There’s nothing more ubiquitous than the Rolex Datejust. Be it an aspirational piece for an individual to a middle manager or under the cuff of your attorney. If you’re a collector of watches, you may have one or know someone that has a Datejust. I don’t need to go over the history, but I will cover the specs here in a minute as part of my premise and anyone that knows me in the community, yes, I am a Rolex fanboy of sorts. Now if you follow my Instagram @watchsalis first, I’m sorry and second you know I have plenty of other brands of watches that I love to adorn with vintage and new Speidel expanding bracelets either found online or from the local Walmart. The 5-digit Datejust or in this example the 16200 Oyster Case contains the 3135 in house self-winding (Perpetual) Rolex Movement with 31 jewels, it is COSC certified with about a 40-hour power reserve ticks along at 4Hz or 28,800 vph. The 16200 comes on the Oyster bracelet and has a smooth polished bezel. The rest of the watch and bracelet save the sides of the case find themselves brushed and the case sides polished like the bezel. The watch head itself is 36mm in diameter and has 20mm lug openings with or without exterior holes for removing the spring bars.
So, by now you’re like “Duh, John we all know which watch”. Well ok have you ever lived with one day after day? Has it gone to a wedding under your rented tuxedo shirt, gone fishing in the lake, tried a court case downtown or just the watch you glance down at each day when you tell the time? Just those questions alone explain why you see so many and why when you ask someone what a Rolex looks like they can tell you mostly this watch the Datejust because they’ve seen one before. The watch that can dress up, take a beating, go to work or just be the watch you wear.
So, what’s a sport watch anyway? Well in my opinion it’s an everyday watch and I call it a sport watch because it can take a shine just as much as it can take a beating. And you know the Datejust comes in so many variants. Here I’m talking about the stainless-steel version, but the watch comes with a white gold bezel, an engine turned bezel, a timing bezel (Turn-o-graph) sometimes a jubilee bracelet that adds a whole other dimension and a myriad of dials, colors, hands and variations on text and lume plots. Did I mention you can also have yellow gold and psst… psst... even in a high frequency overengineered 11 jewel quartz that ticks as loud as your favorite Swatch.
"John, we already told you we know. We know about this. It also comes in 41mm if you were paying attention, John…" Yep, I knew that too. That’s for all you folks with wrists like tree trunks.
Why is the watch the perfect sport watch then? Well, it is for me because when I travel for work or leisure, I can get away with wearing my 16220 for every occasion. T-shirt and jeans on the plane? Yup. Swimsuit in the pool or ocean? Yup. Office meeting? Yup. Clubbing or pubbing? Yup. Boring black-tie dinner with free drinks, plaques and speeches? Yup. Yes, the GMT and the Sub are fun, if not more recognizable maybe in today’s social media fueled world but the Datejust is affordable in both old and new money especially now during this undeclared recession and the watch itself travels really well.
You might be suspecting and you’re right my first Rolex was a Datejust. A 16220 with Rhodium Romans one of the nicest iterations. It was a celebration watch of sorts back in 2002 and lived with me for about 6 years till the the economy tanked and house payments were more important to me than plus or minus 2 secs a day timekeeping.
Years later I was able to re-purchase this iteration. Then I discovered you know what you can mod a Datejust too not just a Seiko SKX. My current Datejust started life as a 16200 smooth polished bezel with a blue stick roman dial. Later the Rhodium Romans and now as 16220 (engine turned bezel) with a later 6-digit version bullseye dial with Submariner hands and a roulette (red, black alternating odd, even) date disk. eBay is a treasure trove of OEM parts and the necessary tools if you hunt hard enough and are brave enough to crack open your watch yourself and mod away.
As we all say, “it’s my watch” and I have all the original parts. I’m not all torn up about the value I have no intention of selling but wait oh yeah recession. Who knows but what I do know is that the Datejust is the do all watch, the Swiss army knife of watches to me. Sturdy, purdy, watertight and infinitely presentable. Yup, it's mine and it’s a silly looking thing like any ole Seiko mod but it’s my kind of silly and might just be the perfect sport watch for you even if it’s just for me.
Oh, and yes, I found a vintage Speidel expanding jubilee bracelet and yup I’ve strapped that baby on a few times.