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Rolex Datejust: A Classic for Every Occasion
The Rolex Datejust has been captivating audiences with its sporty elegance for decades. Its simple design, trademark date with a Cyclops lens, and Jubilee bracelet make this watch an all-time classic.
A Timeless and Elegant Dress Watch
Not only has the Datejust gone the distance in the Rolex portfolio, it's also the Swiss manufacturer's most extensive collection. The Datejust was one of the first dress watches to exude a sporty flair. The timepiece wows the crowd with its simple, functional three-hand design, classic Rolex Oyster case, and the date window with a Cyclops lens at 3 o'clock. You have some options when it comes to the configuration, and while purists lean toward models with a fluted bezel and Jubilee bracelet, Rolex also offers the Datejust with a domed or diamond-set bezel. You can also swap the Jubilee for an Oyster, or President bracelet.
The Datejust collection comes in different sizes, with the unisex and men's models having diameters between 31 mm and 41 mm. The Lady-Datejust, as the name suggests, is principally a women's watch and slightly smaller at 28 mm. You can choose from stainless steel, white, yellow, or rose gold (called Everose gold), or different two-tone variations for the case material.
As for the dials, in addition to countless color variations, you can take your pick of versions with traditional baton indices, Roman numerals, or diamond hour markers. Rolex recently added dials with intricate patterns to their repertoire in 2021, namely the palm and fluted motifs. The latter is inspired by the fluted dial featured on many Datejust models. These patterned dials were obviously a hit, since Rolex added models with a floral motif just one year later in 2022. The center of each small flower is punctuated with a diamond.
With all these options, you might be wondering if there's anything that these Rolex Datejust models have in common. And there is: Each model has been fitted with a chronometer-certified, in-house caliber with an automatic movement since the launch of the collection in 1945.
The Datejust is a hugely popular Rolex model, and demand is unyielding. That being said, it comes as no surprise that prices are steadily rising, as is the case with just about every Rolex timepiece. But let's not forget that this makes them an interesting investment.
Reasons to Buy a Rolex Datejust
- A timeless and iconic dress watch
- Automatic in-house caliber with a date display
- Certified chronometer
- Highly sought-after vintage models
- A wide range of designs
Prices at a Glance: Rolex Datejust
|Datejust reference number||Price (approx.)||Material, size, bezel|
|278285RBR||48,500 USD||Rose gold, 31 mm, diamond set|
|278278||39,000 USD||Yellow gold, 31 mm, fluted|
|279178||28,000 USD||Yellow gold, 28 mm, fluted|
|126233||20,000 USD||Two-tone, 36 mm, fluted|
|126333||16,500 USD||Two-tone, 41 mm, fluted|
|126200-0020||14,000 USD||Stainless steel, 38 mm, polished|
|278274-0018||12,500 USD||Stainless steel and white gold, 31 mm, fluted|
|116300||11,000 USD||Stainless steel, 41 mm, polished|
|279163||9,500 USD||Two-tone, 28 mm, polished|
|6305||7,000 USD||Yellow gold, 36 mm, fluted|
|1603||5,200 USD||Stainless steel and white gold, 36 mm, fluted|
|69174||4,200 USD||Stainless steel and white gold, 28 mm, fluted|
How much does a Datejust cost?
Prices for a Datejust vary just as much as the collection itself, landing anywhere between 4,000 USD and around 37,000 USD. Deciding factors include the watch's material, size, and production period.
Current stainless steel models sell for between 8,200 USD and 12,500 USD, with two-tone timepieces coming in slightly more expensive at around 9,400 USD to 18,000 USD. However, if you're interested in a gold watch or a model with a diamond-set dial or bezel, expect to pay between 21,500 USD and 37,000 USD. Watches from the Lady-Datejust collection have the heftiest price tag at over 100,000 USD, although not without reason: The dial, case, bezel, and bracelet on these timepieces are adorned with diamonds.
