A watch with an instantaneous date rollover should be a given these days, but the change sometimes drags on. Not so with Rolex, and the Oyster Perpetual Datejust offers the most pertinent reminder of this fact, by virtue of its name. The Datejust name is a reference to the fact that Rolex has been making instantaneous and precise date switching watches since 1945. Though we think of this watch with the Cyclops lens, that was only added in 1953, to especially impressive effect in this 2019 watch.
The watch we are looking at this issue is the Datejust 31, which is a 31mm model, and the Datejust 36; Rolex makes the Datejust in all manner of sizes, from 28mm all the way up to 41mm. Rolex has faithfully expanded the Datejust collection over the years, introducing a multitude of dials and material variations. WOW Thailand first identified two 2019 references to make the case for the Datejust 31, and we had to chime in via the Jewellery issue, which is still unique to Singapore.
Now, even though we are paying a lot of attention to these models, they are still a bit under the radar, for Rolex watches. For example, one might think that the chief difference between the 36 and the 31 versions is in the size, and that is certainly true. However, the look of the Datejust 36, new in Rolesor white gold, with a gem-set white gold bezel (52 brilliant-cut diamonds), white gold hands, diamonds for hour markers (10 brilliant-cut) and a mother-of-pearl dial, is completely different to the Datejust 31. Also new this year in Rolesor yellow gold, with olive green dial, Roman numerals and a distinctively diamond-set VI, the Datejust 31 is clearly more than a diminutive cousin. It also has a yellow gold bezel, hands and numerals.
Another difference between the two watches is the bracelet, which in the Datejust 31 is the Jubilee version, with a concealed folding Crownclasp; the smaller centre links are in yellow gold while the larger outer segments are in Oystersteel. In the Datejust 36, the bracelet is the Oyster version, again with centre links in white gold and the outer links in Oystersteel.
Diamonds used in Rolex watches are selected by the masters of gem-setting (something we covered in last year’s WOW Jewellery). Only those gems with the highest clarity grade of IF (internally flawless) are accepted. The colour must be in the most clear range, meaning D to G – the highest on the GIA colour scale, meaning these are virtually colourless. Before the gem-setters get their hands on them, the diamonds are given a thorough examination by the in-house gemmologists, using various tools including X-ray imaging, to ensure all criteria are met. The seriousness of this process is such that Rolex dedicated its CheneBourg site in Geneva to gem-setting and dial-making.
ROLEX DATEJUST 36
MOVEMENT Automatic manufacture calibre 2236; 55-hour power reserve
CASE 31mm yellow gold Rolesor; water-resistant to 100m
STRAP: Yellow gold Rolesor Jubilee bracelet
ROLEX DATEJUST 31
MOVEMENT Automatic manufacture calibre 3235; 70-hour power reserve
CASE 36mm white gold Rolesor, with gem-set bezel; water-resistant to 100m
STRAP: White gold Rolesor Oyster bracelet