While few would dispute that the Rolex Datejust is an industry classic, less attention is often paid to the short-lived Datejust II model. Released in 2009 to cater to a more modern audience, the Rolex Datejust II did not hang around in the collection for very long. By 2016, Rolex decided to discontinue the Datejust II, dropping it from the catalog in favor of the Datejust 41. With over 70 years in production, there is a seemingly endless list of Datejust variations, each boasting a unique style. But if it’s a powerful and contemporary watch that you seek, the Datejust II may be the perfect choice for you.
Although Rolex recently discontinued the Datejust II collection to make way for the new 2016 Datejust 41 lineup, the Datejust II is still a popular option in the secondary market. Models such as the Rolex 116334 continue to be a desired watch by collectors. By far the sportiest option among all Datejust models, the Datejust II is an ideal daily Rolex for the modern man who appreciates classic design reinterpreted to suit contemporary style.
The Datejust II’s brief period of availability may seem like a damning indictment of its quality, but as with many of Rolex’s flash-in-the-pan models, it seems it may just have been a bit ahead of its time. At the very least, it is an oddball anomaly that is garnering more and more respect as time passes and opinions soften towards it.
Rolex Datejust II Reference 116334
Datejust 116334 Key Features:
Production Years: 2009 – 2016
Case Size: 41mm
Materials: Stainless steel w/ 18k white gold
Functions: Time w/ running seconds, Date display
Dial: Multiple colors and styles available.
Bezel: Fixed, 18k white gold, Fluted style
Movement: Caliber 3136
Water Resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet
Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet
Rolex Datejust II Reference 116334
Perhaps the most ubiquitous and appealing reference to emerge during the Datejust II’s run is the reference 116334. As always, rather than referring to a single model, the Datejust II is indicative of a whole generation of Rolex watches that boasted the same specs but different aesthetic embellishments. This means that within the Datejust II canon, several options could speak to all manner of potential purchasers, with the reference 116334 being just one of them.
The reference 116334 is the same basic design as the original Rolesor Datejust that dominated the men’s luxury watch market for several decades. However, the reference 116334 reflects all of the changes that would have occurred to the regular Datejust line had its design not been too iconic to alter substantially. While some may feel that the classic 36mm, two-tone Datejust is a bit antiquated, others would argue that its design is truly timeless and that it will never fall out of style. To please both parties, Rolex has released a new generation of Datejust – one that reflects all of the stylistic cues and requests of modern times.
For purists, the classic, yellow gold and stainless steel, the 36mm Datejust is still available. However, for those who like the Datejust design but who also want a more contemporary watch, the reference 116334 is an excellent choice. It encapsulates all of the Datejust’s iconic design traits in a larger and more modern package. The reference 116334 is a Rolesor Datejust, meaning that much like its classic predecessor, it is made from both stainless steel and 18-karat gold. However, the Rolex Datejust 116334 uses white gold for the bezel, hands, and hour markers, giving it the stylistic versatility of an all-stainless steel watch while still retaining premium characteristics of quality and luxury.
Naturally, the famous Cyclops magnification lens sits on top of the scratch-resistant sapphire crystal above the date indicator at 3 o’clock. Furthermore, similar to all modern Rolex watches, the in-house Caliber 3136 is a COSC-certified chronometer. You can also safely take the Rolex Datejust II swimming with you since the watch’s Twinlock winding crown and screw-down case-back provides water resistance to 330 feet (100 meters).
A big attraction of modern Rolex watches is the look and comfort of the iconic Oyster bracelet. The Datejust II ref. 116334’s stainless steel Oyster bracelet features polished center links flanked by outer brushed links. Additionally, unlike older Datejust generations, the bracelet found on the Datejust II features completely solid end-links and center links, along with a more refined multi-component machined clasp. The watch’s clasp also comes equipped with Rolex’s proprietary Easy-Link comfort extension system to allow for tool-free adjustment of 5mm, guaranteeing optimal fit and comfort.
