Watch enthusiasts were dazzled this year as Rolex unveiled new, spectacularly gem-set versions of the iconic Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust in a choice of 18 ct yellow or white gold. These stunning pieces not only serve as exquisite examples of the watchmaker's craftsmanship, but also, showcase the intricate skills of Rolex's in-house team of gemmologists and gem-setters.
The Ultimate Classic Timepiece for Women across Generations -
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Datejust
Exploring the origin, evolution and storied history behind this superlative ladies' timepiece: Read Story
Each gem-set Lady-Datejust timepiece represents untold hours of work for the gemmologist and gem-setter, who work in tandem, first to select the most brilliant gems — each chosen for purity, clarity, intensity and precise regularity of size — and then to set the middle case, bezel, dial and President bracelet with a total of no less than 1,089 diamonds. These incredibly precise motions, passed from one generation to the next, are perfected over the course of many years, and are repeated several hundred times when embellishing the new Lady‑Datejust. These stones are also of the highest order. Rolex uses only diamonds within the top grades of the Gemological Institute of America ("GIA") colour chart, in colour ranges D to G, which are the most colourless and considered as the highest in quality.
Simply setting the 44 brilliant-cut diamonds that adorn the bezel is a meticulous, time-consuming process. With movements as precise as watchmakers, the gem-setter takes a diamond and places it into a groove in the bezel. If the gem is a fraction of a millimetre too high, he removes it, and then scoops an infinitesimal shaving of metal from the cavity with a graver. The stone is then reset, and the whole ritual is repeated if necessary, until each and every one of the 44 gems are all sitting at a height with no more than 2 hundredths of a millimetre in variance with each other.
Eventually, when the gem-setter is satisfied that the jewels are housed uniformly, he carefully pushes the surrounding metal into place so that it gently but securely embraces the gems. The setting is then given a final polish to highlight each stone's intense sparkle.
For this year's spectacular diamond-paved Lady-Datejust, the process described above has to be replicated to showcase 291 diamonds on the dial, another 158 covering the case sides and lugs, and finally a staggering 596 on the bracelet. More than one thousand diamonds set flawlessly on the timepiece, coming together to produce a captivating shine of diamonds from every surface.
This timepiece's beauty is far from skin deep, however. All current Lady-Datejust watches are powered by the calibre 2236 movement, which feature a Syloxi hairspring, patented and produced by Rolex. This silicon hairspring remains up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks, and its patented geometry ensures the calibre's regularity in any position. The movement, which led to filing of several patents, offers a level of accuracy almost unheard of in smaller wristwatches.
Right from the company's inception in 1905, Rolex has always produced jewelled watches. Now, more than a century after its foundation, gem-encrusted pieces continue to be among the watchmaker's most sought-after timepieces. With its all-encapsulating radiance of diamonds, personifying the audacity of excellence, the new Lady-Datejust will no doubt continue to excite.