Watch 101

Rolex Datejust vs. Rolex Date

Paul Altieri

Due to their similar names, near-identical style, and matching functionality, there is often some confusion surrounding the Rolex Datejust and Date watches. However, since these two similar watches are considered different Rolex watch collections, we will discuss the differences between the Rolex Datejust vs. Date to clear the confusion once and for all.

Rolex Datejust vs. Date
What’s the difference between the Rolex Datejust and Date?

The History of the Rolex Datejust and Date Watches

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the company, Rolex unveiled the Datejust in 1945 as the world’s first chronometer-rated wristwatch with a date window on the dial. The then-new Rolex Datejust also brought together the brand’s other groundbreaking innovations such as the waterproof Oyster case (invented in 1926) and the self-winding “Perpetual” mechanical movement (invented in 1931). As a result, the watch’s official name is the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust.

Another novelty of the Datejust was its five-link bracelet design, called the Jubilee bracelet. The inaugural full yellow gold Datejust model combined a 36mm case with a fluted bezel and a Jubilee bracelet – design elements that are still popular within the modern Datejust collection even if the lineup has flourished with a vast assortment of different metal, bezel, bracelet, and size options.

Rolex Datejust vs Date white gold blue dial
The Datejust was originally introduced in 1945.

The Rolex Date joined the company’s catalog in the mid-1950s as a slightly smaller alternative to the Datejust. Rather than a 36mm Oyster case, the Oyster Perpetual Date watch sported a 34mm case housing a dial with a date window at 3 o’clock. Although there were a handful of other style options available such as solid gold models, the majority of early Date references were stainless steel with smooth bezels and three-link Oyster bracelets.

Right off the bat, we see that the Rolex Date was not just a smaller iteration of the Datejust, but also a somewhat more casual option too. By the time Rolex released the Date model, the Cyclops date magnification lens had already been introduced in 1953. The Cyclops bubble serves to magnify the date window by 2.5 times and it has become a fixture of all Datejust and Date watches since its inception.

solid gold Rolex Datejust or Date
Certain Rolex Date watches are available in either two-tone or solid gold.

Rolex Datejust vs. Date Sizes

While the first sizes of the Datejust and the Date were 36mm and 34mm (respectively), Rolex did add more size options to both collections over the years. For instance, somewhat puzzlingly, Rolex has in the past produced the Lady-Datejust and the ladies’ Date with 26mm cases, and the mid-size Datejust and mid-size Date with 31mm case sizes. However, perhaps for greater clarity between the two models, Rolex has since discontinued all of the smaller Date versions and currently only makes the Date 34. Additionally, Rolex has also ceased making the Lady-Datejust 26, replacing it with the Lady-Datejust 28. Furthermore, over the course of the last decade, Rolex has also added larger options for the Datejust.

Rolex Datejust Sizes

  • Lady-Datejust 26 (discontinued)
  • Lady-Datejust 28
  • Datejust 31
  • Datejust 36
  • Datejust II (41mm; discontinued)
  • Datejust 41

Rolex Date Sizes

  • Date 26 (discontinued)
  • Date 31 (discontinued)
  • Date 34
Vintage Rolex Datejust vs Date comparison
Traditionally, Rolex Date watches have been slightly smaller than the Datejust.

Materials And Styles

The Rolex Datejust has always offered far more metal choices and different style options compared to the Rolex Date. Although there are some vintage and discontinued Date 34 models in solid gold and two-tone steel and gold, Rolex has now simplified the choices to just two: full stainless steel or stainless steel with a white gold fluted bezel, both of which have 34mm cases and are fitted with Oyster bracelets.

The Datejust, on the other hand, offers a dizzying array of choices from extra small to extra large cases, smooth to fluted bezels, Oyster to Jubilee bracelets, steel to two-tone, not to mention the infinite Datejust dial options. Plus, the Lady-Datejust watches even offer full gold and/or platinum models with President bracelets and gem-set bezels. Naturally, because of the smaller case size and limited style options, the Date is generally priced lower than the Datejust.

Rolex Datejust and Date two-tone comparison
The Datejust is available in more configurations than any other Rolex watch collection.

Functionality

The Datejust and Date have always featured identical functions – a self-winding time and date movement with an instantaneously changing date display. Additionally, the two watches have often run on the same calibers as well (as have the smaller versions of both models) with both switching to quickset date movements in the late 1970s.

However, today the current-production Datejust 36 and Datejust 41 watches are powered by the latest generation Caliber 3235 movement with a 70-hour power reserve, while the Date 34 still runs on the previous generation Caliber 3135 with a 48-hour power reserve.

Overall, the Rolex Date is the smaller and simpler version of the Rolex Datejust with fewer options available from the factory but offering near-identical functionality.

Gold Rolex Datejust vs Date
Do you prefer the Rolex Datejust or Date?
Paul Altieri

Paul is the company's Founder and CEO. He is responsible for all the day to day activities from purchasing, receiving, marketing and sales. Paul is a graduate of Boston College 1979 and resides in California with his family.