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A Brief History of the Ladies’ Date Rolex Watch
The ladies’ Date watch is one of the first women’s Rolex watches to include a date window. However, it is oftentimes overshadowed by its more popular sister, the Lady-Datejust. Yet, the Rolex ladies’ Date watch offers most of the benefits of the Lady-Datejust at a more accessible price point. Let’s find out what this underrated women’s dress Rolex watch is all about.
The Signature Design Details of the Ladies’ Date Watch
Although the ladies’ Date watch evolved over the years, there are some common design traits regardless of the generation. First, the ladies’ Date watch includes a 26mm round Oyster case, waterproof to 100 meters (330 feet).
Next, there’s the date window on the dial—where the watch takes its name from—at 3 o’clock, along with a Cyclops magnification lens above it for greater legibility. Finally, there’s the COSC-certified automatic mechanical movement powering the watch—no quartz calibers in sight here!
Similar to most Rolex dress watch collections, the ladies’ Date watch was made available in a variety of materials over the years from steel to yellow gold to two-tone steel and yellow gold. Furthermore, bezel options include smooth, fluted, and engine-turned, while dial choices included plenty of classic choices such as champagne, white, black, and others. The ladies’ Date watch was also offered with a choice of a more casual flat Oyster bracelet, a more formal Jubilee bracelet, or an ultra-luxurious solid gold President bracelet.
Four Generations of the Ladies’ Date Watch
From the 1960s until the mid-1970s, Rolex manufactured the ladies’ Date watch with the ref. 65xx reference numbers. These models ran on non-quickset automatic movements, meaning that to set the date, the wearer had to turn the minute and hour hands continuously around the dial to change the date in the window. Moreover, as vintage models, the ladies’ Date ref. 65xx watches also came with acrylic crystals above the dials.
In the mid-1970s, Rolex introduced the Caliber 2035 (the date version of the base Caliber 2030) with increased frequency rates and enhanced reliability over preceding movements. So, to house these new movements, the ladies’ Date watch collection welcomed new Date ref. 69xx models. While the new Caliber 2035 did boast better performance, they were still non-quickset movements.
The mid-1980s saw the biggest changes to the ladies’ Date watches. The then-new ladies’ Date ref. 69xxx models now included scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protecting the face of the watches. Plus, Rolex fitted the ladies’ Date ref. 69xxx watches with the Caliber 2135, offering the super practical quickset date feature. Wearers could now adjust the date independently from the center hands.
Finally, in the late 1990s, Rolex unveiled yet another improved movement, the Caliber 2235 with better precision and durability. As a result, the ladies’ Date collection updated the watches and now carried the ref. 79xxx reference numbers. Rolex eventually discontinued the 26mm ladies’ Date model in the mid-2000s, and the only Date watch still in the brand’s catalog today is the 34mm sized one.
Ranging from as low as $1,700 for a stainless steel vintage ladies’ Date to just over $6,000 for a full yellow gold ladies’ Date model embellished with diamonds, the ladies’ Date watch offers a relatively more affordable way to wear a women’s Rolex dress watch. And who doesn’t love a good deal?