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ROLEX BLOG

Rolex Datejust 116238 – Ultimate Review and Buying Guide

March 30, 2021

BY Paul Altieri

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The Rolex Datejust has a history of being the brand’s sensible, timeless option – beloved for its classic features, reliability, and versatile styling. However, the reference 116238 is different in the best way possible. Outfitted entirely in 18k yellow gold, this Datejust is bold, luxurious, and glitzy. In fact, we’d go so far as to say that the Rolex 116238 is the creme de la creme of the Datejust collection, and it is easily one of the most luxurious iterations of the watch that the brand has ever put forward.

Rolex Datejust Reference 116238

Rolex 116238 Datejust

Datejust 116238 Key Features:

– Production Years: 2004 to 2018

– Case Size: 36mm

– Materials: 18k Yellow Gold

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display

– Dial: Multiple Options Available

– Bezel: Fixed, 18k Yellow Gold, Fluted Style

– Crystal: Sapphire (Flat w/ Cyclops Lens)

– Movement: Rolex Caliber 3135

– Strap/Bracelet: Jubilee Bracelet

– Average Price: $18k to $25k (Pre-Owned)

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Rolex Datejust.

Rolex 116238

Rolex 116238 Datejust 36 18 Karat Yellow Gold

Rolex Datejust 116238 Key Features

The Rolex Datejust reference 116238 is the perfect mix of style and substance. Crafted entirely in 18k yellow gold and fitted with the collection’s signature Jubilee bracelet, the ref. 116238 is a modern interpretation of the original Datejust model that debuted in 1945. Representing a contemporary and luxurious take on a historic classic from Rolex’s archives, the Datejust 116238 is beloved by enthusiasts and sought after by many collectors.

36mm Oyster Case In 18k Yellow Gold

Developed in 1926, Rolex’s famous Oyster case is credited with being the world’s first truly waterproof watch case. Rolex has always used the Oyster case for its Datejust watches, as it provides supreme water-resistance and protection for the movement. This is an incredibly important feature for the Datejust, which is often worn as an everyday timepiece by countless individuals all around the globe.

As for the reference 116238, it features its Oyster case in solid 18k yellow gold. The appeal here is that Rolex is able to pair this luxurious alloy with the durability and security that the Oyster case provides, making this watch a truly exceptional timepiece. It’s also important to note that Rolex’s modern 18k gold alloy is a proprietary blend created inside its own foundry to ensure exceptional durability and extraordinary sheen that lasts for generations.

Finally, the case of the Datejust 116238 measures the classic and highly versatile 36mm. This is the original size of the Datejust and today, it is considered the standard Rolex watch size. The 36mm Datejust case is the most popular because it is so universal – not sitting too big or too small on the wrist, the classic 36mm sizing of the ref. 116238 means that it can easily be worn by both men and women.

Twinlock Winding Crown

The Rolex Datejust ref. 116238 features the modern Twinlock crown, which is a screw-down winding crown that features two sets of O-ring gaskets – one under the crown to push against the case tube to create a wall against outside moisture, the second inside the tube surrounding the winding stem as a second layer of protection.

Rolex 116238 Datejust 36mm 18k Yellow Gold

Classic and Timeless Dial

The dial of the ref. 116238 follows the same classic and timeless design language as the rest of the Datejust collection. The ref. 116238 features more traditional dial colors like white, black, and champagne, which can make it feel even more refined and luxurious. In terms of hour markers, Rolex Datejust 116238 watches can have classic stick indexes, Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, or even diamonds.

Gold Fluted Bezel

A fluted bezel is elegant, elevated, and one of the defining design elements of Rolex watches. The very first Rolex Datejust watches featured fluted bezels, and while Rolex produces countless Datejust watches that do not include this now-signature design feature, a fluted bezel is emblematic of the collection. Even the Rolex clocks that you see in airports have fluted bezels on them, so when it came to the reference 116238, a solid 18k gold fluted bezel is an obvious and highly appropriate choice.

Date Window

The Rolex Datejust was the world’s first self-winding chronometer wristwatch to feature a date mechanism that automatically changed on its dial. But, in the earliest Datejust models, there just wasn’t the technology for the mechanism to change the date instantly at midnight. Instead, these early Datejust models featured a date window that would slowly change to the following day. Then in the 1950s, Rolex released a new mechanism that allowed the date to instantly jump to the new date, right at the stroke of midnight. Today, this date window and its instant change is a defining feature of the Datejust.

Rolex 116238 Datejust Gold 36mm Jubilee Bracelet

Sapphire Crystal With Cyclops Lens

Today, the Cyclops lens is so much a part of the Datejust’s identity that it’s hard to imagine the watch without it. Therefore, it may surprise you to learn that it wasn’t until 1953 that Rolex introduced this feature onto the Datejust. Originally, the Datejust’s crystal (and the bubble-like Cyclops magnification lens that protrudes from the outer surface) was made from acrylic. However, on the modern Datejust ref. 116238, the crystal and its Cyclops lens are both made out of scratch-resistant synthetic sapphire.

Caliber 3135 Automatic Movement

The Rolex Datejust is known for its automatic chronometer-certified movements and the Caliber 3135 inside the reference 116238 is one of the brand’s most famous. Used by Rolex for nearly 30 years, this movement was powerful, reliable, and accurate. Besides being used in the Datejust, Rolex trusted this movement for the Submariner Date, Sea-Dweller, Deepsea, Date, Yacht-Master 40.

