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Rolex Datejust Ref.1601
This is the quintessential Rolex Datejust!
The Rolex Datejust is an iconic watch. I know, it is a term thrown around way too easily, but hear me out:
Rolex watch designs evolve, rather than revolutionize. The roots of the Oyster case can be traced back to the 1920’s and slow, incremental steps lead to the now familiar design. The Datejust as a line of its own was launched in 1945 and lasts until today. And Rolex have managed to maintain the design by continuously finetuning it ever so slightly, just before it would become aesthetically necessary. The result? A 2020 Datejust looks extremely similar to a 1945 Datejust. And both look timeless and fresh.
The design has become somewhat of a watch archetype over time. You only have to browse a typical entry-level jeweler’s watch catalogue to find countless watches that have (intentionally or without knowing it) copied elements of the Datejust. In fact, it is tough to draw a watch without accidentally copying design elements of the trusty DJ. I think it is fair to label a design as iconic if this is the case!
So within an iconic lineup, this is probably the most iconic execution. 1601, implying a pie-pan dial and white gold fluted bezel. But this one has something special that you might not notice at first sight: A Japanese dial. This variation features no lume. The hands are filled black and the applied indexes have no tritium either. The devil is in the details!
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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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