When a watch is below 48.0 mm, it can be seen as a huge positive. I have found watches within a 1mm tolerance to this amount really do wear well. The sweet spot being just under 48.
The finishing of any Datejust really is something to behold. The organic curves of the case and the high luster, mirror polish combined make the Datejust a unique jewel. The watch sparkles and plays with the light like few watches can. I found myself staring at my wrist as I slowly spun my wrist from the clasp to the dial inspecting every edge of the jubilee bracelet until the light caught the facets of the fluted bezel. I am sure I made my wife wonder where my head was at, when we were out to dinner and I could not stop staring at my wrist.
I could go on and on about the mind bending technical details or the high power reserve of the latest Rolex Datejust, but when I read a review about a watch I want to read about the user’s actual experience of wearing the watch. For me this watch ticks all the boxes of a forty two year old male’s dream watch. It is a refined balance of jewelry and masculinity, in a timeless design package that only Rolex knows just how to do. This watch speaks to my own history of seeing my father cherish his success thirty five years ago when receiving a Datejust from my mother. I see why it spoke to him in his early forties and his want to have a timepiece that was comfortable and would effortlessly work with any style or daily activity he was doing. The latest Datejust is the evolution of what we want in 2021, but also weaving great design choices that will forever be timeless.