Due to their similar names, near-identical style, and matching functionality, there is often some confusion surrounding the Rolex Datejust and Date watches. We wouldn’t blame you for confusing the two for each other either because, unless you’re examining them in person, it can be hard to tell the difference. However, since these two similar watches are considered different Rolex watch collections, it can be easy to tell them apart with a core understanding of their designs.
To put it broadly, the Datejust is larger at 36mm in diameter while the Rolex Date is smaller at 34mm in diameter. But, the differences between both collections go much deeper than just case size. In this article, we will discuss the differences between the Rolex Datejust vs. Date in depth to clear the confusion once and for all.
History of Rolex Datejust and Rolex 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 an automatically changing 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. This watch is a horological trailblazer, shaping how the industry makes wristwatches in more ways than one.
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.
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.
In the 1970s, Rolex began to roll out improved scratch-resistant sapphire crystal throughout their catalog, replacing acrylic. The Date was among the first models to receive the upgrade in 1975, followed immediately by several sports models and then the Datejust about a decade later in 1988. This transformation era was also around the time that the Datejust switched to the caliber 3135 Perpetual movement. This movement would remain a fixture of the Date and Datejust collections for decades until the caliber 3235 entered the picture alongside the Datejust 41 in 2016, followed by the Datejust 36 in 2018. However, the Date continued to use caliber 3135 until it was discontinued in 2021.
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, which you can still find when browsing collections of pre-owned Rolex models for sale. 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 the Date entirely, leaving only the Datejust and Lady-Datejust in production. 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 (discontinued)
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 simplified the choices to just two near the end of the collection’s production: 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 design choices. Because of the smaller case size and limited style options, the Date is generally priced lower than the Datejust.
Current Production Datejust Options: Datejust 36, Datejust 41 & Lady-Datejust 28
The current Datejust lineup includes 31mm, 36mm, and 41mm case size options for the men’s series and a 28mm case size for the women’s collection. The Datejust 36 and Datejust 41 are only produced in full steel or two-tone, while the Datejust 31 and Lady-Datejust 28 are available in full-steel, two-tone, or full-gold options. The lady’s range also has more bracelet options, including the Oyster, Jubilee, and President bracelets.
While the Datejust 36 and Datejust 41 only sport the Jubilee or Oyster bracelet. The women’s range boasts more of what one might consider the more “luxurious” style options, while the men’s collection keeps it simple. At its core, every variation of the Datejust, old or new, will feature three design elements: a waterproof Oyster case, Perpetual movement with automatic winding, and the jump date mechanism at 3 o’clock.
Rolex Datejust and Date 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 ended its production with 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. It also boasts the distinction of a discontinued Rolex.