Rolex's Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust: The Audacity Of Excellence
“A classic designed for a lady”. So might some describe the Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust. Maybe they’re right. If “classic” means perpetuating tradition with a blend of elegance and precision, grace and resistance, beauty and technical performance. If being “a lady” means constantly pursuing a higher standard with unyielding determination. Then indeed the Lady-Datejust is a classic designed for a lady.
1957. THE BIRTH OF AN ICON.
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. Women were changing.
No less ladylike than their mothers, they were enjoying new, active lifestyles. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, understood this: the modern woman wanted to manage her time to control her destiny. She needed as much precision as men.
And so was born, in 1957, Rolex’s classic women’s watch: the Lady-Datejust. A watch of smaller proportions built on unwavering standards of excellence. A watch for women that was every bit as reliable as a man’s. With this innovation, the brand had broken new technical ground in terms of the case size, while also obtaining COSC chronometric certification for this small model.
The Lady-Datejust was inspired by audacity. It addressed not only a technical challenge but a cultural one, too: this watch would serve to further women’s independence. An uncompromising creation, combining elegance and accuracy on the wrist of a modern, graceful and accomplished woman. A symbol of assertiveness expressed in exquisitely feminine form.
Incorporating several decades of watchmaking innovations, the Lady-Datejust has established itself as the ultimate classic women’s watch: a piece of technical prowess made for women who believe in themselves.
2021. AN AUTHENTICALLY MODERN CLASSIC
Adopted by women whose steadfast determination has led them to remarkable achievements, the Lady-Datejust graces the wrist of the marine biologist Sylvia Earle, the golf champion Annika Sörenstam, and the singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. As pioneers in each of their fields, they portray a new image of femininity: engaged, modern and in permanent pursuit of excellence.
Inspired by their legacy, the next generation is bringing renewed vigour to disciplines across the spectrum. Whether it be the prodigious pianist Yuja Wang, the tennis champion Garbiñe Muguruza, the biologist Emma Camp working to protect coral reefs, or the sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar, these women are the new faces of contemporary femininity.
FEATURES OF THE LADY-DATEJUST
- Classic timeless elegance
- Instantaneous date with Cyclops lens
- Many variants (large selection of dials, bezels and bracelets)
- Superlative Chronometer certification, specific to Rolex
- International five-year guarantee
- Self-winding mechanical movement, COSC certified
- Power reserve of 55 hours
- Syloxi hairspring in silicon
- High-performance Paraflex shock absorbers
- 28 mm Oyster case, waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet)
WATCHMAKING KNOW-HOW AND TECHNOLOGY CONCENTRATED IN A SMALL WATCH
28 MM OYSTER CASE - A SMALL CASE FOR A GREAT WATCHMAKING ACHIEVEMENT
The Lady-Datejust’s Oyster case, 28 mm in diameter and guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness and elegance. The middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel, a particularly corrosion-resistant alloy, or from 18 ct gold. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only certified Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case. The crystal, with a Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock for easy reading of the date, is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimum protection for the Lady-Datejust’s movement.
PERPETUAL CALIBRE 2236 - A MOVEMENT AT THE FOREFRONT OF WATCHMAKING TECHNOLOGY
The Lady-Datejust is equipped with calibre 2236, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate demonstration of technology, this movement carries a number of patents. It offers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
The oscillator of calibre 2236 has a balance wheel with variable inertia regulated extremely precisely via gold Microstella nuts. It is held firmly in place by a height-adjustable traversing bridge enabling very stable positioning to increase shock resistance. The oscillator is also fitted on high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, designed and patented by Rolex.
Calibre 2236 is fitted with a self-winding module via a Perpetual rotor, which ensures continuous winding of the mainspring by harnessing the movements of the wrist to provide constant energy. It offers a power reserve of approximately 55 hours. The movement of the Lady-Datejust will be seen only by certified Rolex watchmakers, yet it is beautifully finished and decorated in keeping with the brand’s uncompromising quality standards.
SYLOXI HAIRSPRING - AN EXCLUSIVE HAIRSPRING FOR OPTIMUM STABILITY
Calibre 2236 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. The Syloxi hairspring found in calibre 2236 has a geometry that guarantees the regularity of the movement in any position. It also includes a paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus escape wheel.
A SINGULAR WATCH IN EVERY WAY
The quintessentially classic watch, known for its timeless and inimitable style, the Lady-Datejust has, over time, unveiled a variety of bezels and dials that reflect as much the personality of its wearer as the model’s ability to renew its own elegance in fine detail. It beckons its owner to shape its own future.
DIALS, BEZELS AND CASES
Multiple dial variations are possible on the Lady-Datejust. They are available in a wealth of materials, colours, motifs and markers – indices, Roman or Arab numerals – with numerous gem-setting options for the hour markers or the dial itself. Among the iconic champagne-colour, silver, white, pink and diamond-set dials, the dial in mother-of-pearl stands out for its singularity.
Domed, fluted or gem-set, the bezel of the Lady-Datejust is available in three different designs, each conferring its own distinctive aesthetic.
