While the look of the Datejust has changed subtly over the years, a Datejust from today looks almost indistinguishable from a Datejust of the 1940s or 1970s, with only slight modifications that hint to a gradual progression in design. Most noticeably (yet still subtle – because this is Rolex, after all) was the addition of the “cyclops” magnifier in 1954, which has been an ever-present feature of the watch ever since.
This particular Datejust, Reference 1600, dates from roughly 1966. An early stainless steel example, it features a stunning black dial with luminescent hour markers that have aged to a handsome yellow patina. The Reference 1600 differs from the more commonly found 1601/1603 models in that the outer bezel is smooth steel, whereas the 1601 features a white gold fluted bezel and the 1603 features an engine-turned steel bezel. 1600s are relatively unusual and are truly the most simplistically elegant of the line.
A Datejust is the ultimate go-anywhere, do-anything watch. On a steel bracelet they take on a sporty air; on leather, elegant and refined; and on nylon, a kind of toughness that only Rolex can have. It inhabits a space somewhere between sporty and dressy and presents a value proposition that is hard to walk away from.