At first glance, it’s hard not to think of a Datejust when looking at the Rolex 1625 Turn-o-Graph. After all, the dressy dial, thin stick hands, applied rectangular markers and Cyclops over the date window are pure giveaways. Of course, the word “Datejust” on the dial seals the deal as well. It’s a funny thing because I’d wager that most think of a Datejust and the fluted bezel comes to mind. So, perhaps it’s this adder of the rotating bezel that comes off as a little incongruous to some because they’re so used to seeing something else in its place when paired with such a dial. That being said, the bezel is worth a closer look.
Let’s get into a little bit of history (for more, head here to this more extensive article). The original Turn-o-Graph was introduced in 1953 and the 6202 that appeared looked an awful lot like the Submariner that was still to come. It featured a black inlay rotating bezel and was offered with either a black or white honeycomb dial. With its introduction, it was actually the brand’s first production model with a rotating bezel. These models are scarce and rather expensive as they were only made for roughly a year until being replaced by the 6309 reference. Notably, the 6309 introduced a gold metal bezel, a trait that stayed with the model until it ceased production in 2011. At this time, it also became an official sub-model within the Datejust line. Also, during the 6309’s production, the watch became the official watch of the US Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team and took with it the “Thunderbird” nickname that was often used in American Rolex advertising. In roughly 1959, though, the Rolex 1625 Turn-o-Graph was introduced and it was produced until 1977.
When viewed up close, it’s actually a gorgeous piece of finishing that’s often tainted by wear or, somewhat offputtingly, by dirt and grime. The whole thing is cast as one piece in 18-karat gold and, therefore, the numbers are in relief at the tens along with the stick markers at the 5’s. In between, there’s fine ridging that almost makes the whole thing so bright that it’s truly difficult for the eye to take in at once. Yes, there’s that much lighting contrast. Plus, all of these topographic features become collectors of daily detritus and make themselves accessible to dents and dings. This example, as you can see, is really in lovely shape.