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In all of Rolex's impressive century of history, the brand has amassed an arsenal of classic designs that have, more or less, remained unchanged throughout the years. The color of the dial may change, a date window may be added, or a watch may be released in precious metals when it was previously only offered in steel (or vice versa), but in all its iterations, a Rolex looks like a Rolex. While some collectors may desire a touch more innovation, that just isn't Rolex's style--because with Rolex, it's not about innovation, but about refinement.
The Rolex Datejust is a classic example of that ethos brought to life. With perfect proportions and a dial that's elegant in its simplicity, the Datejust is a horological icon. First released in 1945--the 40th "jubilee" of the founding of Rolex--and in continuous production for decades, the Datejust is Rolex's most prolific and most enduring model.
That first Datejust of 1945, reference 4467, was available only in 18k gold. At first Rolex was unsure of the success of their new model, which they named Ritedate--the first wristwatch to feature a date window. However, it fast became Rolex's signature model.
While the look of the Datejust has changed subtly over the years, a Datejust from today looks almost indistinguishable from a Datejust of the 1940s through 1970s, with only slight modifications that hint to a gradual progression in design. Most noticeable--yet still subtle, because this is Rolex, after all--is the addition of the "cyclops" magnifier in 1954, and has been an ever-present feature of the watch ever since. Around the same time, the Datejust gained its trademark engine-turned bezel, a harbinger of the fluted bezel of today. As with the first reference of Datejust, this reference was only available in yellow or pink gold. The Datejust was available in stainless steel for the first time 1957.
The Datejust is the ultimate go-anywhere, do-anything watch. On a steel bracelet (the classic Jubilee bracelet, featured here) it exudes elegance; on leather, refinement; and on nylon, a kind of toughness that only Rolex can have. It inhabits a space somewhere between sporty and dressy, suitable to many occasions.
This particular Datejust, reference 1603, dates from 1970. It features a stunning, pie-pan matte black dial with luminescent (tritium) elements that have aged to a handsome yellow. Since black dials are a relatively rare find, it makes this one all the more desirable--coupled with the original Jubilee bracelet, it presents a value proposition that is hard to deny.
Steel Rolex Oyster case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Rolex Ref. 1603. Rolex cal. 1575 automatic movement. Circa 1970.
Overall condition: Stainless steel case is in good condition, showing only slight signs of light age and use in keeping with age, and with no major blemishes or signs of over-polishing. Matte black dial is in excellent condition, with crisp printing and showing fine even patina throughout the luminescent elements and only slight degradation of the hour plot at 10 o'clock. Hands likewise show matching even patina to the luminescent elements, with some flaking on the minute hand. Signed crown; case back shows some light scratches in keeping with age and use.
Includes genuine 20mm Jubilee bracelet (6251H with 55 end links) and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.