Rolex Datejust II vs. Datejust 41
Obviously, given that the Datejust 41 replaced the Datejust II in the catalog, all Datejust 41 models will be newer than their Datejust II counterparts. However, given that the very oldest Datejust II watches in the world were only just created in 2009, age should not be a huge factor in the decision between a Rolex Datejust II and a Datejust 41.
The Rolex Datejust II was released to capitalize on the trend towards larger watches. As such, it wasn’t just a 41mm version of the Datejust, but it also had a thicker bezel and a bolder lug profile. As such, it is more than simply a scaled-up Datejust 36. It is something entirely new. Conversely, its successor did not retain the proportions adopted for the Datejust II, despite both watches having the same 41mm case diameter. The Rolex Datejust 41 reverted to a more elegant form. It doesn’t have quite the same wrist presence of the discontinued Datejust II, although some see it as more refined as a result.
A Differnet Rolex Datejust
But what if you want that heft on the wrist? What if you desire the presence the Rolex Datejust II afforded its wearers? With the addition of the more elegant Datejust 41 and the Oyster Perpetual’s 2020 jump up to the same case diameter, there are plenty of options for customers seeking a larger Rolex watch. However, none of the current-production models are quite able to blend the classiness and the wearable chunkiness that became the calling cards of the Datejust II.
As such, the Datejust II occupies its own position within Rolex’s history with no other model offering quite the same ownership experience. Sure, it may only have enjoyed a few brief years in the sun, but it has made a lasting impact in the minds of its fans. Chances are, with no new models available, these pieces will start to garner higher and higher prices as more and more of them become parts of people’s permanent collections.
There are few things Rolex collectors come to appreciate over time more than interesting, short-lived, initially-misunderstood (or flat-out rejected) dial designs. And when it comes to dial designs, the Datejust II 116334 had some pretty interesting options. The dial on the Datejust II was available in many different colors and hour markers. Some designs were crisp, some were clean, but many were an exciting mishmash of elements that seemed to come from starkly different eras of Rolex’s history.
Such eclecticism had the effect of making some of the Datejust II dials (the ones for which the watch is perhaps best remembered, at least) look simultaneously passé and avantgarde. While that may not sound like a ringing endorsement, these slightly unusual combinations are starting to look more interesting as time moves forward.
A favorite sial variation among collectors and one that is still available for the Rolex Datejust 41 models is the style that blends Roman Numerals with a single luminous marker at 9 o’clock. It is easy to see the thinking behind this design (with the 9 o’clock lume block balancing out the date window and cyclops at 3 o’clock), but it is so unusual it did not get the love it deserves at the time of its initial release. As the years roll by, models like this are now starting to look more charming in hindsight, especially considering that this unusual style still remains an option in the Rolex catalog.
Datejust II vs. Datejust 41 Size Comparison
The nuances of dial design are always going to be contentious. After all, the dial is – among all elements – perhaps the most subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. Although different sizes and proportions appeal to different tastes, those measurements are at least a bit more objective on paper. So how does the Datejust II stack-up against its successor, the Rolex Datejust 41?
One thing you will hear as soon as the conversation turns toward the Rolex Datejust II is how much bigger and thicker it is than the Datejust 41. To be frank, both descriptive terms are a little bit misleading. While the Datejust 41 is ever so slightly thinner than the Datejust II, the actual difference is a fraction of a millimeter. For all intents and purposes, both watches are a very wearable 12mm thick. With that in mind, there are some significant differences in the lug profiles, bezels, and bracelets that affect the overall impression of these watches and give the Datejust II a larger and more chunky appearance.
When observing the two watch styles head-on, you will notice how the Datejust II appears a bit bigger than the Datejust 41. Both watches have official case diameters of 41mm with a lug width measurement of 21mm, but both the lugs and bezel of the Datejust II seem slightly larger and thicker than those on the Datejust 41.