MOTHER-OF-PEARL DIAL - NATURAL ELEGANCE
Mother-of-pearl is by its nature full of mystery and surprises. Depending on its origin, it can be pink, white, black or yellow. It differs in colour, intensity and structure according to the part of the shell from which it is extracted. At Rolex, mother-of-pearl is never artificially coloured. Instead, particular know-how and skill are devoted to simply highlighting its natural beauty and preserving the original hues. As all mother-of-pearl dials are unique pieces, an identical dial will never be found on another wrist.
GOLD AND OYSTERSTEEL
The Lady-Datejust is available in several metal alloys: Oystersteel, 18 ct yellow, white or Everose gold, and in a Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and yellow, white or Everose gold).
GOLDS BY ROLEX
Whether yellow, white or Everose, the 18 ct gold of the Lady-Datejust shines with a special radiance. Rolex has its own foundry and develops its gold alloys from the purest raw materials. From casting to the shaping and polishing of the gold, everything is carried out in the Rolex workshops with meticulous care to ensure impeccable quality. Everose gold, an exclusive 18 ct pink gold alloy developed and patented by Rolex, owes its unique hue to its exclusive composition.
THE GEM-SET LADY-DATEJUST
In 2021, Rolex introduced a new sparkling version of its Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust. This entirely gem-set version in 18 ct yellow gold is draped in glittering diamonds. The case is entirely set with 158 brilliant-cut diamonds on the case sides and lugs, while the bezel features 44 brilliant-cut diamonds. This new Lady-Datejust is fitted on a President bracelet set with 596 brilliant-cut diamonds. Its dial is paved with 291 brilliant-cut diamonds.
ROLEX GEMMOLOGY AND GEM-SETTING - PURITY, CLARITY AND RIGOUR
Rolex uses only the highest quality gemstones of natural origin, which the brand itself verifies. Whether it be diamonds, rubies, sapphires or emeralds, the stones must always be the finest. This includes the cut of the stone in particular, as well as its clarity, colour and exact dimensions. Rolex’s know-how comes into play from the initial quality control of the gemstones, for example ensuring perfectly uniform hues when sorting the stones by colour, to the gem-setting process itself.
The rigorous verification protocol that is applied when gemstones are received relies as much on human expertise as on state-of-the-art equipment. During qualitative analysis, diamonds and coloured gemstones are subject to the same selection criteria, following the standards set out by the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO). The way a stone is cut – the symmetry and proportions of the facets – and how it is polished determine the way in which light penetrates it and is reflected off the underside, the area known as the pavilion. On a diamond, a perfect cut intensifies the ‘fire’ in the stone – the coloured flashes of light seen on the surface when it is exposed to light; its brilliance – the way in which it reflects white light; and its scintillation – the play of contrast between the light and dark areas within the stone. Clarity relates to the absence of flaws. As each gemstone is natural, it is not unusual for inclusions to be present. For diamonds, Rolex selects only the purest, with no visible inclusions when examined under magnification – those equivalent to IF (Internally Flawless) on the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) scale. The final criterion, colour, is always evaluated by the naked eye, as it requires the gemmologist’s seasoned aesthetic judgement. To complete the assessment, the stones are compared against certified master stones. Rolex uses only the most colourless diamonds; they must be classed ‘exceptional white +’, ‘exceptional white’, ‘rare white +’ or ‘rare white’ – equivalent to GIA colour ranges D to G – the highest grades on the diamond colour scale. With coloured gemstones – rubies, sapphires and emeralds – Rolex takes particular care to ensure that all the stones to be set on a given watch are of the same hue. This requirement is met through a careful colour-sorting process carried out by hand, stone by stone, in the Rolex workshops.
THE ART OF GEM-SETTING
Once approved by the gemmologists, the precious stones are entrusted to the gem-setters, masters of their art and in skilled in the various techniques of their profession – bead setting and channel setting. Besides the intrinsic quality of the stones themselves, several other criteria contribute to the reputation of Rolex gem-setting: the precise alignment of the gems, their robustness, their orientation, and the finishing of the beads.
OYSTER, JUBILEE AND PRESIDENT BRACELETS
Depending on the version, the Lady-Datejust is available on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet with a folding Oysterclasp; on a five-piece link Jubilee bracelet – created in 1945 especially for the Datejust – with a Crownclasp; or on a three-piece link President bracelet with a Crownclasp. A concealed attachment system ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case.
The Lady-Datejust’s Oyster bracelet also features the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by the brand, which allows the wearer to easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm, for additional comfort in any circumstance. The President bracelet, fitted on some 18 ct gold versions, includes ceramic inserts inside the links to enhance its flexibility and longevity.
THE LADY-DATEJUST, SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER CERTIFIED
Like all Rolex watches, the Lady-Datejust is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation testifies that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories and according to its own criteria. These certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.
The precision of every movement – officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – is tested a second time by Rolex after being cased, to ensure that it meets criteria that are far stricter than those of the official certification. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone.
The Superlative Chronometer certification testing is carried out after casing using state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex and according to an exclusive methodology that simulates the conditions in which a watch is actually worn and more closely represents real-life experience. The entirely automated series of tests also checks the waterproofness, the self-winding capacity and the power reserve of 100 per cent of Rolex watches. These tests systematically complement the qualification testing during development and production, in order to ensure the watches’ reliability, robustness, and resistance to magnetic fields and shocks.
These stringent controls apply to every watch leaving the Rolex workshops.