Rolex Datejust 1601/9 'Lapis Lazuli'

This week’s showstopper is among the best we’ve ever had! We’ve bought and sold an unbelievable amount of Day-Dates with stone dials.

Museum Piece
Rolex DatejustIn 1945 Rolex created the flagship Datejust to mark the company’s 40th anniversary.

Introduction

This week’s showstopper is among the best we’ve ever had! We’ve bought and sold an unbelievable amount of Day-Dates with stone dials. We’ve even had some rare Datejusts with stone dials. Some of you might remember the amazing yellow-gold Datejust 1601 with lapis lazuli dial we sold a year ago. But this superlative white-gold 1601 with impeccable lapis dial takes the crown.Before we get to the details of the watch, we have to tell you the background story first. The previous owner of the watch was a successful Dutch businessman. In 1977, he and three of his associates took to a Rolex dealer in Singapore to celebrate having finished an assignment there. The four men settled on matching gold Datejusts with semi-precious stone dials. Three of them opted for the standard yellow-gold option. The fourth gentleman, however, wanted a white-gold Datejust with lapis lazuli dial and a matching white gold President bracelet. His three friends were baffled. Why choose white gold when it’s more expensive than yellow yet looks like steel?This lapis lazuli Datejust is among the rarest precious stone dial Rolex watches as only a handful were ever made in white gold. It is certainly the nicest one we’ve ever seen and we guarantee you that you won’t ever find one like this again. Stone dials are quite fragile and many of them have developed cracks or rips over the years. Therefore, a flawless dial will increase the value greatly. Not only is this dial in impeccable condition, but it is among the most desirable variations of lapis lazuli. In nature, lapis often occurs together with calcite (which shows as white veins in the stone) and pyrite (which look like gold veins). This dial contains barely any calcite deposits and only has some evenly spaced gold-colored pyrite flecks, giving the dial a beautiful solid blue color.The white-gold case is in unbelievable condition with thick lugs and sharp edges. The white-gold President bracelet with hidden clasp is in equally wonderful condition, showing barely any stretch. As this is a first-owner watch, it comes as a full set with original boxes (inner and outer) and punched Rolex papers. Usually we don’t care that much about papers. But this particular one has some cool details as it’s triple punched. Not only are the serial number of the watch and the country code punched in the document, so is the reference number. What is the country code, you ask? It’s “000”. Yes, triple zero. Apparently this code was used in a handful of countries that don’t make use of zip codes, like Singapore.

Description

Rolex DatejustIn 1945 Rolex created the flagship Datejust to mark the company’s 40th anniversary. This model was the world’s first self-winding wristwatch with a date indication. With the Datejust, Rolex also introduced the iconic 5-piece jubilee bracelet, first in solid gold and later in bicolor and stainless steel. On the tenth anniversary of the Datejust in 1955, the magnifying ‘cyclops lens’ was introduced on the Datejust.Reference 16XX (1600, 1601, 1603)The Datejust 16xx series was produced in the 1960s and the 1970s. These affordable and user-friendly Datejusts are the perfect vintage ‘daily beaters’ that can be combined with any outfit and worn on every occasion. The Datejust is usually fitted with a Jubilee bracelet, but the ref. 1600 could also be ordered on an Oyster bracelet. This reference came with a smooth bezel (domed bezel) and was available in either (white, yellow, or rose) gold or in stainless steel. The ref. 1601 came with a fluted bezel in gold and was available with a steel, bicolor, or (white, yellow and rose gold) case and bracelet. The ref. 1603 was only made in steel and featured an engine turned bezel in steel.The dial colors and configurations varied among the 16xx series Datejusts. Characteristic for this era of production is the so-called ‘Pie-Pan’ dial where the dial looks like an upside-down pie-pan (a concentric ring that slopes down from the flat centre).