The Rolex Datejust 41 Ref 126334 is not for everybody. First of all, it’s a Rolex. A fact that some will take immediate issue with. Second, it looks kind of boring. Like something your father (or his father) would wear. At least at first glance. Gaze a little longer, though, and you will discover the innate value of the Datejust 41. It is the perfect every day watch. Well-balanced. Nicely proportioned. And with enough wrist appeal to turn heads without causing a scene. Don’t take my word for it though. Read on and make up your own mind.
A (Very) Brief History Of The Rolex Datejust
The origins of the Datejust lie in the origins of Rolex itself. In 1905, Hans Wilsdorf founded a company in London. It specialised in the distribution of timepieces. In 1908, he named it Rolex. His primary focus was on chronometric precision. Wilsdorf needed to show people that wrist worn watches could be accurate.
Two years later, in 1910, he took the first major step towards achieving that goal. A Rolex became the first wristwatch to earn the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. Granted by the Official Watch Rating Centre in Bienne. In 1914, a class “A” precision certificate followed from the Kew Observatory. A distinction previously reserved only for marine chronometers.
The accuracy of his watches established, Wilsdorf turned his mind to further innovations. The next major achievement for Rolex came in 1926. The invention of the world’s first waterproof case for a wristwatch. The Oyster Case. The design calls for the screwing down of the bezel, case back and winding crown against the middle case. A patented system still employed by Rolex today. Albeit with some improvements. Such as the Ringlock System developed for the Deepsea.
So, what does all this have to do with the Datejust? Everything. The model made its debut in 1945 to mark the 40th anniversary of the company’s founding. It was a consolidation of all major innovations from Rolex up until that point. The Datejust was the first self-winding chronometer wristwatch to display the date on the dial. Hence the name. It was also the first such model in a waterproof case.
To give its new model a distinctive look Rolex created a special fluted bezel. Along with a five-piece link metal Jubilee bracelet made specifically for this watch. Both hallmarks of the Datejust today. Ten years later, an instant date-change mechanism was introduced. And a Cyclops lens put in place to magnify the date. And with that, the enduring aesthetic of the Datejust was born.
The Fatal Flaw
The collection has seen many updates over the years, both technical and visual. Still, the fundamental design remains true to the original. That’s what makes it such a recognisable watch.
But for the longest time, the Rolex Datejust 41 had a major drawback. A fatal flaw if you will. The only ‘steel’ option was yellow Rolesor. That’s Rolex speak for a steel bracelet with 18k gold centre links. And a gold fluted bezel and champagne dial. A nice watch no doubt but a little too old-school for my tastes.
That all changed in 2017 though. That’s when the Rolex Datejust 41 became available in a much hipper full steel version. With or without a white gold fluted bezel depending on your preference. In my mind this makes it more wearable on a day-to-day basis. Not to mention a lot more accessible and appealing to a younger audience.
The Rolex Datejust 41 Ref 126334
The Datejust 41 delivers a lot of bang for your buck. This is Rolex after all. As the name suggests, it comes in a 41mm Oyster case. Which is waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet). That’s thanks to the brand’s patented Twinlock double waterproofness system. The winding crown screws down against the case to ensure a secure seal. The crystal, with iconic Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock for easy reading of the date, is sapphire. The middle case is hewn from a solid block of 904L steel.
There are several dial colours to choose from; black, dark rhodium, slate, silver, blue, white. There’s even white mother-of-pearl with diamond hour markers if you’re feeling fancy. All are manufactured in house and feature a subtle sun-ray finish. On the non-diamond versions, the hour markers are in 18ct gold to prevent tarnishing. Hands and hour markers are treated with Rolex’s Chromalight display. This ensures long-lasting luminescence. Even in low-light conditions.
Inside is the calibre 3235. This self-winding mechanical movement is developed and manufactured by Rolex. It boasts 14 patents in total, including the Chronergy escapement. This escapement combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic interference.
New barrel architecture and superior efficiency means a power reserve of 70 hours. The 3235 carries the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This means it is very accurate (−2/+2 seconds per day) and reliable.
The Rolex Datejust 41 comes on either a stainless steel Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The Jubilee is more historically accurate. But my preference is still for the more modern Oyster bracelet. Both feature the new concealed attachment system beneath the bezel. This allows the bracelet to connect seamlessly into the case. A folding Oysterclasp closes the bracelet. The patented Easylink rapid extension system allows you to increase the bracelet length by up to 5 mm. Perfect for those hot summer afternoons when you need to roll up your shirt-sleeves.
Price and Availability
Official retail price of the Rolex Datejust 41 Ref 126334 is GBP 7,250 / USD 9,350. That’s for the model with the 18ct white gold fluted bezel. My favourite is the blue dial model pictured worn on an Oyster bracelet.
These are popular watches though. So, finding one in store at an authorized retailer can be tough. They are available on the secondary market too. Usually for at or around retail.
Why Is It The Perfect Everyday Watch?
The Rolex Datejust 41 makes a strong yet subtle statement on the wrist. It doesn’t loudly announce its presence like the Day-Date. Nor is it endowed with the refined elegance of the Calatrava. Yet, it looks great with a suit and tie. And, it lets people know you mean business. Although, somehow, not in an arrogant way. Plus, it’s got a real sense of history on its side.
Then, once the working day is done, you can take it with you to the bar. Or the restaurant. Or the gallery opening. Or wherever the night takes you. Outside of a black-tie event, the Rolex Datejust 41 will fit in just about anywhere. And that’s why it is the perfect everyday watch.
Technical Specifications: Rolex Datejust 41 Ref 126334
- Case: Oyster – 41 mm – Oystersteel or Oystersteel and white gold – monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown – smooth or fluted bezel – waterproof to 100 metres / 330 feet.
- Dial: Available in several colours – 18ct gold hour markers – Chromalight display with longlasting luminescence on hour markers and hands.
- Movement: Calibre 3235 – bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor – paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, high-performance paraflex shock absorbers – centre hour, minute and seconds hands – instantaneous date with rapid setting.
- Price: GBP 7,250 / USD 9,350.