Today, we go in the metal with two Rolex Datejust 1603’s – one with a matte black dial and one with a flat white dial.
Ebony and Ivory, geeks. Just like the keys on the piano that inspired The McCartney and Wonder hit, todays Lug2Lug is black and white.
Let’s back up: In 1945, Rolex’s 40th birthday gift to itself was the Datejust. That’s right. They didn’t issue a color variation of an existing watch, they championed a new one – one that would go on to be a legend, a ticker at the bedrock of history.
The Datejust was the first watch I ever watched someone fall in love with. When I met Christian, he had just picked up his ’77 Datejust and I still didn’t even know being into watches was a thing. Naturally, asked questions and he answered with that passionate grin. While I still didn’t know what he was talking about, I knew it was something special.
Looking back, I know what he was on to. The versatility; the beefiness the oyster oyster case gives a 36mm piece allows you to wear your Datejust to weddings, dive bars and everything in between. It was the history; the mere thought that this watch graced the wrist of men like Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. It was Rolex, the charm of owning a piece from the best brand on earth. It was the fact that he just purchased something not only appreciated by beginning collectors but by the most seasoned experts in the watch world.
As a T&H team member, it’s impossible not not fall hopelessly in love with the Datejust so yes, these (being “grail” datejusts) are my jam.
First, ebony. A reference 1603 manufactured in 1966, Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” in the background, I’m sure. Cased in the classic Datejust proportions – 36mm diameter, 20mm lugs, it wears just as substantially and yet unobtrusively as every other example we’ve been lucky to offer. But its that dial – that matte black pie pan dial, which has faded ever so slightly to charcoal, that makes this example so special. And the Rolex Service receipts don’t hurt either.
Okay, you’ve seen black. But if there’s a watch that could make you go back, it’s this.
Ivory, also a reference 1603, it was manufactured just three years later in 1969. Its flat white dial, often referred to as “snow white” is not only as pure as the alps, but gratuitously stamped Sigma at 6 is what deserves the attention here.
They’re the perfect watches, I have no doubt. They’re ultimately versatile robust chronometers with more historical significance than we can fathom.
Both rare, equally beautiful, in impressive condition all around, engine turned, fully serviced, on their original jubilee bands and for sale now in the vintage watch shop!