A Slice of His­tory

Rolex’s new Datejust 31 draws its in­spi­ra­tion from the brand’s sto­ried his­tory

Prestige Hong Kong - Tic Talk - - CONTENTS -

At Rolex’s man­u­fac­tures in Switzer­land, only nat­u­ral di­a­monds des­ig­nated IF are se­lected to grace the brand’s time­pieces. The ini­tials, which stand for in­ter­nally flaw­less, mean they’re in the top 1 per­cent of high- grade stones, and are ex­tremely rare. You will, how­ever, find them in a shim­mer­ing cir­cle grac­ing the bezel of the be­guil­ing new Datejust 31, a model that also fea­tures 10 di­a­mond hour mark­ers.

But there’s far more to this model than supremely al­lur­ing di­a­monds; a great deal is also con­tained and con­cealed within the watch’s work­ings. A state­ment watch since its launch, the Datejust holds a par­tic­u­lar fas­ci­na­tion for time­piece afi­ciona­dos. By the time of its de­but in 1945, Rolex had long been at­tract­ing the in­dus­try’s at­ten­tion with a run of in­no­va­tions. Hav­ing al­ready given birth to the world’s first water- re­sis­tant watch in 1926 – with a case, the Oys­ter, named af­ter the elu­sive wa­ter­tight mol­lusc – in 1931 Rolex fol­lowed up by cre­at­ing a wrist­watch com­plete with an­other first, the per­pet­ual ro­tor. This new abil­ity to power a watch with en­ergy stored from the wearer’s mov­ing wrist was an as­tound­ing feat and gave rise to au­to­matic wrist­watches, which still dom­i­nate watch col­lec­tions to­day. It was a game changer.

And so, ar­riv­ing as it did to co­in­cide with the brand’s 40th an­niver­sary, the first Datejust had to be spe­cial – and it didn’t dis­ap­point. When it was un­veiled, the Rolex Oys­ter Per­pet­ual Datejust fea­tured both of those pre­vi­ous in­no­va­tions and one new one, be­com­ing the first au­to­matic wrist­watch to dis­play a date on the dial – at 3 o’clock. As it had done pre­vi­ously with the per­pet­ual ro­tor, Rolex had cre­ated a func­tion that went on

The Datejust ar­guably is the most recog­nis­able mem­ber of a rich fam­ily of no­table time­pieces

to rev­o­lu­tionise the en­tire watch in­dus­try. Later the com­pany em­pha­sised that fact by cir­cling the date win­dow with its fa­mous Cy­clops mag­ni­fier.

The model has be­come an icon for the brand, and an en­dur­ing main­stay; in­deed, it’s ar­guably the most recog­nis­able mem­ber of a rich fam­ily of no­table time­pieces. And, as this year’s be­guil­ing new edi­tions demon­strate, it’s still full of in­no­va­tions.

This year the Datejust 31 is up­dated with the cal­i­bre 2236. This new­gen­er­a­tion, self- wind­ing me­chan­i­cal move­ment is en­tirely man­u­fac­tured in- house at Rolex, and fea­tures the Sy­loxi hair­spring that Rolex brought to mar­ket in 2014, af­ter many years of re­search. Made from sil­i­con, this in­no­va­tion has been con­firmed in test­ing to be 10 times more pre­cise than tra­di­tional fer­ro­mag­netic hair­springs. The per­pet­ual ro­tor and oys­ter case of the orig­i­nal Datejust re­main, and of­fer a 55- hour power re­serve and wa­ter­proof­ing to 10 bar, as well as a scratch- proof sap­phire Cy­clops lens that beau­ti­fully show­cases the wrist­watch’s most dis­tinc­tive fea­ture.

The Datejust has been re­leased in many it­er­a­tions, large and small. This time around, the 31mm mod­els sit sleek on the wrist, meet­ing the mod­ern de­sire for more diminu­tive siz­ing, and are crafted from blocks of yel­low gold, the pink- hued Everose gold and be­guil­ing white gold. Each is set with 46 bril­liant- cut IF di­a­monds on the bezel, se­lected by spe­cial­ists at the Rolex ate­lier for their au­then­tic­ity and clar­ity. Then, with a metic­u­lous deft­ness of touch, a ded­i­cated gem- set­ting team places each stone into its al­lo­cated po­si­tion, one by one.

There’s also no com­pro­mise in terms of per­for­mance, and from su­perla­tive gems we move swiftly to a su­perla­tive chronome­ter. Since the 1950s, Rolex has tested and cer­ti­fied its time­pieces to its own high stan­dards. The process was re­vised in 2015 and named the

Su­perla­tive Chronome­ter, and now spec­i­fies that each watch is found to sat­isfy a se­ries of con­trols in Rolex’s own labs, us­ing cri­te­ria that not only com­ple­ment the al­ready rig­or­ous Swiss watch in­dus­try’s COSC cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, but also go above and be­yond in­dus­try norms. The brand’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion tests be­gin only once the watch is en­tirely fin­ished and fully as­sem­bled in the cas­ing, and mea­sure for pre­ci­sion, wa­ter­proof­ing, self- wind­ing abil­ity and power re­serve. A pos­i­tive Su­perla­tive Chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, the re­sult of this process, is fin­ished with a flour­ish, with the watch re­ceiv­ing an in­scrip­tion on the dial, a move that has be­come a sig­na­ture for Rolex.

Given the brand’s grow­ing world­wide pop­u­lar­ity to­day, it can be easy to lose sight of the ex­cel­lence in per­for­mance that Rolex has long pur­sued. In 1910, for ex­am­ple, the brand was awarded the first Swiss Chronome­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for a wrist­watch. When a wearer se­lects a Datejust 31, what they’re choos­ing is not just a mod­ern marker of time, and a rather daz­zling one at that, but a cul­mi­na­tion of decades of pre­ci­sion and pres­ti­gious watch­mak­ing. This adorn­ment is not only a story of clas­sic style, but also of a fa­bled past.

ABOVE: THE SU­PERLA­TIVE CHRONOME­TER CER­TI­FI­CA­TION HAS BE­COME A ROLEX SIG­NA­TURE

FAR LEFT: THE DATEJUST 31’ S MOVE­MENT. ABOVE LEFT: THE WATCH’S BAL­ANCE WHEEL

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