The History of the Rolex Datejust

The History of the Rolex Datejust

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You’ve seen it on the wrists of presidents, celebrities, and successful businesspeople.

That iconic crown logo and fluted bezel are unmistakable hallmarks of the Rolex Datejust. One of the most recognizable luxury watches in the world.

For over 70 years, the Datejust has been a symbol of status, elegance, and timeless style. How did this iconic timepiece come to prominence and become a must have accessory for the wealthy and well-connected?

Its story is one of luxury, innovation, and masterful marketing. 

The Birth of an Icon

The Datejust debuted in 1945 and was Rolex’s first watch with an automatic date change feature. This innovative timepiece housed their then-new 26-jewel Caliber 731 movement that automatically changed the date at midnight.

Originally released in yellow gold, the Datejust was a vision of elegance and practicality.

The fluted bezel, another Rolex hallmark, allowed the wearer to turn the bezel without tools to align the triangle at 12 o’clock for a quick date read.

The waterproof Oyster case, screw-down crown, and Cyclops lens over the date completed this iconic design.

Over time, the Datejust became available in stainless steel and a range of sizes to suit every wrist.

Decorative dials, bezels, and bracelets made the Datejust as much a fashion statement as a precision timekeeper.

Today, the Datejust remains Rolex’s most popular model for good reason.

Nearly unchanged in over 70 years, its timeless style and functionality have endured.

For watch aficionados and casual wearers alike, the Datejust is a certified classic. When you slip one on, you’re wearing not just a watch, but a piece of history.

Evolving With the Times

The Datejust has always been a trendsetter. Originally released in 1945, it was the first wristwatch to display the date through a tiny window at 3 o’clock.

This model set the standard for the date complication and popularized the cyclops lens for magnifying the date display.

In the 1950s, Rolex unveiled the Turn-O-Graph model, which featured a rotating bezel. An innovation that led to the Submariner.

The Datejust received an upgraded, self-changing date in the mid-1960s. Around this time, Rolex also introduced new case sizes (36mm) and metal options (like white gold) to suit changing styles.

The 1970s saw the quickset date mechanism, so you could change the date without stopping the watch.

The following decades brought a host of new bezels, dials, and bracelets to choose from.

More recently, in 2009, the Datejust II with a larger 41mm case was released to appeal to modern tastes.


Through it all, the Datejust has endured while adapting to the times. From understated elegance to sporty chic to unabashed luxury, there’s a Datejust for every era.

This timeless yet versatile icon is a true classic that continues to reign supreme in the kingdom of watches.

Rolex Datejust References

The Rolex Datejust has been an iconic watch model for decades, evolving over time.

Collectors highly seek some vintage references of the men's 36mm Datejust.

Four-Digit Vintage Datejust 36 References

The earliest Datejust 36 models from the 1950s and 60s have four-digit references like the 4xxx, 5xxx, 61xx, and 63xx series.

These feature stainless steel cases, domed plexiglass crystals, and alpha hands. The 66xx references from the mid-1960s introduced the fluted bezel that's still used today.

Five-Digit Datejust 36 References

In the late 1970s, Rolex updated the Datejust 36 to use sapphire crystals and applied baton hands, denoted by the 160xx reference series.

These “transitional” models are also popular with collectors.

Five-Digit Datejust 36 References 162xx

The five-digit Datejust 36 models with references 162xx were produced from 1984 to 2000.

These timepieces feature the then fairly new Caliber 3035 movement, which Rolex debuted in 1977.

This movement provided a quickset date function, allowing you to advance the date disk separately from the time.

No longer did you have to wind through an entire month just to set the date!

This version of the Datejust 36 also introduced the option of a white gold fluted bezel, in addition to the traditional 18K yellow gold.

The white gold bezel provides a sleeker, more understated look while still retaining the signature Rolex fluted design.

Dial options expanded as well, now including slate, silver, champagne, blue, and black dials in a variety of finishes like sunburst, linen, and mother-of-pearl.

Whether you prefer a classic champagne dial with gold accents or a sporty slate dial with a white gold bezel, the five-digit Datejust 36 references provide exceptional variety and style.

These watches truly embody the timeless yet versatile esthetic of the Rolex Datejust.

Six-Digit Datejust 36 References 1162xx

The Rolex Datejust 36 reference 1162xx models feature an updated 36mm case size with refined lugs and crown guards.

Released in 2016, these contemporary versions provide a sleeker profile that still pays homage to the original 1945 model.

Choose between a range of dials including white, black, mother-of-pearl and floral motif. All models offer the legendary Rolex cyclops lens for easy reading of the date.


The fluted bezel provides that signature Rolex look in either 18k white gold, yellow gold or the blend of the two in Rolesor.

Inside the case beats the self-winding mechanical caliber 3135 movement with its 48-hour power reserve.

Like all Rolex timepieces, the Datejust 36 is covered by an international 5-year warranty and is water resistant to 100 meters or 330 feet.

This latest generation of the iconic Datejust continues Rolex’s tradition of perfecting one watch, forever.

With a timeless yet trendy design, robust in-house movement and superior build quality, the Rolex Datejust 36 1162xx makes an elegant statement for any occasion.

Datejust II References 1163xx

The Datejust II launched in 2009 as a larger update to the iconic Datejust model. It features a 41 mm case with a fluted bezel, magnified Cyclops lens over the date window, and a Jubilee bracelet.