Vintage Datejust watches sell for similarly diverse prices. Well-maintained stainless steel timepieces from the 1970s and 80s are the most affordable, starting at about 4,100 USD. Prices for earlier models from the 40s, 50s, and 60s range from 6,300 USD for stainless steel to 21,000 USD for a gold watch.
Taking a general view of the overall collection, we can see that prices for Datejust watches have increased significantly in recent years. In fact, most models have appreciated between 25% and 45% between May 2020 and May 2022, a mere two years. Some particularly coveted references even experienced an increase of more than 65%. It's plain to see that a Rolex Datejust is more than an eye-catching accessory; it also has the potential to be a profitable investment.
A Variety of Designs
When browsing that Datejust collection, you will find a myriad of different design options. Discerning women are sure to enjoy the ref. 278285RBR. Rolex crafts this 31-mm timepiece out of their proprietary rose gold alloy, Everose gold. Individually set brilliant-cut diamonds adorn the bezel and dial, which is available in various colors, such as blue, brown, and light pink. A matching Everose gold Oyster bracelet holds the watch securely on the wrist. This Datejust demands between 41,000 USD and 48,000 USD depending on the model.
For something simpler yet equally elegant, there are two-tone models in stainless steel and 18-karat gold. Rolex has been referring to their two-tone watches as "Rolesor" since the mid-1930s. One example of a current model with a classic design is the 36-mm ref. 126233. Its fluted bezel and the middle links of its bracelet are both made of 18-karat yellow gold, while its case and outer bracelet links are stainless steel. The silver dial has a beautiful sunburst pattern and features yellow gold Roman numerals. You will also find versions with a gold, black, white, green, or mother-of-pearl dial as well as with baton or diamond indices. Prices depend on the exact edition and range from 14,100 to 20,000 USD.
The design options for the Datejust were revamped in 2021. Rolex added colorful dials to the lineup, ranging from olive green to silver, blue, and gold, along with two new dial motifs, namely the fluted and palm motif. The palm dial takes its inspiration from tropical rainforests, while the fluted dial imitates the fluted bezel featured on many Datejust models.
The palm-motif dial is exclusive to 36-mm Datejust models. Expect to pay around 14,000 USD for one of these stainless steel timepieces with a smooth bezel, and up to approximately 22,000 USD for a two-tone model with a diamond-set bezel. Datejust models featuring the fluted motif, on the other hand, are produced in two sizes, 36 mm and 41 mm. Depending on the size and material – stainless steel, two-tone, or diamond-set – you should plan to spend between 10,500 USD and 20,000 USD for one of these Rolex watches.
The Swiss giant revealed yet another dial option for the Datejust in spring of 2022. This time, a floral motif featuring several small blossoms, each of which are embellished with a diamond in the center. To date, the silver, blue, and green dials can only be found on the Datejust 31, which comes in different materials. You can choose between Rolesor White, i.e., a mix of stainless steel and white gold, a two-tone mix of steel and pink or yellow gold, or solid gold. What's more, you can stud the timepiece with diamonds. Depending on which model you're interested in, list prices can fall anywhere between 10,000 USD and 43,000 USD. As of publication in May 2022, timepieces with this dial were a rare find on Chrono24.
If the floral dial doesn't strike your fancy, the Datejust 31 has much more to offer. Check out the Rolesor White model released in 2020, which can be outfitted with either a fluted bezel (ref. 278274) or a polished bezel (ref. 278240). Those looking for a more elegant timepiece are sure to be impressed by the diamond-set dial of ref. 278384RBR. On top of the many bezels, you can also choose from a myriad of dial designs and, for the band, decide between the traditional Jubilee strap or the Oyster strap for a more sporty flair. A Datejust 31 Rolesor White will you set you back between 8,400 USD and 19,500 USD, depending on the exact configuration.
