The Rolex Datejust is one of the brand’s longest-running models. It first came to market in 1945 and continues to remain in production today, now produced in various case sizes, materials, and bracelet options. In 1926, Rolex developed the first waterproof case, followed shortly by its ingenious Perpetual movement in 1931. The Datejust included each of these pioneering features and added an automatically changing date mechanism, which has resulted in the massive success that it is today. As of 2022, the least expensive Rolex Datejust is the 31mm reference 278240 in full stainless steel, which has an official retail price of $7,100, while the least expensive full-size model is the 36mm Datejust 126200, which costs $7,250 when purchased brand-new. With that in mind, retail prices for Rolex Datejust watches can reach well over $43,800 for models that are crafted from solid 18k everose gold and set with diamonds and other precious gemstones.
If you’re in the market for a Rolex Datejust, chances are that you’re interested in a classic Rolex watch with timeless style. This guide will answer many common questions regarding the Datejust and its accompanying prices, such as how much the Datejust costs, whether or not it’s a good investment, and some of the best and most popular Rolex Datejust models at different price points that are available on the pre-owned market.
Table of Contents:
Datejust Collection Key Features:
– Case Sizes: 26mm (discontinued) 28mm, 31mm, 34mm (also known as the Date), 36mm, 41mm
– Materials: Stainless Steel, Two-Tone, 18k Gold, Platinum (ladies and midsize models only)
– Dial: Multiple Options Available
– Bezel: Smooth, Fluted, Engine-Turned (discontinued), Textured (discontinued), Gem-Set
– Movement: Automatic, Chronometer-Certified
– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster, Jubilee, President (ladies and midsize models only), Leather Strap (discontinued)
How Much is the Rolex Datejust?
At retail, prices for the men’s sizes of the Rolex Datejust start at $7,250 for the Oystersteel ref. 126200. From there, other factors come into play, such as the use of precious metals, bracelet style, and the use of diamonds or other gemstones. The popular White Rolesor Datejust 36 reference 126234 will set you back $8,500 at retail when purchased on a Jubilee bracelet, while the Datejust 41 reference 126334 in White Rolesor retails for significantly more at $10,250 on a Jubilee bracelet. If you’re purchasing a Datejust brand-new, you can expect to spend anywhere from $8k to $15k.
On the pre-owned level, options are much more varied given the number of different models that have been produced throughout Datejust’s long and storied history. Despite the Datejust’s universally recognized design and high-profile position within Rolex’s catalog, it is still possible to purchase a used Datejust for under $5k. With that in mind, prices can vary depending on the watch’s rarity, the materials used, and the particular example’s overall condition.
Generally speaking, models with 5-digit reference numbers require an average investment of around $5k to $8k. For example, the steel and gold reference 16013 costs about $6,000 to $7,000, while its successor, the ref. 16233 powered by the Caliber 3135 movement usually costs a minimum of about $7k. The recently-discontinued 6-digit generation will set you back an average of $10k to $12k for most of the two-tone models. Lastly, the pre-owned price for the current Datejust lineup is typically close to its retail price, with some models and configurations even being a bit higher.
Is the Rolex Datejust a Good Investment?
The short answer to this popular question is yes – nearly every Rolex will hold its value over time. The reverence and exclusivity of the brand coupled with exceptional quality guarantees that most Rolex watches will stand the test of time in terms of performance and style – and the Datejust is absolutely no exception.
The model is still in production today and remains one of the brand’s most successful watches. We expect the Rolex Datejust will continue to be a popular choice among collectors of all levels, even decades from now. Additionally, the vintage trend seems to continue to remain in style as collectors gain an appreciation for older watches with character and history. Paired with its timeless design, these factors help the Rolex Datejust retain its value, especially in the long-term.
Based on historic prices, the Rolex Datejust has increased in value by more than 200% since the 1990s. Additionally, the massive demand for Rolex watches virtually guarantees that this general trend will continue as the brand’s trajectory (as a whole) seems to be towards occupying a higher price point within the luxury watch market. All of this considered, these numbers bode well for anyone interested in investing in a Rolex Datejust.
Shop Pre-Owned Rolex Datejust Watches
One of the best investment options available when considering the Rolex Datejust is to shop on the secondary market. While there are benefits to buying a brand new Datejust, one of many being that you get to be the first person to wear it, the Datejust is rarely among the Rolex models that trade hands for values above its retail price on the secondary market, and you can often save yourself a significant amount of money by shopping for discontinued or pre-owned models. By starting with a lower initial investment, the odds of your Rolex Datejust increasing in price over time are much higher.
Consider Two-Tone and Gold Datejust Watches
At a retail level, gold and two-tone Rolex watches cost significantly more than their stainless steel counterparts. While this often still remains true when it comes to the pre-owned market, the price premiums that you pay for precious metals can often be substantially less than if you were to have shopped for the same watches when they were brand-new.
For example, a stainless steel Datejust 36 ref. 126200 fitted with smooth bezel and Oyster bracelet (the least expensive configuration for the 36mm model) retails for $7,250, while its Everose Rolesor counterpart, the reference 126201 (also with a smooth bezel and Oyster bracelet) costs $11,550, due to its use of Rolex’s proprietary 18k rose gold alloy. On the pre-owned market, the Everose Rolesor edition can likely be found for just under $15k, while the stainless steel version will cost closer to $9k due to the shortage of steel Rolex watches on a retail level and the price premiums they command on the open market.
