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Rolex Datejust Ref. 1601
The Rolex Datejust is one of the most iconic watch designs ever put to paper. The original shape was first drawn in 1945 and the same basic design is still produced today, the better part of eight decades later.
One of the most popular generations is the four-digit reference era, of which the Ref. 1601 in steel is arguably the most archetypal Datejust of them all. The white gold fluted bezel, combined with the Jubilee bracelet is simply put an iconic pairing. But it is not exactly rare…
It is not rare unless you find one with an uncommon dial. And that is what we have here.
Our ca. 1971 example, however, has not bleached to a white-ish tone. It has darkened to a beautiful warm taupe. While the white text might not have ghosted quite as much as it does on lighter dials, it still optically disappears in many light conditions. On top of this, we also find attractively discolored vanilla tritium and Sigma signing at six, indicating the use of white gold in the hour markers and hands.
These are the kinds of specialties that turn a common Rolex Datejust into something highly desirable.
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The Rolex Datejust is one of the most iconic watch designs ever made. We try not to use the term “iconic” too liberally, but it is surely justified here. Launched back in 1945 as the Ref. 4467, the design has been only marginally updated every now and then. And it has looked fresh and current ever since.
When it comes to vintage, two generations of Datejust are particularly popular; the Ref. 16xx and the later five-digit references. The 16xx models were made from the fifties until roughly 1978 and feature a beautifully dimensional pie-pan dial. Many of these came on folded jubilee bracelets and they did not yet feature a quickset date.
When the reference was updated to five digits around 1978, the pie-pan dial was replaced by a flat dial. The caliber was updated to now feature a quickset date. A decade later, in 1988, a new update saw the introduction of a sapphire crystal. For us, this is where vintage Datejust becomes modern Datejust.
Countless variations can be found. Different bezels, bracelets, dial colors, sizes and materials. The Datejust is one of the most beloved and versatile watches around. If you are looking for a one-watch-collection, that works equally well with shorts as it does with a three-piece suit, the Datejust is probably a pretty safe bet!
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