While new Rolex releases grab the headlines, it can also be useful to know what models have been dropped from the current collection. For example, the Rolex Date – which had been a mainstay of the brand’s catalog since the 1950s – is now officially discontinued.
The Oyster Perpetual Date, better known as the Rolex Date, was often overshadowed by its larger and more famous relative – the Datejust. However, that smaller case size is a sweet spot for many watch wearers and we do not doubt that the Rolex Date will continue to be a popular option on the pre-owned market, despite its now-discontinued status. With that in mind, let’s dive into our ultimate buying guide to the Rolex Date and discover everything that this model has to offer.
Table of Contents:
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date
Rolex Date Key Features:
– Production Years: 1950s – 2021
– Case Size: 34mm
– Materials: Stainless Steel; Stainless Steel & Gold, Solid Gold
– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display
– Bezel: Fixed, Stainless Steel or Gold, Fluted/Smooth/Engine Turned Style
– Dial: Multiple Options Available
– Lume: Tritium, Luminova, Super-LumiNova, or Chromalight
– Crystal: Acrylic or Sapphire w/ Cyclops Lens
– Movement: Rolex Caliber 3135, 3035, 1575, 1565, 1035
– Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet; 50 Meters / 165 Feet (Vintage References)
– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee Bracelet; Leather Strap (Vintage References)
Rolex Date – A Brief History
About a decade following the 1945 debut of the 36mm Oyster Perpetual Datejust, Rolex introduced the Oyster Perpetual Date with a slighter smaller case that measured 34mm. Measurements aside, the Rolex Date has always shared an almost identical look to the Datejust including the dial layout, case materials, bracelet options, bezel styles, and Cyclops magnification lens above the date window at 3 o’clock.
As with all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Date has undergone several different material and mechanical updates over its six-plus decades of production. Additionally, there’s also the Lady-Date collection with petite 26mm cases. While the Lady-Date line was dropped from the Rolex collection in the mid-2000s the Date 34 remained for several extra years until it was ultimately discontinued in 2021.
Rolex Date 34 Models and Features
From the 1950s until just recently, Rolex had made five generations of the Oyster Perpetual Date watch, each characterized by its own set of feature updates. Regardless of the generation, Rolex Date watches featured 34mm water-resistant Oyster cases with screw-down winding crowns and automatic Perpetual movements inside them. Plus, as the name suggests, the watches include a dial with a date window at 3 o’clock, complete with a Cyclops magnification lens on the crystal above it.
Rolex Date 1152xx Series
The most modern of the Rolex Date series, the six-digit Date 1152xx family made its debut in 2005. As a result, these references featured all the bells and whistles of contemporary Rolex watches such as:
– Case water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet)
– Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal
– Chromalight luminescence
– Oyster bracelet with solid end links and folding Oysterclasp with Easylink 5mm extension
– COSC-certified Caliber 3135 movement with 48-hour power reserve
By this point in time, Rolex no longer made solid gold or two-toned editions, and the most luxury-oriented option was the White Rolesor model that featured a fluted bezel in 18k white gold. Originally, Rolex had made three versions of the Date 1152xx:
– Date ref. 115200: Steel case with a smooth steel bezel
– Date ref. 115234: Steel case with a fluted white gold bezel. Diamond-set dial option.
– Date ref. 115210: Steel case with an engine-turned steel bezel
However, the engine-turned bezel ref. 115210 variant was discontinued after only a few years of being in production, while Rolex discontinued the two remaining references in 2021.
Rolex Date 152xx Series
The five-digit Date 152xx series was in production from about 1989 to 2005. Therefore, depending on the year of production for a Rolex Date from this generation, it can either have tritium, Luminova (from 1997), or Super-LumiNova (from 2000) on its dial. Other defining features include:
– Case water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet)
– Sapphire crystal
– Oyster bracelet
Rolex made quite a few case material and bezel style options available within the 152xx series of the Date.
– Date ref. 15200: Steel case with a smooth steel bezel
– Date ref. 15210: Steel case with an engine-turned steel bezel
– Date ref. 15203: Steel and yellow gold case with smooth yellow gold bezel
– Date ref. 15223: Steel and yellow gold case with a fluted yellow gold bezel. Diamond-set dial option.
– Date ref. 15238: Yellow gold case with a fluted yellow gold bezel. Diamond-set dial option. Jubilee bracelet option.
Rolex Date 150xx Series
Rolex manufactured the five-digit Date 150xx series throughout the 1980s with materials customary to that era including acrylic crystals and tritium lume. The Date 150xx series watches run on Caliber 3035 movements, tucked inside cases that are water-resistant to 100-meter deep.
The main references of this particular generation are as follows:
– Date ref. 15000: Steel case with smooth steel bezel
– Date ref. 15010: Steel case with engine-turned steel bezel with polished details at hours
– Date ref. 15053: Steel and yellow gold case with fluted yellow gold bezel
– Date ref. 15037: 14k yellow gold case with fluted yellow gold bezel
– Date ref. 15038: 18k yellow gold case with fluted yellow gold bezel
– Date ref. 15148/0: 18k yellow gold case with hammered yellow gold bezel
Rolex Date 15xx Series
Rolex produced the four-digit Date 15xx series from about 1960 until the end of the 1970s. Rolex Date watches from this era have cases that are water-resistant to 50 meters topped with acrylic crystals. Inside the watches are either the Caliber 1565 or Cal. 1575 and the dials are furnished with tritium luminous paint. Rolex offered most of the following references with the choice of a leather strap or Oyster bracelet and the gold and two-tone models also came with the option of a matching Jubilee bracelet.
