Ladies Classic: Rolex Lady-Datejust
By The Time Place Magazine
An icon since its creation, the Rolex Lady-Datejust now symbolises a new age of femininity
Rolex, as a brand, has always championed tradition and excellence in all its endeavours. This is why most, if not all, its watches are considered icons or classics in their own right. One of the timepieces that have definitely captured the attention, and the hearts, of ladies the world over is the Rolex Lady-Datejust.
Created during a time when women were changing, the Lady-Datejust signifies rebirth and a whole new purpose. The year was 1957, and at that time, many females were achieving great new things: Audrey Hepburn was captivating Hollywood, Sylvia Earle obtained her Master of Science, Françoise Sagan was shaking up the literary landscape, Pat Smythe reigned supreme in equestrian sport, and fashion designer Adèle Simpson had New-York clamouring for her latest creations. Gone were the days when ladies just stayed at home and took care of their children; now, they were becoming more active in academia, in sports, in the silver screen and other equally prestigious fields. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, noticed this change and realised that the modern woman, in managing her time and fulfilling her destiny, required the same precision as men.
The master watchmaker then designed the Lady-Datejust, with smaller proportions than its masculine counterparts, yet created with the same unwavering standards of excellence as any Rolex watch. Addressing not only a technical challenge, with its smaller case size, but also a cultural one, Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex successfully created a watch that redefined femininity. Not only is the Lady-Datejust an elegant, graceful and accurate timepiece, it is also a symbol of the assertiveness, audacity and modernity expressed by the new woman.
Since then, the Lady-Datejust has seen several decades of watchmaking innovations, as well as numerous iterations. As its base, the watch boasts a 28 mm Oyster case, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres. Providing the watch optimum protection, it has a middle case crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel, a particularly corrosion-resistant alloy, or from 18 ct gold, as well as a case back, edged with fine fluting, which is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only certified Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. Screwed securely against the case is the Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system while the crystal is equipped with a Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock for easy reading of the date.
At the heart of the Lady-Datejust beats the calibre 2236, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate demonstration of Rolex’s technical knowhow, the calibre was constructed thanks to a number of patents, and offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability. COSC-certified, it incorporates a Syloxi hairspring in silicon, which is patented and manufactured by Rolex. Insensitive to magnetic fields, the Syloxi hairspring provides great stability in the face of temperature variations and remains up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. Calire 2236 provides the watch with a 55-hour power reserve.
Over the years, the Lady-Datejust has been made available with multiple case, dial and bezel variations, catering to the changing and differing personalities of its wearers. Its most recent model, released in 2021, was a fully gem-set version in 18 ct yellow gold. Some of the watch’s most iconic dials include champagne-colour, silver, white, pink and diamond-set, while mother-of-pearl is set apart for its lustrous beauty. The bezel can be domed, fluted or gem-set. Case materials include Oystersteel, 18 ct yellow, white or Everose gold, and Rolesor (combining Oystersteel and yellow, white or Everose gold). Depending on the version, the timepiece is available on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet with a folding Oysterclasp; on a five-piece link Jubilee bracelet with a Crownclasp; or on a three-piece link President bracelet with a Crownclasp. The Oyster bracelet is equipped with the Easylink comfort extension link. Like all Rolex watches, the Lady-Datejust is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015 and comes with an international five-year guarantee.
An enduring symbol of the strength, femininity and ability of the modern woman, the Lady-Datejust continues to be worn by dedicated and accomplished women, including marine biologist Sylvia Earle, the golf champion Annika Sörenstam, and the singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. It also graces the wrists of a whole new generation of women, who are achieving success in their chosen disciplines – prodigious pianist Yuja Wang, tennis champion Garbiñe Muguruza, biologist Emma Camp or the sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar – making it a true icon of all time.
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