Comparing the Datejust (now called the Datejust 36) and the Datejust II is a lot like comparing Pepsi and Coke.
Pepsi and Coke are both colas. Their flavors are similar to each other. One statistically appeals to an older, more conservative crowd, the other to a more youthful, liberal group. One’s been around forever while the other is a young upstart by comparison.
And yet, the two are distinctive.
And so it is with the two Datejusts (we’ll leave out the newly announced Datejust 41 for now).
Let’s talk about the differences.Datejust I vs Datejust II
Datejust I vs Datejust II
First the similarities. At first glance at a wrist across a room, one could be mistaken for the other. However, the two-tone Datejust is 36mm, and the Datejust II is 5mm larger at 41mm.
Keeping the design harmonious with that 14% size difference causes a change in proportions between the two. The Datejust’s overall design of course, has been nearly static for well over half a century (it was introduced in 1945). When Rolex’s designers decided to extrapolate the design out to 41mm for the Datejust II in 2009, the most noticeable change was the wider bezel.
Rolex designers kept the 20mm bracelet width too, so the lugs are slightly thicker on the Datejust II. These thicker lugs aren’t as noticeable as the bezel, but they still contribute to the overall difference in proportions between the two models.
Rolex Datejust 16233 with Ivory Jubilee Dial with thicker lugs that aren’t as noticeable as the bezel.
Both watches are available with either fluted or smooth bezels. Beyond that, there’s an incredible assortment of features for each. There are countless combinations of metals, dial designs and finishes, bezels, and bracelets.
The Datejust 36 is available with either the venerable Jubilee bracelet, which was developed for the original launch of the Datejust in 1945 or the Oyster bracelet with an Oysterclasp and the brand’s exclusive Easylink comfort extension link. Straps are also an option with certain feature combinations.
By contrast, the Datejust II is only offered with the Oyster bracelet and Oysterclasp, no matter which other options are chosen.
The Datejust is available in 904L steel, yellow or Everose gold, and two-tone (steel and white, yellow, or Everose gold) combinations, while the Datejust II is a steel or steel and gold two-tone proposition.
Rolex Datejust 2 Watches and its variants.
The differences between the two models aren’t only skin deep. The Datejust sports a calibre 3135 under the dial while the Datejust II has the updated calibre 3136. Both are COSC certified chronometer movements featuring Rolex’s Parachrom hairspring, but the 3136 also has high performance Paraflex shock absorbers. Rolex claims these shock absorbers offer greater resistance to shock and other extreme conditions.
Both the 3135 and the 3136 are solid movements carrying Rolex’s newly redefined Superlative Chronometer designation. The new definition means both movements run -2/+2 seconds per day after the movement has been mounted in the watch case. That’s better than twice as precise as the OSC certification’s -4/+6 seconds per day.
If you’re a bit confused after reading through all that, not to worry. To see all the permutations of the Datejust and Datejust II, simply go to the Datejust page on the Rolex website and you’ll see. Additional option combinations keep just keep on loading as you scroll down the page. I never did get to the end.