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The Forgotten Rolex, The Datejust

For many, the first “want one” Rolex model is a Daytona or a Submariner. 2016 saw all sports models rise in value and the desirability of, for example, the GMT Master, increased tenfold. Has the Datejust become the forgotten Rolex?

The Datejust is a familiar watch, perhaps the most copied both by fakers, and by, dare I say, tributes, such as the plethora of Accurist, Rotary and Seikos which were available through the 1980s and 1990s (and still???). Maybe this familiarity has become overfamiliarity.

By re-introduction, the Rolex Datejust is still Rolex’s biggest seller and is of course available in a variety of sizes, styles and materials. Far from the entry level Rolex, the Datejust was the jewel in the five pointed crown, the range topper from introduction until the arrival of the Day-Date in 1956.

The history of the Datejust begins in 1945 when the model joined the already lauded line up, and became the icon it still is, in 1954, when the often imitated magnified cyclops was introduced. Intended to aid legibility to the date window, the cyclops is often cited as the tell tale sign of a Rolex watch from afar.

The case for buying a pre-owned Datejust is compelling. Half the price of a same year sports model in many cases, and half the price of new, if you opt for a pre 116 series watch. At 36mm, the traditional Datejust offers classic and simple lines and immense functionality. Resilient to daily use, and with superb appeal as casual wear or for business, the Datejust range offers serious scope for individuality. They also look great on ladies. I recently spoke to a lady Datejust wearer whose watch had stopped telling the time, needed a service, but was being worn as jewellery. It was a black dialled 1601 from the late 1960s.

Until recently, I haven’t cited the Datejust as a key watch to invest in, but looking at auction prices, and old catalogues, the Datejust holds its value well, and I’m revising my thoughts. The key being condition and originality, if you are looking for financial gain, but exceptionally, you can buy any good Datejust and use it, enjoy it, and comfortably know the value is going to be held over time.