As the popularity of stainless steel Rolex watches continues to soar, so do their open-market prices, and there are a number of models that sell pre-owned for more than they did when they were brand-new and originally sold at retail. What this means is that two-tone and gold Datejust watches can often represent some of the best value for the money when shopping for a pre-owned Datejust, as they don’t typically carry the same price premiums that exist at retail.
Best Rolex Datejust – Under $5,000
Rolex Datejust ref. 1601
The best option for under $5k has to be the beloved vintage Datejust ref. 1601. With a production run that lasted through the 1950s and well into the 1970s, the reference 1601 is in plentiful supply on the secondary market. There are also many metal options to choose from, including stainless steel, gold, and two-tone. Traditionally, it is fitted with Datejust’s signature Jubilee bracelet, but it is also common to see some examples with Oyster bracelets or even leather straps.
The ref. 1601 Datejust is also known for its striking Pie Pan dial. The edges slope downward and away from the surface of the dial, somewhat resembling an overturned pie pan. This dial one of the hallmark traits of many vintage Rolex watches and separates the reference 1601 from all subsequent Datejust generations, further adding to this model’s desirability and charm. Over the years, the Datejust 1601 has been getting increasingly more expensive (just like virtually all Rolex watches); however, it is still possible to find an example of the ref. 1601 for under $5k, especially if it is fitted with a leather strap, rather than its original metal bracelet.
– Average Datejust 1601 price: $4k to $6k (pre-owned)
Best Rolex Datejust – $5,000 to $10,000
Rolex Datejust 36 ref. 116234
If yellow gold isn’t your style, consider the Datejust ref. 116234 in White Rolesor, a handsome pairing of white gold and stainless steel. This edition of the Datejust is popular because it offers the luxury of gold and the versatility of a slightly more subdued and monochromatic, white-metal appearance – all while remaining immediately identifiable as a member of the classic Rolex Datejust 36 collection.
The Rolex Datejust 116234 also offers many modern amenities afforded to the 6-digit series, such as an upgraded case with larger and more rounded lugs, a bracelet with completely solid links, and a slightly more contemporary dial selection. The reference 116234 was recently discontinued, making the pre-owned market the only source to find this steel and white gold Rolex Datejust model. Although some examples of the Datejust 36 ref. 116234 will come in at just above the $10k price point, there are still plenty of options that can be found for under the five-figure mark.
– Average Datejust 116234 price: $9,500 to $11,000 (pre-owned)
Rolex Datejust ref. 16233
One of the most iconic editions of the classic Datejust 36 is the two-tone ref. 16233. It is the quintessential dress watch, featuring a versatile blend of steel with 18k yellow gold, and paired with classic Datejust design elements, such as the gold fluted bezel, a 36mm case, and either the 3-link Oyster or 5-link Jubilee bracelet.
As a somewhat modern Datejust that was produced from the 1980s until around the mid-2000s, it also includes a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a high-beat Caliber 3135 Perpetual movement. This blend of modern elements with an older bracelet style and case proportions is what makes the reference 16233 one of the most popular Datejust watches on the secondary market.
– Average Datejust 16233 price: $6,500 to $8,000 (pre-owned)
Rolex Datejust 41 ref. 126300 & Datejust 36 ref. 126200
Oystersteel remains one of the most popular metal options within the entire Rolex catalog. Even though it isn’t a precious metal, stainless steel Rolex watches stand to hold their value well based on high demand alone. If you have the budget to invest in a Datejust for right around the $10k mark and don’t mind stretching your budget by a few hundred dollars, then the Datejust 41 ref. 126300 and Datejust 36 ref. 126200 are both worth considering.
Both editions belong to the current Datejust lineup and are constructed from 904L-grade Oystersteel. They’re powered by the next-generation Caliber 3235 movement and boast Chromalight lume and a variety of bold dial options. The reference 126300 belongs to the 41mm Datejust collection and is available with a smooth bezel and a 5-link Jubilee or 3-link Oyster bracelet. The reference 126200 hails from the classic 36mm Datejust series and is also fitted with a smooth bezel and available with both bracelet options.
– Average Datejust ref. 126200 and ref. 126300 price: $9,995 – $11,500 (pre-owned)
Best Rolex Datejust – Over $10k
Rolex Datejust 41 ref. 126301
Rolex’s proprietary Everose gold is increasingly popular among both men and women. While the Datejust 41 isn’t available in full gold, it does feature Everose Rolesor – Rolex’s signature pairing of both Oystersteel and 18k rose gold components on a single watch. This metal option is a contemporary take on a fashion-forward classic and both the Jubilee and Oyster bracelets are offered for this reference.
Additionally, numerous dial options are available for the Datejust 41 reference 126301, including dazzling diamond-set, mother of pearl, and striking Sundust finishes topped with Chromalight-filled baton hour markers. Once again, the new-generation Caliber 3235 beats within the case, offering a longer power reserve and chronometer-certified accuracy up to -2/+2 seconds per day.
– Average Datejust 126301 price: $15,000 to $17,500 (pre-owned)
Rolex Datejust ref. 126233
Rolex continues production of the classic two-tone steel and yellow gold Datejust 36 in the form of the reference 126233. It hails from a long line of two-tone Datejust watches, including popular references like the 16013, 16233, and 116233.
As the latest iteration of this classic, the reference 126233 is powered by the Caliber 3235 movement and also boasts Chromalight lume on its dial and hands, along with a more refined case and bracelet. The Datejust 36 ref. 126233 will always be found with a gold fluted bezel, but it can be found with either a Jubilee or Oyster bracelet and with a wide range of different dial options.
– Average Datejust 126233 price: $13,500 to $15,000 (pre-owned)