All is calm and all is bright in the fully embellished – yet perfectly poised – Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust.
It is not easy to summarise the allure of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust in a mere few words. Yet the attraction is completely palpable, occurring as a natural, almost intuitive, pull that’s goes straight to your heart – not unlike the way humans are hardwired to associate beauty with symmetry. There’s something about its purity of form and strait-laced aesthetics that starts firing up all the right synapses, triggering emotional pleasure in our brain centre. So blessed it is with harmonious proportions, fluidity of lines and absence of superfluousness, that the Lady-Datejust is the epitome of classic feminine elegance.
Much as the Datejust is Rolex’s most emblematic gent’s timepiece, the Lady-Datejust, which espouses all the core values and design codes of the Swiss manufacture, is its most emblematic ladies’ model. Introduced in 1957, that 28mm case might be dainty, but it’s no less formidable than any other watch produced by Rolex, containing all the manufacture’s most distinctive hallmarks.
The waterproof Oyster case is synonymous with robustness and elegance; virtually scratchproof sapphire crystal with that unmistakable Cyclops lens adored for the sake of utility as well as aesthetics; the magnificent calibre 2236 – a self-winding mechanical movement with the patented Syloxi hairspring that is 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring…
The list goes on, and as it does, one thing becomes increasingly apparent: The notion that style and technical performance go hand in hand for the Lady-Datejust. More importantly, every step in the making of every component in the watch is a quest for perfection, from case to dial to movement to bracelet. Additionally, for gem-set models such as the 2021 Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust in 18k yellow gold diamonds, an entirely new universe unfolds as the manufacture applies its signature perfectionist’s touch to the traditional art of gem-setting.
A cut above
Full gemstone pavé Rolex timepieces are in a league of their own. It’s not an overstatement to say so, because not only are they a step up from the manufacture’s classic models, they’re also physical manifestations of its incredible gem-setting savoir faire.
At Rolex, the hidden art of gem-setting has been honed to a fine discipline at its headquarters. Within its walls, all processes are executed with the same stringent quality control measures as movement assembly, dial-making and micro-componentry. And if there was a secret behind the exceptional sparkle and intensity of Rolex’s gem-set timepieces, that would be it.
To fully appreciate a gem-set Rolex is to delve into the finer details of not just gem-setting but gemology as well, for one isn’t independent of the other. Indeed, they might well be two halves coexisting in the same finished timepiece, where gemology represents science, and gem-setting, art. Gemology involves the brain and the eye, while gem-setting is ruled by the hand and the heart. The gemologist unearths top-quality stones so that the gem-setter may realise their full glory. This beautifully synchronised pas de deux between the two disciplines takes place, whether it is diamonds, coloured gems or ornamental stones that the timepiece requires.
Using only the highest quality stones cut to exact dimensions for maximum luminosity, Rolex famously implements a rigorous testing protocol that relies as much on human expertise as it does state-of-the-art equipment. For instance, diamonds must present no inclusions when observed at 10 times magnification. Meanwhile, colour evaluation is always done by an expert’s eye and compared against certified master stones. The acceptable range is D to G colour – well within the highest grades as defined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Set in stone
These uniformly perfect gemstones are individually set into specially cut grooves on the cases, bezels and bracelets of the Lady-Datejust. Fusing seamlessly with the pieces, here’s where Rolex’s gem-setting know-how truly comes alive. Lapidaries are accurate, but only to a point. It is now the gem-setter’s job to ensure that the table of each stone is precisely aligned with the next, working with variances of no more than two hundredths of a millimetre – a fraction of the diameter of a human hair.
Only after it is optimally positioned will the stone be set in place. The gem-setter carefully coaxes the surrounding metal to wrap its delicate prongs around the stone before applying a final polish to bring out its fire and shine just as nature intended. This sparkling symphony of ice-white diamonds glows in unison with the gleam of polished 18k yellow gold, highlighting the graceful profile of the new Lady-Datejust.
Brilliant-cut diamonds in a range of sizes adorn its every surface. The case is set with 158 stones, plus 44 more around the bezel. With a further 596 covering that exquisite President bracelet, not forgetting that world-famous dial paved with 291 brilliant-cut diamonds, everything comes together to form a scintillating backdrop to the Lady-Datejust’s stunning display of time.
Brimming with festive glamour, this watch, however, doesn’t forget its most essential role – that of time-telling. Performing the task with absolute panache, the hours are read off a circlet of elegant Roman numerals crafted in 18k yellow gold and coated in black via PVD to evoke a modern, dynamic spirit. At the same time, these numbers bring a spot of technical finesse to the forefront of this glittery diamond showstopper – to say nothing yet of the flawless legibility that comes with the package.
Which makes it extra tempting to keep this diamond- festooned ladies’ timepiece on the wrist 365 days a year, and not worn only on special occasions. Because every day is Christmas when you’re romancing the elegant, incandescent and ever-lustrous Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust.
This story first appeared in the December 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.