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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 Cyclops lens, and Jubilee bracelet make this watch an all-time classic.

By Chrono24 Last updated on November 6, 2020

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A Timeless and Elegant Anniversary Watch

Rolex celebrated their 40th anniversary in 1945. To mark the occasion, the Swiss watch manufacturer released the Datejust. At the time, the watch was a sensation; it combined a water-resistant Oyster case with a chronometer-certified automatic caliber. The movement also had a date display at 3 o'clock, which automatically jumped to the next day every night at midnight. Rolex developed a brand new bracelet for this model, namely the Jubilee bracelet. This five-piece link metal bracelet is still around today and is available in stainless steel, gold, or two-tone variations.

The Datejust has been a staple in the Rolex catalog since its debut, making it one of the Genevan manufacturer's oldest models still in production. Over the years, very little has changed about its basic design. With such a long history, it comes as no surprise that the Datejust is among the brand's most comprehensive collections. Rolex has offered this timepiece in all sorts of material and color combinations. What's more, you can choose from a variety of sizes between 28 and 41 mm in diameter, making the Datejust a fantastic option for men and women alike. The Datejust is also available on an Oyster bracelet or a leather strap.

The Datejust enjoys widespread popularity in the worlds of politics, sports, and entertainment. One of the most famous people to ever wear a Datejust was US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Rolex gifted Eisenhower the timepiece in honor of the then-General's leadership during World War II. Other famous Datejust wearers include Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan, and Roger Federer.

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

Reference number Price (approx.) Feature(s)
279166 42,000 USD Platinum case, diamond indices, 28 mm
116238 22,500 USD Yellow gold, diamond indices, 36 mm
126333 14,000 USD Two-tone stainless steel and gold, 41 mm
126300 9,900 USD Stainless steel, 41 mm
279160 7,100 USD Stainless steel, 28 mm

How much does a Datejust cost?

Prices for the Rolex Datejust are as varied as the collection itself. Current stainless steel watches sell for between 7,100 and 9,900 USD, while two-tone models demand anywhere from 11,500 to 14,500 USD. Gold and platinum editions are the most expensive, with prices ranging from 22,500 to 42,000 USD.

Vintage Datejust watches sell for similarly diverse prices. Stainless steel timepieces from the 1970s and 80s are the most affordable at about 3,900 USD. Prices for earlier models from the 40s, 50s, and 60s range from 10,500 to 24,000 USD.

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. A matching Everose gold Oyster bracelet holds the watch securely on the wrist. This Datejust demands about 45,000 USD new and pre-owned pieces are rare.

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 ref. 126233. Its fluted bezel and the middle links of its Oyster 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 baton or diamond indices. Prices depend on the exact edition and range from 13,000 to 17,000 USD.

The Larger Datejust II

Rolex expanded the Datejust line 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 call this watch your own for about 8,900 USD. On the other hand, the two-tone ref. 116333 with a fluted bezel in 18-karat gold costs roughly 13,500 USD in mint condition and 11,000 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. Its prices are similar to those of its predecessor. For example, you can purchase a stainless steel ref. 126300 for around 9,000 USD. There are also two-tone models, which combine stainless steel with yellow, rose, or white gold and feature either a fluted or polished bezel. These watches sell for anywhere between 12,000 and 14,500 USD, depending on the exact model.

In-House Calibers 3135 and 3235

Rolex exclusively outfits every Datejust with an automatic in-house caliber. Each watch has a date display, as did the very first model with the reference number 4467. Today, Rolex uses caliber 3135 in the 36-mm versions, while the 3136 powers the 41-mm Datejust II. The latter features Rolex's Paraflex shock protection system, while the 3135 does not. The system can absorb shocks and jolts 50% better than conventional protection systems. Rolex has been using the caliber 3235 with a 70-hour power reserve in the Datejust 41 since 2016.

A blue Parachrom hairspring made from a patented zirconium-niobium alloy adds to this movement's robustness and precision. It is a part of both calibers and remains unaffected by magnetic fields and temperature fluctuations. Furthermore, it has a so-called "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.

Technological Highlights

  • COSC-certified chronometer
  • 70-hour power reserve with caliber 3235
  • Paraflex shock protection in the calibers 3136 and 3235
  • Newer models with a non-magnetic Parachrom hairspring

The First Datejust Models

The first Datejust with 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 2.5x 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.