There’s a lot of discussion out there when it comes to the most recognisable watch design of all time. For many, that design is a Rolex (though personally I think the classic Swatch would give it a solid run for its money). The debate really starts to heat up when you ask the question of what model. Many would argue that the mighty Submariner claims the prize, while I’m of the school of thought that argues the humbler, more utilitarian Datejust deserves the gong.
The Datejust has been around for a long time — it debuted in 1945. What’s amazing, though, is how little the design has changed over the decades — a point that goes a long way to ensuring the design’s longevity. The passage of time has allowed the watch to become enshrined in the language of good design. It’s functional and clean but clearly, and distinctly, Rolex.
This model carries so many of those Datejust hallmarks: the fluted bezel, the Oyster bracelet, the Cyclops — not to mention the Oyster case itself. All these things are so quintessentially Rolex. As is the fact that this version is in Rolesor — steel and Everose gold in this case. And for me the case size of 36mm is classic, too. It might be a little on the small side for a men’s watch these days, but to my mind the size is timeless. This watch will still be going strong in another 30 or 40 years, and I’m willing to bet that this case size won’t look outlandishly large or small.
The dial here is crisp and white, with applied Romans that adds to the dressy flair of this particular Datejust, but it would be just as easy to lean into the more casual vibes with a different dial and less obvious gold (or even straight up steel). So while the steel sports models are what’s getting everyone hot under the collar, I’d argue that there’s a very strong case to be made for the breed of prestige espoused by this Datejust — classic watch design at its best.
Rolex Datejust Reference 126231 price
Rolex Datejust Reference 126231, $14,500 AUD