A Timepiece That Doubles as High Jewellery

The Swiss watchmaker Rolex has reimagined one of its signature styles with colourful dials encircled by diamonds.

Article by Lindsay Talbot

The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31 in steel, white gold and diamonds. $22,600, rolex.com. Photograph by Anthony Cotsifas. Styled by Linda Heiss

The Oyster Perpetual Datejust was introduced in 1945, Rolex’s 40th anniversary. The design brought together two of the 115-year-old Swiss watchmaker’s biggest innovations — the waterproof Oyster case, invented in 1926, as well as its trademark perpetual self-winding movement — and introduced a third: the first-ever dial window on a wrist chronometer to automatically display the day’s date. Rendered in 18-carat yellow gold and topped with a minimally fluted bezel and alpha-shaped hands, the Datejust also debuted the now-iconic Jubilee bracelet, with its elegant five-piece interlocking construction. Though initially created for men, it quickly became a hit with women, so much so that Rolex introduced the more petite Lady Datejust in 1957.

A picture of Andy Warhol wearing a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust watch in 1981. Photography by Nancy Rica Schiff/Getty Images.

The style has since become a brand signature, reimagined in countless iterations, including the new Oyster Perpetual Datejust 31, its face available in mint green, white lacquer, dark grey and — most arrestingly — rich aubergine. With a bezel set in 46 brilliant-cut diamonds, its dial has 18-carat white-gold hands and Roman numerals, including a “VI” encrusted in more diamonds. Made in a combination of gold and steel that’s been a house trademark since 1933, the watch is fitted with a flat, three-piece wristband designed in the late 1930s, giving it a touch of Art Deco charm. Part timepiece and part decorative jewel, it’s synchronicity objectified.

A version of this article appears in print in our launch edition, Page 144 of T Australia with the headline:
First of its Kind/ Last of its Kind
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