Where watches are concerned, the Rolex Datejust Superlative Chronometer replica watch is perhaps the most convincing example. With its first iteration released in 1945 to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary, the core design of the Datejust has barely changed over the seven decades it’s been in continuous production. And the reason for that is simple: they got it right first time.
In the same way that you immediately picture a 911 when you hear the name Porsche, for many people, the Datejust is Rolex. Remove all the name badges and branding, and the two are still unmistakeable.
There haven’t been many over the years, but there are a small handful of designs that were pretty much nailed right out of the gate, leaving very little to be done with them over the subsequent decades, bar delicate tweaks and subtle improvements.
They are the ones that have stood the test and ravages of time and transcended anything as ephemeral or subjective as fashion.
But personally, I think the luxury fake Rolex Datejust 36mm ref 116234 has the most versatility. It has an understated modesty I like, while still being tough enough to handle anything.
The one other design, from any arena, that immediately springs to my mind that has stayed so true to its roots is from the automobile world, in the shape of the Porsche 911—and the two share certain parallels.
Both are masterpieces of understatement and restraint. Both can be used every day, both look comfortable anywhere, and they have become so iconic that they’re embedded in the subconscious.
I admit it doesn’t have the additional features that have made the sports models the world-leaders they are. It doesn’t have the Sea Dweller’s helium escape valve for instance. That’s ok. I don’t do a whole lot of commercial oilrig diving.
Realistically, the 100 meters of waterproofing provided by the Datejust’s Oyster case is all I’ll ever need.
Is the high-end replica Rolex Datejust 36mm ref 116234 the only watch you’ll ever need? Well, that’s up for debate.