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1953 Rolex Datejust Two-Tone Red "Ovettone" ref. 6104

Considered one of the most iconic and recognizable timepieces of all time, the Rolex Datejust is often the first model that comes to mind whenever someone thinks of a classic luxury watch.

In our latest episode of What Is On My Wrist, Craft + Tailored’s CEO Cameron Barr digs into a stunning two-tone Rolex Datejust ref. 6104 from 1953 that comes complete with all of its original paperwork, and breaks own each one of the unique features that make this particular Datejust so special and separates it from subsequent editions of the brand’s legendary calendar wristwatch.

First introduced in 1945 and remaining a perpetual presence in the Rolex catalog ever since, the Datejust is an icon. As the first timepiece to display the date with an automatically changing window in its dial, the Datejust revolutionized the way that a calendar complication on a wristwatch should function, and it also holds the distinction of being Rolex’s best-selling watch of all time. Despite remaining in continuous production, the Datejust has evolved and changed frequently over the years. The very earliest examples, such as this reference 6104 which dates to 1953, are significantly different watches than the common Rolex Datejusts like the ref. 1601 that are familiar to most people. In fact, up until the 1950s, the “Datejust” name itself didn’t even appear on the watches, and once Rolex finally did start to include it, the model name was inscribed in red letters similar to the very first Submariner Date and Sea-Dweller watches.

In addition to the red Datejust text, this two-tone reference 6104 also features both a dial and case that are entirely emblematic of early Datejust watches. The “Ovettone” nickname (which roughly translates to “big egg”) refers to the model’s protruding, curved case-back – a necessary design touch that was required to accommodate Rolex’s early self-winding system. Combined with the Datejust 6104’s curved acrylic crystal, the overall shape is somewhat reminiscent of an egg. However, with a case diameter of 36mm, the ref. 6104 is also larger than the traditional “Bubble Back” Oyster Perpetual references (hence its “big egg” nickname). Unlike modern Datejust dials, the dial fitted to this particular reference 6104 features raised, arrow-shaped markers, an elongated coronet insignia, and a matte white surface that has developed a warm “tropical” patina over the years. 

While this 1953 Rolex Datejust ref. 6104 is a beautiful timepiece and boasts a number of features that set it apart from subsequent versions of the brand’s famous calendar watch, what is arguably the most impressive thing about this particular example is that it is still accompanied by all of its original paperwork – including its chronometer certificate, early Rolex service documentation, vintage booklets, and a rare Rolex leather card wallet. The fact that this watch is almost seventy years old and still retains its original components such as its red text dial and matching red calendar wheel is already impressive. However, when you consider that this example even still has its old service records, it takes on an entirely new level of collectibility and allows it to serve as a time capsule from the mid-1950s that recalls the golden era of the mechanical wristwatch. 

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