– Date ref. 1500/0: Steel case with smooth steel bezel
– Date ref. 1500/3: Steel and 14k yellow gold case with smooth 14k yellow gold bezel
– Date ref. 1500/7: 14k yellow gold case with smooth 14k yellow gold bezel
– Date ref. 1501/0: Steel case with engine-turned steel bezel with polished details at hours
– Date ref. 1501/7: 14k yellow gold case with engine-turned 14k yellow gold bezel with polished details at hours
– Date ref. 1503/7: 14k yellow gold case with fluted 14k yellow gold bezel
– Date ref. 1550/5: Yellow gold shell case with smooth yellow gold shell bezel
– Date ref. 1530/0: Stainless steel angular case with smooth steel bezel and integrated bracelet
The Rolex Date ref. 1530 is a particularly interesting variant as it combines the angular silhouette and integrated bracelet of Rolex Oysterquartz watches (which would later follow in 1977) but this unique edition of the Rolex Date is fitted with a mechanical movement.
Rolex Date 653x Series
The earliest generation of the Rolex Date, the 653x references were made from the mid-1950s until the end of the decade. Given their early manufacturing period, their luminous dials include radium paint, their crystals are fashioned from acrylic, and the movements inside them are typically the Caliber 1035. Some notable references from this vintage Date series include the ref. 6530, 6535, and 6534 in stainless steel, and the reference 6537 in gold.
Along with the 34mm Date model, Rolex also made the Lady-Date in a 26mm case with an identical dial layout and Cyclops lens fitted to the crystal. Furthermore, material and bezel options were similar with steel, two-tone gold/steel, and full gold cases paired with various bezels that include smooth, engine-turned, and fluted. One notable difference is that almost all Lady-Date watches came with a choice of an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet, not just the gold and two-tone models.
The last series of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Lady-Date was the five-digit 79xxx family (launched in 1999 and discontinued in the mid-2000s) with 100-meters water resistance, sapphire crystals, and Caliber 2235 movements. Below are some of the main references from this generation:
– Lady-Date ref. 79160: Steel case with smooth steel bezel
– Lady-Date ref. 79190: Steel case with engine-turned steel bezel with polished details at hours
– Lady-Date ref. 79240: Steel case with engine-turned steel bezel. Oyster or Jubilee
Prior to that generation, Rolex made the Lady-Date 69xxx series, also fitted with sapphire crystals but depending on the year of production, these watched can have either 50-meter or 100-meter depth ratings.
– Lady-Date ref. 69160: Steel case with smooth steel bezel
– Lady-Date ref. 69190: Steel case with engine-turned steel bezel with polished details at hours
– Lady-Date ref. 69240: Steel case with engine-turned steel bezel
– Lady-Date ref. 69163: Steel and yellow gold case with smooth yellow gold bezel
– Lady-Date ref. 69173: Steel and yellow gold case with fluted yellow gold bezel
– Lady-Date ref. 69174: Steel case with fluted white gold bezel
– Lady-Date ref. 69008: 18k Yellow gold case with Florentine finish
There were also several older generations of the Rolex Lady-Date made before the 69xxx series and these vintage versions, such as the Lady-Date ref. 6916, have acrylic crystals, tritium lume, and are available in a wide assortment of case materials and bezel styles.
Rolex Date Price
Since the Rolex Date is both smaller and not as famous as the legendary Datejust, it is also generally more affordable. As mentioned, Rolex has recently discontinued the Oyster Perpetual Date but the last published manufacturer suggested retail prices (MSRP) were as follows:
– Rolex Date ref. 115200: $6,500
– Rolex Date ref. 115234: $7,650
– Rolex Date ref. 115234 w/ diamond dial: $8,550
Likewise, pre-owned Rolex Date watches are relatively inexpensive when compared to other models. For instance, prices for a pre-owned Date ref: 115200 can start at less than $5,000, while a pre-owned Date ref. 115234 starts at just above $6,000.
Older generations of the Rolex Date are typically even less expensive and even full gold versions, such as a pre-owned vintage Date ref. 1503 and ref. 15037, can sometimes be had for less than $10,000.
The Discontinued Rolex Date
Now that Rolex has discontinued the Rolex Date 34, there is no longer a current option for a stainless steel 34mm Rolex watch with a date window. Size-wise, there’s the Oyster Perpetual 34 but that’s a three-hander with no date display. In terms of function, the two closest options are the Datejust 31 and the Datejust 36. There is also the Pearlmaster 34, but those watches are exclusively available in solid 18k gold and even the most humble versions are still set with diamonds, thus making them a rather niche (and expensive) offering.
Why Rolex has chosen to let go of the Date 34 rather than update it with a new-generation movement like most of its other models remains (as everything else the company does) a mystery. Additionally, the fact that the Date was called the “Date” rather than simply being another size option of the Datejust also remains a mystery, but it was a trend that continued for the entire production run of the model.
Thankfully, the Rolex Date 34 will still be available on the secondary market for those looking to buy a classic and restrained Rolex watch with an incredibly versatile case diameter. If you feel that the classic 36mm Datejust is too large for your wrist, while the midsize 31mm model is just a bit too small, then the now-discontinued 34mm Rolex Date just might be the perfect watch for you.