The Datejust II is powered by Rolex’s 3136 caliber movement with a 48 hour power reserve.

This contemporary take on the Datejust is perfect for those seeking a sportier esthetic while maintaining the timeless elegance Rolex is known for.

The Datejust II references 1163XX in stainless steel, Rolesor (two-tone steel and yellow gold), and 18K white or yellow gold have proven popular, with the stainless steel and Rolesor versions offering more accessible price points.

For a watch that blends both casual and formal styles, the Datejust II is a compelling choice. It retains the signature Rolex date complication and esthetics that have endured for decades, now sized up for modern tastes. The Datejust II is a supremely versatile watch that looks equally fitting with a t-shirt or a tuxedo.

Datejust 41 References 1263xx

The Rolex Datejust 41 is the latest interpretation of Rolex’s iconic Datejust model.

First introduced in 1945, the Datejust helped establish the signature Rolex date window at 3 o’clock and the Cyclops lens for easy date reading.

The Datejust 41 has a 41 mm case and features Rolex’s new generation movement, caliber 3235.

Caliber 3235 is a certified Swiss chronometer, a precision timepiece that has undergone intensive testing to ensure its accuracy and reliability.

The movement is equipped with Rolex’s proprietary Chronergy escapement and a blue Parachrom hairspring, made of a paramagnetic alloy that is highly resistant to magnetic interferences.

The Datejust 41 is waterproof to 100 meters and its Oyster case provides the best protection for its high-precision movement.

A Few Datejust 41 References

•126334 - Fluted bezel in 18ct white gold, slate dial

•126333 - Smooth bezel in 18ct yellow gold, champagne dial

•126303 - Smooth bezel in stainless steel, bright black dial

The Datejust 41 combines Rolex’s traditional elegance and prestige with a more contemporary size.

It is a timeless and versatile watch that adapts to any occasion.

Six-Digit Datejust 36 References 1262xx

The Rolex Datejust 36 reference 1262xx models were released in 2016, marking the debut of the redesigned Datejust case and movement.

These contemporary six-digit references replaced the previous five-digit Datejust models, ushering in a new era for this iconic collection.

Upgrades for Ref. 1262xx Datejust 36 Models Include

•A redesigned case with smoothly polished edges and a slimmer profile, providing a sleeker and more refined look.

•An updated movement, the Caliber 3235, Rolex’s latest generation self-winding mechanical movement with a power reserve of approximately 70 hours.

•A scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with a Cyclops lens over the date window, magnifying the date display 2.5 times for easy reading.

•Refined bracelets with improved clasps for comfort and security.

•A wider range of dials and bracelet options in various materials like stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, and platinum.

Datejust Sizes

The Datejust comes in a variety of sizes to suit any wrist. The original Lady-Datejust measured a dainty 26mm in diameter, but was sadly discontinued.

The current Lady-Datejust is 28mm, a perfect petite size. For those wanting something a bit bigger, the midsize Datejust is 31mm.

The most popular and iconic size is the Datejust 36. At 36mm, it’s a classic, versatile size that works for most people.

Unfortunately, the Datejust II in 41mm was discontinued, but the new Datejust 41 carries on the larger size tradition.


Datejust Material Options

The Datejust comes in a variety of materials to suit any style.

For an elegant and timeless look, choose between yellow gold, white gold, or Everose gold. Yellow gold has a warm, golden hue and is a Rolex signature.

White gold has a silvery sheen and is a bit more understated. Everose gold is Rolex’s own blend of gold alloys with a pink tint that does not fade over time.

Stainless steel is a durable, corrosion-resistant option perfect for everyday wear. Two-tone models featuring stainless steel and gold allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Platinum is one of the rarest precious metals and provides an icy, silvery finish. It is also naturally hypoallergenic, making it ideal for those with sensitive skin.

Rolex’s proprietary Cerachrom bezel insert is crafted from an extremely durable and scratch-resistant ceramic material.

Available in black or chocolate brown, the Cerachrom bezel provides an elegant accent to any Datejust model.

For a bolder look, choose a gem-set bezel encrusted with diamonds or sapphires. Or add a diamond dial with 10 to 12 diamond hour markers for extra sparkle.

Why the Rolex Datejust Stands the Test of Time

The Rolex Datejust’s timeless design and high quality have allowed it to remain stylish and desirable for decades.

Originally released in 1945, the Datejust was Rolex’s first watch to feature their now iconic date display at 3 o’clock.

This pioneering complication, along with the Datejust’s versatile style, helped establish it as a classic.

Over 70 years later, the Datejust remains largely unchanged.

Rolex has stuck with the formula that made the original Datejust a hit, updating it with modern sizes and new dial/bezel options to keep up with current trends.

Under the hood though, the Datejust still features Rolex’s perpetual movements, like the caliber 3135, ensuring precision and reliability.

The Datejust's enduring success comes down to its versatility and timelessness. Its design is elegant but understated, fitting in as well at a formal event as with casual weekend wear.

And while trends come and go, the Datejust's traditional style and high quality have allowed it to outlast passing fads. For these reasons, the Rolex Datejust continues to stand the test of time.


So there you have it, a high-level glimpse into the illustrious history of the Rolex Datejust. This iconic timepiece has stood the test of time and deserves its place in watchmaking history.

Whether you're a watch aficionado or just appreciate a well-crafted accessory with an amazing backstory, the Rolex Datejust commands respect.