The Larger Datejust II
Rolex expanded the Datejust line back in 2009 with a 41-mm version dubbed the Datejust II. Other than its larger case, the Datejust II shares all the details that made the 36-mm original so successful. In fact, Rolex developed a new caliber specifically for this watch to make sure the proportions were just right. The caliber 3136 has a larger base plate, a 48-hour power reserve, and chronometer certification from the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). The Datejust II is only available on an Oyster bracelet. Before retiring this model in 2016, Rolex offered it with various dial options and as a stainless steel or two-tone watch.
The ref. 116300 is a stainless steel Datejust II with a polished bezel. You can get your hands on one of these pre-owned watches for around 10,500 USD, and around 13,000 USD for one in mint condition. On the other hand, the two-tone ref. 116333 with a fluted bezel in 18-karat gold costs roughly 17,000 USD in mint condition and 14,000 USD used.
Datejust 41: A New Caliber
In 2016, Rolex replaced the Datejust II with the Datejust 41. While the newer watch is the same size, it uses the caliber 3235 and is available on a Jubilee or an Oyster bracelet. You can purchase a new stainless steel ref. 126300 for around 12,500 USD. There are also two-tone models, which combine stainless steel with yellow, Everose, or white gold and feature either a fluted or polished bezel. These watches sell for anywhere between 16,000 and 17,500 USD, depending on the exact model.
In-House Calibers 3135 and 3235
Datejust models are exclusively powered by automatic, in-house calibers from Rolex with a date display, as was the very first model with the reference number 4467. Rolex fitted the Datejust 36 with the caliber 3135 until 2020, when it passed the baton to the caliber 3235. This movement, which is equipped with Rolex's proprietary Chronergy escapement and has a 70-hour power reserve, made its debut in 2016 and can be found inside the Datejust 41 to this day.
It goes without saying that the 3235 is a very robust, reliable caliber, and the blue Parachrom hairspring, made from a patented zirconium-niobium alloy, is one of the reasons why. It remains unaffected by magnetic fields and temperature fluctuations. Furthermore, it has a "Breguet balance spring," or an upraised final coil, which reduces its curvature and allows the spring to breathe better. This also increases the movement's accuracy. Fine regulation occurs via the typical Rolex Microstella nuts. Using a special tool, you can regulate the watch without disassembling it. Like every Rolex watch, the Datejust is COSC-certified.
- COSC-certified chronometer
- 70-hour power reserve with caliber 3235
- Paraflex shock protection with caliber 3235
- Newer models with a non-magnetic Parachrom hairspring
The First Datejust Models
The first Datejust with the reference number 4467 was available solely in yellow gold with a matching Jubilee bracelet. It did not yet feature the characteristic Cyclops lens, which magnifies the date display by a factor of 2.5, and first appeared in the mid-1950s. The term "Cyclops lens" comes from this component's resemblance to the one-eyed creature from Greek mythology.
The first Datejust's dial was cream colored and had gold indices. The date window was, and still is, at 3 o'clock. The display uses red and black numbers to represent even and odd days, respectively. Below the index at 12 o'clock, there's an inscription that reads "Rolex Oyster Perpetual," while another inscription at 6 o'clock reads "Officially Certified Chronometer." The "Datejust" inscription first began appearing sporadically on the dials of reference numbers 5030 and 5031. With reference numbers 6074 and 6075, it became an established feature on the dial. As for the bezel, Rolex's designers chose gold with a fluted finish.
Rolex on the Wrists of Presidents
Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower wore an 18-karat gold Datejust. You can see the watch, a ref. 6305, sitting prominently on his wrist on the cover of Life Magazine from July 21, 1952. Eisenhower was the first American president to wear a Rolex watch. He received it as a gift from Rolex on the occasion of their 150,000th chronometer and in honor of his efforts in World War II. The company had previously celebrated their 50,000th chronometer by giving a watch to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany, also received a Datejust from Hans Wilsdorf himself.
Eisenhower's model was specially customized. Its case back is engraved with his initials (DDE), the date (12-19-1950), as well as five stars symbolizing his rank as a five-star general in the US army. His initials also appear on the bracelet's clasp.
Other prominent figures seen wearing a Datejust include Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, and the Dalai Lama.