During Baselworld 2019, Rolex presented a steel version of the classic Datejust 36 – well, the Steel/Rolesor version with white gold bezel to be precise. A sibling of the Datejust 36 released last year in Everose gold and steel, the new Datejust is a more affordable proposal with white gold used exclusively on the bezel. With its proverbial mix of strength and elegance and its appealing unisex case size fitted with the latest generation Rolex movement, we are convinced that this particular iteration of the three-hand Datejust is one of most versatile and desirable of them all.
Compared to the other two-tone models unveiled by Rolex and Tudor this year, notably the extravagant Sea-Dweller and the Black Bay Chrono S&G, the Rolesor combination of white gold with stainless steel on the Datejust 36 creates a much more restrained, elegant and ‘safer’ timepiece in the long run. Let’s have a look at the 2019 Rolex Rolex Datejust 36 Steel Ref. 126234.
natural selection in the watch world
Rolex is a classic case study of Darwinian evolution in the watch world. Like Darwin’s theory of biological evolution, in which natural selection favours the traits that will promote an individual’s chance to survive and multiply, Rolex has been steadfast in honing winning traits to pass on to the next generation. Gradual evolution, not radical revolution, is the mantra at Rolex, where predictability and continuity are greeted with enthusiasm by aficionados and the slightest tweak debated on forums in aeternum.
The Datejust is a prime example of natural selection, slowly evolving and maturing since its debut in 1945 to become a genuine icon of the brand. A classic three-hander with date window, the Datejust has the perfect balance between casual elegance and robustness, dressy enough for the office and sporty enough for a game of squash.
As the world’s first self-winding chronometer to indicate the date in a window on the dial, the 1945 model was an evolution of the waterproof Oyster of 1926 and incorporated another Rolex patent in the form of its Perpetual Movement of 1931. In addition to the date window, the Datejust came with a special gold Jubilee bracelet and a fluted bezel, the latter constituting a characteristic design feature of Datejust watches. Another key trait would be the incorporation of the Cyclops lens in 1953 over the date window to enhance legibility.
The latest major update to the Datejust took place in 2018. As mentioned, superficial design updates on the case and dial tend to be reassuringly discreet, but aficionados spotted the slightly slimmer case, lugs and bezel. However, the big novelty regarded the movement and the Datejust was fitted with calibre 3235, the latest-generation movement developed and manufactured by Rolex with improvements in precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields.
Functionality becomes synonymous with luxury
The characteristic fluting on the bezel that we all associate with the Datejust was not an aesthetic choice; it was originally used to screw the bezel onto the case to ensure no water leaked into the movement. The same fluting, in a less pronounced form, also appears on the caseback to enhance waterproofness. Today the gold fluted bezel on the Rolesor models of the Datejust is a fundamental design cue and you can recognise it from a mile away, especially when it catches the light.
The 36mm diameter of the Datejust works perfectly on men and women’s wrists and, although it is technically a two-tone Rolesor, the combination of white gold and steel has a very different presence than other Rolesor combinations of yellow gold and steel or Everose gold and steel. It is much easier to grow tired of a two-tone watch. If you remember, two-tone watches went the way of shoulder pads during the 1980s and are only now resurfacing.
The bezel is the only part of this watch that contains 18k white gold. The middle case is made from a solid block of corrosion-resistant Oystersteel ensuring its 100-metre water-resistance, while the crown is fitted with the Twinlock double locking system.
Protected by a scratch-proof sapphire crystal and the hallmark Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock, the dial of this new Rolex Datejust 36 Steel 126234 is black with an elegant sunray finish. The hour markers and hands are made from 18k gold to prevent tarnishing and treated with Rolex’ in-house luminescent material Chromalight emitting a long-lasting blue glow in the dark. The contrast between the handsome black dial and the gleaming gold bezel is truly spectacular.
Since 2018, all the new Datejust 36 models are fitted with calibre 3235, the latest-generation Rolex movement with a perpetual rotor and new barrel architecture for a power reserve of 70 hours along with anti-magnetic materials like a nickel-phosphorous escapement and a paramagnetic hairspring. Certified as a Superlative Chronometer by Rolex offering precision of -2/+2 seconds per day, the watch is also COSC-certified and comes with a five-year guarantee.
The five links of the Jubilee bracelet hark back to the original. The three central links are polished while the outer links are satin finished with polished edges and come with the practical folding Oysterclasp with its Easylink extension link system allowing you to adjust the bracelet 5mm in either direction. I have to admit that if I am not as fond of the more elaborate design of the Jubilee bracelet, but realised that it is extremely comfortable to wear and follows the contours of the wrist. The more links, the more comfort…
Obviously not using gold on the central links of the bracelet means the watch is less expensive than other Rolesor 36mm siblings. The present Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 36 reference 126234 retails for EUR 7,500. Note that the 2019 Datejust 36 now also comes in full Oystersteel, with a flat bezel and an Oyster bracelet, under reference 126200, which retails for EUR 6,250.
For more details, please consult www.rolex.com.