The actual difference in the thickness of the lugs and bezel is a fraction of a millimeter here, and while it is a marginal difference, it is very much noticeable when you place the two watches side-by-side. This gives the Datejust II a chunkier appearance, making the entire watch appear slightly more blocky on the wrist. However, one major difference between these two watches – one that is never more obvious than when they are placed on the wrist – is the lug-to-lug length. The lug-to-lug measurement of the Datejust II stands at 49.5mm. That is a full 2mm more than the Datejust 41, which comes in at 47.5mm.
Interestingly, Rolex never offered the Datejust II with a dressier five-link Jubilee bracelet, only with a three-link Oyster bracelet. While the Jubilee bracelet made its debut on the inaugural Datejust model in 1945, exclusively using the Oyster bracelet enhances the sportiness of the Datejust II.
Rolex Datejust II vs. Datejust 41 Movement
The biggest difference between the Rolex Datejust II and the Datejust 41 can be found behind the case-back. The Datejust II uses the Caliber 3136, which is largely based on the proven Cal. 3135 movement. Rolex aficionados may be familiar with the Caliber 3135, which powered the majority of Rolex’s date-displaying models from the late 1980s all the way up until the last few years. With a larger case, however, came an updated Cal. 3136 Perpetual movement developed just for the Datejust II. One of the last Rolex movements to follow the 31xx platform, the Caliber 3136 boasts a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring as well as Paraflex shock absorbers; however, the overall design is largely identical to the movement that Rolex had used in its date-displaying watches for a number of years.
The Datejust 41, however, is fitted with the new-generation Caliber 3235, which boasts Rolex’s proprietary Chronergy escapement, which offers increased efficiency, allowing the movement to achieve a longer 70-hour power reserve. Like all of Rolex’s modern movements, both the Caliber 3136 and the Caliber 3235 are officially certified chronometers, so you can rest assured that your Rolex will always be accurate, regardless of whether you opt for the Rolex Datejust II or the Datejust 41.
Why the Rolex Datejust 116334 is growing in popularity
You can still get a 41mm Rolex Datejust, and the current-production ref. 126334 is very similar to the now-discontinued Datejust ref. 116334. Additionally, the current 41mm White Rolesor Datejust is also available with either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet, further expanding its appeal to a wider range of buyers. However, for those that want the absolute largest and boldest Datejust watch that Rolex has ever produced, there is no replacement for the Datejust II.
It’s also worth noting that in order to achieve a more integrated appearance between the case and bracelet on the current Datejust 41, the end-links of the bracelet now slot into two cut-outs on each side of the case that are located between the lugs, with the bezel slightly overhanging on the top. When worn on the bracelet, this new design creates a more cohesive overall aesthetic; however, when worn on a strap, the cut-outs in the side of the case become slightly visible as they are no longer covered by the end-link. Conversely, the sides of the case between the lugs on the Rolex Datejust II are flat and without any cut-outs – just like a normal watch. This does not offer quite the same integration as the updated design, but it does allow for a much more natural pairing when the watch is worn on a traditional leather strap.
White metal watches tend to have a more modern overall appearance than their solid gold or two-tone counterparts and this has made Rolex’s stainless steel and white gold watches incredibly popular in recent years. White Rolesor (Rolex’s signature name for the use of stainless steel and white gold components on a single watch) represents a happy medium between the two, 0ffering the luxury and prestige of 18k gold, but paired with the durability and price point normally occupied by stainless steel models. Consequently, this has made White Rolesor a particularly popular metal option for the brand’s Datejust collection.
Additionally, the fluted bezel is one of Rolex’s signature aesthetics and for many collectors, the quintessential Rolex Datejust should have a fluted bezel. While both the Datejust II and the Datejust 41 lines offer smooth bezel variants, it is the fluted bezel models that are the most immediately identifiable as Datejust watches. Rolex only ever produces its fluted bezels in solid gold, making White Rolesor watches like the Rolex Datejust II ref. 116334 the least expensive options that offer this signature Rolex design trait. While the Rolex Datejust II may no longer be in production anymore, there has arguably never been more interest in the watch than there is today. An unapologetically bold and modern take on Rolex’s most famous watch of all time, the Rolex Datejust 116334 makes for a highly versatile everyday watch and the perfect addition to any collection.