Owning a Rolex timepiece is a big investment, so you might be conflicted about which model to get. There are plenty of iconic watches in their catalog, but you’ve finally narrowed it down to two choices: the Rolex Datejust and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual. Which one should you pick?
Bob’s Watches is your trusted authority in all things Rolex. We’ve shared our in-depth knowledge about each model to help you arrive at a more informed decision. Keep reading and learn the biggest similarities and differences between the Datejust and the Oyster Perpetual.
About the Rolex Datejust
First introduced in 1945, the Rolex Datejust is one of the most recognizable timepieces from the Swiss watchmaker. The model was the first self-winding waterproof chronometer watch that showed the date. This distinctive feature, which is found on the 3 o’clock dial, added a new functionality that changed come midnight. The date complication may seem like a common thing today, but the Datejust set the standards many decades ago.
The Datejust may be an industry icon, but it hasn’t received much fanfare in recent years compared to the Submariner or the Daytona. However, the watch became a backbone for the company, as many people were simply content with the Datejust as their Rolex timepiece. That’s why the watch is popular among those just starting their watch collection.
Rolex has introduced many variations of the Datejust lineup, but one of the most important modern updates came in 2009 – the arrival of the Datejust II. This had a larger dial that measured 41mm, much bigger than the 36mm that’s been the standard for the model. The Datejust II has stopped production, but it’s still available in the pre-worn market. Its successor is now the Datejust 41, which is equipped with the powerful Calibre 3235 movement, and also offers a 41mm case diameter, but with a more refined overall profile.
Rolex Datejust Design Cues
The many variations in the Rolex Datejust line up, but there are universal style features existing in almost all the models.
- Date Complication: On the three o’clock dial lies the date complication, which the watch is named after. Its distinctive font and white background created the enduring aesthetic that makes the watch highly recognizable.
- Cyclops Lens: To make the number appear bigger, Datejust’s sapphire crystal has a cyclops lens. It magnifies the date for easy recognition.
- Bracelet – Jubilee or Oyster: There are currently two bracelet designs available for Rolex Datejust watches, the dressier Jubilee or the sturdier Oyster.
- Material: The Datejust is known for the array of metals used for the watch case. You can choose from stainless steel, steel and yellow gold, steel and white gold, and steel and Everose gold, plus there are also solid gold editions of the smaller-sized Datejust models.
About the Rolex Oyster Perpetual
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual is the simplest and most accessible watch in the entire Rolex catalog. For most enthusiasts, it’s the one and only watch they’d buy from the Rolex brand – a versatile timepiece that can be worn at any event or occasion. But the Oyster Perpetual is far from basic, as it’s one of the most historic and coveted timepieces all over the world.
The name of this model perfectly describes its origins. “Oyster” is taken directly from the Oyster case, Rolex’s trademark casing that mimicked the way oysters completely shut off water. So the Oyster Perpetual can be used in water, but it still doesn’t compare to the capabilities of the Submariner. On the other hand, “Perpetual” came from the self-winding movement that allows the watch to run forever, so long as the wearer is active and moving.
Today, almost all of the Rolex catalog carries the words, “Oyster Perpetual” on the dial. This just means that the watch has the Oyster casing and automatic movements powered by the motion of the wrist. Still, the original Oyster Perpetual remains a distinct model in the catalog.
The Rolex Oyster Perpetual comes in an array of designs, materials, and colorways, but the features are distilled into the most simple needs. There are no added features or complications like the Datejust or Submariner. Because of this, the Oyster Perpetual is touted as the entry-level watch for Rolex collectors.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Design Cues
Here are the universal features found in the Oyster Perpetual lineup:
- Time-Only Dial Design: The Oyster Perpetual is a three-handed watch that displays the hours, minutes, and seconds of the day. This means that there is no date window on the dial and the Oyster Perpetual’s symmetrical display is one of the main reasons why collectors are attracted to it.
- Simple Bezel: The modern Oyster Perpetual neither has the fluted bezel of some Datejust models nor the rotatable bezel found on watches like the Submariner or GMT-Master II. Instead, all of the current-production models have a simple smooth unadorned bezel that exudes timeless elegance.
Biggest Points of Comparison
There are plenty of similarities between Datejust and Oyster Perpetual. In addition, they’re on the more affordable end of the Rolex catalog. Thanks to this, choosing one can be difficult. It’s better if you can get both, but that’s simply not the case for most people. However, there are a few major distinctions to help you make your choice in the Rolex Datejust vs Oyster Perpetual selection.
1. Date Complication
The most obvious difference between the two is the date complication on the Datejust. The Oyster Perpetual doesn’t have one because its design philosophy permits only the most important elements on a watch. Many may choose the Datejust for its added feature. But if you’re one who prefers more minimal designs, then the Oyster Perpetual is the better choice.
The Datejust 41mm is powered by the Calibre 3235 movement, a modern invention from the watchmaker. On the other hand, the current Oyster Perpetual 41mm is powered by the Calibre 3230 movement. Between these two movements, performance will be nearly identical and both new-generation movements offer an extended power reserve of approximately 70 hours, although the Caliber 3235 includes the additional utility of a date display, along with quickset functionality to allow it to be adjusted independently from the time.
3. Size Options
The Oyster Perpetual currently is available in more sizes than the Datejust. The latter has 28mm, 31mm, 36mm, and 41mm variations. On the other hand, the Oyster Perpetual has 28mm, 31mm, 34mm, 36mm, and 41mm dials – the most in the entire Rolex catalog. So you’ll have more choices depending on your needs and preferences.
4. Price Point
On average, the Oyster Perpetual is around $2,300 less than the Datejust. So if you’re looking for a more affordable option, then the former is a no-brainer. However, if you want a date complication, you’ll only need to shell out a small amount to get the Datejust.
Before You Buy
Here are other factors you might want to take into consideration before purchasing either the Datejust or Oyster Perpetual.
Both models are versatile enough for formal, everyday, or casual wear. However, the Datejust has a lot more colorways, sizes, and other variations. So if you’re looking for something that will show off your personal style instead of blending in with the rest of the crowd, then Datejust offers more options due to the additional material, bezel, dial, and bracelet options.
The Datejust is undoubtedly the more expensive option. But even the Oyster Perpetual model of your liking may still be above your budget. Rolex never offers sales and discounts, so you will have to visit the pre-owned market and find the watch of your dreams. These timepieces may have been previously loved, but they’re in like-new condition at much lower rates.
Are you the type of person who’ll only occasionally wear the watch? Or will you wear it whenever possible? This matters because the power reserves won’t be of much importance if you’re going to wear the watch constantly.