For more than half a century, two of Rolex’s flagship watch collections for men – the Day-Date and the Datejust – came with 36mm cases. Then, in the late 2000s, Rolex finally answered the larger men’s dress watch trend by offering bigger versions of both watches. However, the Day-Date II and the Datejust II collections did not last long in the Rolex catalog (less than a decade) and have since been replaced by newer iterations. Let’s dig into the details of the short-lived Rolex Day-Date II and Datejust II collections.
The Rolex Day-Date II
The Day-Date, better known as the Rolex President, made its grand entrance in 1956. Exclusively made in precious metals and featuring a pair of calendar windows on the dial to indicate both the day of the week and the date of the month, Day-Date timepieces quickly went on to become the must-have status watch among elite circles. The watch earned the “President” nickname for two main reasons: its semi-circular link band is called the President bracelet, and the simple fact that the watch is associated with some of history’s most powerful people (yes, including some U.S. presidents).
As a dressy watch, the Day-Date always maintained classic proportions – a size and shape that pairs well with a suit. That all changed in 2008 when Rolex unveiled the beefier Day-Date II lineup with 41mm cases, to sit alongside the classic Day-Date 36 watches.
Rolex made the Day-Date II in four different metals, all fitted with wider Super President bracelets to accommodate the bigger cases. The yellow gold (ref. 218238), white gold (ref. 218239), and Everose gold (ref. 218235) models included fluted bezels while the platinum versions (ref. 218206) sported smooth domed bezels.
Also new to the Rolex President II watches was Caliber 3156, equipped with new Paraflex shock absorbers for improved shock resistance and a blue Parachrom hairspring for more resistance to temperature fluxuations and magnetic fields.
In 2015, Rolex replaced the Day-Date II collection with the slightly smaller and slimed down Day-Date 40 range, complete with the new-generation Caliber 3255 movement that is based around Rolex’s Chronergy escapement, which offers users an increased 70-hour power reserve.
The Rolex Datejust II
Rolex introduced the now-famous Datejust in 1945 as the first automatic wrist chronometer to display a date aperture on the dial. Since then, the Datejust has become Rolex’s signature timepiece, available in a myriad of metals, with a bevy of bracelet and bezel styles, and in select size options. Men’s Datejust watches traditionally had 36mm cases until the launch of the Datejust II in 2009.
Similar to the Day-Date II pieces, the Datejust II watches also had 41mm Oyster cases. However, the only bracelet option available with the bigger Datejust was the Oyster bracelet – an interesting move considering that Rolex created the Jubilee bracelet specifically for the very first Datejust. Material options include the two-tone steel and yellow gold edition with a fluted bezel (ref. 116333), the steel edition with a white gold fluted bezel (ref. 116334), and the full steel edition with a smooth bezel (ref. 116300). It’s also worth mentioning that the latter all-steel model only joined the catalog in 2012, and Rolex never made any Datejust II models in Everose gold.
Movement wise, the Datejust II watches run on the self-winding Caliber 3136, which has a power reserve of 48 hours, a blue Parachrom hairspring, and Paraflex shock absorbers.
At Baselworld 2016, Rolex announced that the Datejust 41 (with the new generation Caliber 3235) would replace the Datejust II collection. Despite their same 41mm measurements, the Datejust 41 cases are thinner and include slimmer lugs. As a result, the newer Datejust 41 watches appear slightly more elegant than the sportier Datejust II models.
Although Rolex no longer produces the Day-Date II and Datejust II watches, these models are still popular in the secondary market – particularly with buyers who want the biggest and sportiest versions of these two iconic Rolex flagship timepieces.