31mm Rolex watches are fast becoming the most popular size among female wearers, granting a significant step up in wrist presence over the time-honored and more traditional sub-30mm pieces.
They offer a versatile middle ground between conventional ladies watches measuring 26mm or 28mm, and the modern fashion among women to opt for models more usually aimed at men, coming in at 40mm or even bigger.
While the trend at Rolex is for evermore substantial dimensions all across the board, the 31mm offerings are still well represented, with two of the biggest names in horology available in the size.
Of course, back when the brand launched, a 31mm watch was the standard but over the years since has fallen more into the ‘midsize’ category. That means there is a huge archive to choose from, and below we’ll look at some of the beautiful examples we have here at Beckertime.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual 31mm
Alongside the Datejust, Rolex’s Oyster Perpetual family has the most variations in terms of size.
The 26mm and 31mm are now the smallest versions, targeted very much at a female audience, and sit in the range next to a 34mm, 36mm and, since 2015, a 39mm model.
As you can guess, from a watch that comes in a total of five case sizes, there is an Oyster Perpetual for everyone.
Seen as the gateway into the brand, with it having the lowest entry price in the catalog, the OP series really belongs in its own little subset of one. Not a true sports watch from the professional collection like a Daytona or a Submariner, nor an ultra luxurious dress watch à la the Cellini range, it is the archetypal casual daily wear.
Even more so than the Air-King and the original Explorer, which have the same austere simplicity in both design and operation, the Oyster Perpetual is not a watch made for collectors—it’s made for people who just want the best of its type and who will probably keep it forever.
There is nothing showy or bling about it. It is a three-hand, no date, beautifully crafted timepiece that will match any occasion and any outfit.
The 31mm variant is an especially sought after model. Considered the perfect size for slender wrists, it is proving more popular than its 26mm counterpart, with its enlarged proportions giving it a bit more in the way of substance as well as making it easier to read.
It has been a core offering in the lineup for decades and the pre-owned market is full of stunning examples, crafted in a variety of gold, steel or Rolesor—a mixture of both.
The Oyster Perpetual is the watch that put Rolex on the path to its current status as the most successful manufacturer of all time, and it represents the best value for money piece currently available.
The Rolex Datejust 31mm
The model that most readily springs to mind when many people hear the word Rolex, the Datejust is a living legend in horology circles.
An absolute icon of the industry, it ranks up there with the Cartier Santos, the Omega Speedmaster and its own stable mate the Submariner as one of the most important watches of all time.
Although today its styling and functionality seem particularly modest, when it was launched way back in 1945, it was a revolution. The first waterproof, self-winding wristwatch to display a date function, it put Rolex on the map and found its way onto the arms of such luminaries as Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King.
Over its more than 70 years of unbroken production it has been released in more metal, dial, bezel and size combinations than there are grains of sand on the beach.
Like the Oyster Perpetual, there are now five case options for the Datejust, from the newly increased 41mm down to the Lady-Datejust at 28mm.
The 31mm piece is also very much intended for women, albeit in a slightly more eye-catching way. It offers the ideal balance between the smallest size, also recently enlarged from 26mm, and the more unisex 34mm and 36mm models.
While it lost its position of brand flagship to the Day-Date just over 10 years into its run, the Datejust has always been the more varied and adaptable of the two. You won’t find any steel or Rolesor versions of the President’s watch, for example, as you will with the Datejust. It has a low-key, attainable quality while still being unquestionably the highest of high end products.
During its long life, though the aesthetics have barely changed, the technology inside the Datejust has remained at the cutting edge of what is possible. In whichever size, it is the model that more often than not acts as the test bed for Rolex’s unmatched series of innovations.
The Jubilee bracelet was created especially for the watch, and it was the Datejust that debuted the Cyclops lens in 1954. It, along with the Day-Date, stand as the only two Rolex models to ever house quartz movements, and more recently, the first of the brand’s high frequency calibers, the Cal. 3035 beating at 28,800vph, made its introduction inside that unassuming case.
With the 31mm version, Rolex has created perhaps the most universally admired women’s watch there is, and no collection is complete without this essential slice of watchmaking history.