It has taken a while, but women finally have a staggering amount of choices in timepieces that satisfy demands of both aesthetics and technical flair. But too much choice can be paralysing, which is why everyone needs a go-to, everyday watch — a watch like the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust. Its design is classic, its movement mechanical, and it has been the accessory of choice for strong, enterprising women for over half a decade.
Related article: The Future Is Female, According To Rolex
Inspired by the likes of actress Audrey Hepburn, French playwright Francoise Sagan, equestrian Pat Smythe and many more, Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf wanted to create a timepiece that honoured the modern, active woman. So in 1957, the Lady-Datejust was born.
It was modelled after the men’s Datejust, which was released about a decade earlier for the brand’s 40th anniversary and famous for being the first automatic watch with a date display. A good 10mm smaller than its male counterpart, the 26mm Lady-Datejust was perfect for smaller wrists.
Related article: What Has Rolex Got To Do With The Film Industry?
Downsizing men’s watches for women was (and still is) common practice, but what Rolex did differently was to ensure the Lady-Datejust could boast the same mechanical precision and reliability as everything else in its stable. This meant the watchmakers had to work with smaller components to achieve the same COSC chronometer certification.
Needless to say, the watch was a hit. Numerous variations were released to suit the changing tastes of society’s feminine trailblazers. By 2015, the case size was increased to 28mm, and the COSC certification was replaced by Rolex’s Superlative Chronometer Certification, which puts watches through a battery of even more taxing tests to provide greater chronometry. Watches with this green seal, for instance, are accurate to -2/+2 seconds a day, compared to COSC’s -4/+6 seconds.
The current generation of Lady-Datejust watches also enjoy of Rolex more recent innovations. Using the automatic calibre 2236, it was one of the first Rolex collections to use silicon hairsprings, dubbed “Syloxi” hairsprings. The movement also uses the brand’s patented Paraflex shock absorbers to increase the resistance of its movements to shocks. With a power reserve of 55 hours and a water resistance of 100m, the Lady-Datejust is primed for convenience.
Options are still plentiful now, with various materials, dial colours, motifs and hour markers to choose from. Also offered are different bracelet configurations, and gem-set versions that go from simple sparkling bezels to all-out, fully-paved glittering glory.
The only thing that has remained constant are the types of women the watch was designed for. Pianist Yuja Wang, tennis champion Garbiñe Muguruza, biologist Emma Camp and sitarist Anoushka Shankar count among the Lady-Datejust’s fans today. If these are the women you can relate to, the type that value their style as much as their pursuit of excellence, then this is the watch for you.