Rolex Datejust 36 Reference 126234: A Crowning Achievement In ‘Dating’ – Reprise
Starting at Baselworld 2018, Rolex has subtly been revisiting its 36 mm Datejust models. The two stainless steel/white gold models revealed at Baselworld 2019 were the last of these, and I am pleased to now delve into the details of this important modern wristwatch.
Up until the year 1945, when someone wondered what the date was, they looked it up on a calendar. In 1945, Rolex changed that with the introduction of the Datejust, which has the honor of being the first wristwatch to display the date in a window.
While calendar watches existed throughout timekeeping history, some with extraordinary astronomical complications in addition to perpetual and complete calendars, Rolex lays claim to introducing the first watch displaying “just” the date in a window.
Rolex Datejust Oyster case: the emperor’s new clothes
Rolex doesn’t mess with its formula for success, preferring instead to introduce subtle improvements such as those seen at Baselworld 2019.
We’re not talking New Coke here: the 36 mm Rolex Datejust is still wonderfully classic. It’s the real thing!
The Coke-bottle shape of the Oyster case has seen little redesign throughout its history, having remained in its essential form for a very long time. It fits nearly any wrist and suits nearly any occasion.
For 2019, the Oystersteel (Rolex speak for 904L stainless steel) case is now a bit more streamlined with a profile that recalls the lines of elegant sailboats; the toned contours simultaneously present a more sporting and professional air. The case lines are sharp and defined in their planar changes.
The case sides are now more perpendicular than they have ever been, although still not as abrupt as those of Rolex’s professional models, with a generous radius defining their convexity. One can feel the tension of the defined surface. It is a structured statement of the consolidation of visual attenuation.
Think (Rolex ambassador) Lindsey Vonn in her ski suit rather than in a swimsuit. And just like Vonn’s skiing style, the case is fully polished.
The Twinlock crown in tandem with the solid screw-down case back ensure the Oyster case is water resistant to 100 meters, comfortably able to withstand a weekend at the water park before returning to desk duty.
The Jubilee bracelet has also seen a slight revision, most evidently in the end links. The center links are now more robust than ever and designed to integrate better with the roundness of the case flank.
The bracelet, with its brushed outer links and high-polished center links, makes the Datejust positively glitter like a gentle afternoon sea when paired with the sparkling, white gold, fluted bezel.
Its Oysterlock clasp features a 5 mm Easylink extension, while the underside of the bracelet features broad channels between the brushed surface of the links to liberally aerate the wrist when worn. This, to me, is the height of comfort.
Rolex Datejust 36 dial: the furniture palace
This model’s dials have also been updated. Gone is the railroad track, replaced with simple index markers, which opens up the dial space quite a bit, creating larger and more open margins between the flange and hour indices.
The dial is available with applied Roman numerals, gem-set hour markers, or applied hour indices that have been enlarged slightly, gaining more Chromalight lume in the process. The hour hand now reaches even closer to the hour indices, closing the gap even further.
The white gold, five-pointed coronet at the top of the dial – marking its territory at 12 o’clock – is finished with the same high polish as the rest of the hour indices, but its form is gentler and rounder, a hallmark of the brand’s stature. In contrast, the white gold hour markers are chunky like a chocolate wafer candy bar.
Some configurations of the dials also feature a radially brushed metallic sunray finish that wasn’t available before. The surface – as is the case with everything Rolex does – is seemingly flawless. These new metallic sunray dials entertain without intermission.
The break – or plunge – from the edge of the hands to the dial is enhanced even more by the prominent, faceted edges of the baton shapes. White gold and gleaming, the longitudinally bisected hour and minute hands exude permanence. The second hand is an ever more persistent reminder of the stability of Rolex clockwork: its confident and even drift never disturbs or trivializes the supreme legibility of the dial and handset.
The athleticism of the case also influences the dial with its now less decorative and, for lack of a better word, sportier composition.
This applies to a dial base that feels more confident than ever in its identity. The quality, fit, and finish are outstanding, allowing the dial to be surveyed at any pace you like: stare or scan.
Rolex Datejust 36: the empirical cyclops and the royal motivator
Legibility is where the Datejust has always remained excellent. And ever since the date magnifier appeared on its crystal, reading the date has been the easiest task in the world.
The so-called Cyclops defines this model’s purpose and defends its name, magnifying the date to an unmistakable degree. Placed toward the edge of the sapphire crystal, the Cyclops proves to be an adequate loupe through which to admire the perfectly cut execution of the date window.
The Cyclops comes with a double layer of anti-reflective coating while the rest of the crystal does not. In this reference’s configuration, the crystal is surrounded by a faceted, angular, high polished white gold bezel. The Rolesor (Rolex’s name for its combination of white gold and steel, a signature element of the brand since 1933) effect is powerful and instantly recognizable from a country mile.
Caliber 3235 is a new generation of Rolex movements that has been gently introduced throughout the Datejust family. It offers an accuracy of +/- 2 seconds per day by way of a paramagnetic Parachrom hairspring, a Paraflex shock absorber, and the new Chronergy escapement.
This is what Rolex is best at: gradual progress of watch design and technical accomplishment whose aim is prolonging user satisfaction by offering improved products that retain the same core values that drew consumers’ interest in the first place.
The Datejust 36, now available in steel and Rolesor versions, stands as an improved offering that remains attractive, accomplished, and even more certain that the brand’s future is going to be built on the success of this accessible and abundant core model line – just like its past.
While the modern Rolex sports and professional models pay homage to their predecessors, the Datejust doesn’t have to. Its glory lies not atop the world’s highest mountain but at the top of the sales chart.
For me to call the Rolex Datejust one of Baselworld 2019’s most significant releases would not be an exaggeration, either from the point of view of the industry or the brand. I saw the crowds it attracted at the prominent green booth, and the fair was awash with attendees wearing all manner of Datejust, vintage and new.
All it needs to do is be transported from storefront window to wrist for its expertly proportioned, handsomely classic, tastefully reimagined presence to shine. The Rolex Datejust will prove to be stylish and competent no matter where you take it from there.
For more information please visit www.rolex.com/watches/new-watches/new-datejust-36.
Quick Facts Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust Reference 126234
Case: 36 mm, stainless steel body and white gold bezel (known as Rolesor in Rolex parlance), water resistant to 100 meters
Movement: automatic Caliber 3235, 31 jewels, 70 hours power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph, officially certified chronometer
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; instantaneous date
Remark: five-year international guarantee
* This article was first published on April 20, 2019 at 2019 Rolex Datejust 36 Reference 126234: A Crowning Achievement In ‘Dating.’