The Caliber 3135 used inside the ref. 116238 is an in-house manufactured, COSC chronometer-certified movement that operates at a frequency of 28,800bph with a respectable 48-hour power reserve. Other notable features of this movement include its ‘hacking seconds’ (when the second hand comes to a complete stop when the crown is pulled out), and ‘Quickset’ functionality, which allows the date to be changed without disturbing the timekeeping hands and messing up the time.

Buying a Rolex Datejust 116238

Produced by Rolex from approximately 2004 to 2018, the Datejust 116238 is discontinued and no longer available at a retail level. However, this modern Datejust reference can still be found on the pre-owned market, and it is now highly desirable as it holds the distinction of being the last solid gold Datejust watch that Rolex ever produced. Additionally, since this model was only discontinued several years ago, buying a pre-owned example usually means that it’s likely to be in very good condition with minimal wear.

Rolex 116238 Datejust 36 Yellow Gold

Rolex Datejust 116238 Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 116238?

The 116238 is a specific reference number of the Rolex Datejust collection. This reference number corresponds to the 36mm version of the Datejust in solid 18k yellow gold with a fluted bezel that was manufactured between 2004 and 2018.

When was the Datejust 116238 produced?

The Datejust 116238 was produced by Rolex between 2004 and 2018 and is known for its full 18k yellow gold construction, along with the powerhouse Caliber 3135 that powered it.

Do Rolex Datejust watches hold their value?

Yes. The Datejust is the most popular Rolex watch ever made. This model is worn by businessmen and celebrities alike because of its universal appeal, reliability, and timeless design. The Datejust 116238 is going to hold value particularly well because it is forged out of solid 18k gold.

Can you wear a Rolex Datejust every day?

Absolutely, and you should! The Rolex Datejust features a waterproof Oyster case that makes it incredibly durable and suitable for everyday wear and use. The automatic Caliber 3135 inside gets its power from the natural motion of your arm, meaning that as long as you keep wearing your Datejust, you won’t ever need to wind your watch.

Rolex 116238 Datejust 36mm Yellow Gold Jubilee Bracelet

How much is the Datejust 116238 worth?

Today, the Datejust 116238 is usually worth between $18,000 and $25,000 on the open market. Due to a large amount of gold in its case and bracelet, the reference 116238 is one of the most expensive and luxurious standard-production Datejust watches, and its collectibility as the last solid gold Datejust watch means that there are a number of buyers looking to add it to their permanent collections.

What is the price of a Datejust 116238?

The price of a Datejust 116238 can be anywhere between $18,000 and $25,000 when purchased on the pre-owned market. The price varies depending on its dial style and overall condition. While all Datejust 116238 watches feature solid 18k yellow gold cases, fluted bezels, and Jubilee bracelets, the style of the dial (along with the condition of the watch and whether or not it still has its original box and papers) can influence the price by up to several thousand dollars.

How can I buy a Datejust 116238?

The Datejust 116238 is no longer made by Rolex, so you cannot buy it at a retail level from a boutique or authorized dealer. The only way to purchase a ref. 116238 is on the secondary market, and the safest and most secure way is through a trusted and reputable seller who can offer you protections like a warranty and a lifetime authenticity guarantee.

How can you tell if a Rolex Datejust is real?

Rolex watches are one of the most counterfeited products in the world. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fakes out there and people who are happy to sell them to you. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Rolex watches are regarded as some of the finest luxury timepieces on earth and the quality of any Datejust you are trying to authenticate should be consistent with the brand’s sterling reputation. A Rolex Datejust is a multi-thousand dollar watch and it should both look and feel like one.

Rolex Datejust 116238 Review and Buying Guide

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2 Responses to “Rolex Datejust 116238 – Ultimate Review and Buying Guide”

  1. Bill Williams says:

    Hi,

    I bought the following Datejust (information shown below) from your site last year. In this blog, you say the yellow gold model 116238 was produced between 2011-2018 but in the description of the watch I bought you say the “serial/year: M 2007-2008” So I am confused, is the watch I bought different from the ones you describe in this blog?

    Thank you,
    Bill Williams

    Brand: Rolex
    Item Number: 127697
    Condition: (What’s This?) Excellent
    Model Name/Number: Datejust 116238
    Serial/Year: M 2007 – 2008
    Gender: Men’s
    Movement: Automatic 3135
    Case: 18k yellow gold (36mm), inner reflector ring engraved
    with serial number
    Dial: Champagne w/ luminescent hands and Index markers w/
    black chapter ring
    Bracelet: 18k yellow gold Jubilee w/ hidden Crownclasp
    Box & Papers: Bob’s presentation box, Certificate of Authenticity, and
    warranty card
    Warranty: This pre-owned Rolex comes with Bob’s Watches one
    year warranty
    Return Policy: If not 100% satisfied, return watch in 3 days for a full
    refund. Terms.

    • Paul Altieri says:

      That would be a typo on our end – good catch! The ref. 116238 Datejust first arrived in approximately 2004 when the Datejust received a case design to feature thicker lugs. At this time, it was still customary for Rolex to first introduce a new generation update with the precious metal models being in that first generational update (in the same way that the Super Case on the Submariner and GMT-Master II first debuted on the solid gold models before making its way over to the stainless steel references), and the case for the Datejust was updated in the mid-2000s, with the ref. 116238 appearing during that time.

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