The Datejust is the world's first watch to feature an automatically changing date function, and the best selling Rolex watch of all time. The collection features the brand's signature Cyclops magnifying window and is offered in steel, steel and gold (two-tone), and solid gold. Shop our entire selection of certified pre-owned models by visiting our used Rolex Watches for sale page
The Rolex Datejust is not just a classic interpretation of a useful and popular complication, it was the model that brought the date display to the wrist. Date display windows may seem rather commonplace today; however the watch played a significant role in shaping this technology and helped inspire watchmaking's widespread adoption of the date complication - most ubiquitous function on a watch following the time itself. Its simple elegance and ability to subtly adapt to changes in taste and manufacturing techniques have elevated this modest model beyond repute. It is a watch design for all people and seasons, and as the years continue to roll by, the success shows no signs of letting up. As of April 7, Rolex has also released the new Rolex 2021 line as of their official announcment at Watches and Wonders.
First introduced in 1945 to celebrate the company's 40th anniversary, the Datejust was the world's first self-winding waterproof wrist chronometer to display the date of the month through a window on the dial. When the collection first hit the market the world was a very different place. The backdrop to Rolex's glorious release could not have been more incongruous. Much of Europe was struggling to recover from the damage (to both cities and psyches) done by World War II. What would follow the model's debut was a period of previously unknown optimism.
The post-war era saw an economic boom like few before it. The watch, and Rolex's legend could hardly help but benefit from the horrendous history that came before. The watch not only brought the immediate jumping date window complication to wristwatches for the first time, but the automatic movement also set a new standard for luxury sports watches around the world. It became an icon – a totem of liberty and luxury; a reminder of everything that was so nearly lost during the global conflict that raged around the quiet haven of Switzerland.
The line has remained in constant production since it was first introduced in 1945; however the actual history begins well before the collection ever made its initial debut.
1926 first waterproof oyster case
Oyster Bracelet first introduced during the 1930s
1933 Datejust name was registered
1945 Collection launched
1953 Cyclops lens invented
1955 Date change mechanism operates instantly
1955 Turn-O-Graph introduced as award to US Air-force
1977 Caliber 3035 with 'Quickset' function added for easy adjustment
2009 Datejust II introduced at 41mm
2016 Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41 was released + Caliber 3235 movement
2019 New, modern 36mm models introduced
The very first of the line did not feature all of the elements we would expect to see on a Datejust family member today, but the threads of each design yet to come were there. Released to mark the company's 40th anniversary, the Datejust (and the equally-renowned Jubilee bracelet) were surrounded by significant fanfare from the get-go. Building on the proven design and technology of the brands Oyster Perpetual models, the simple yet elegant way that the calendar complication functions changed the entire watchmaking industry.
But the very first model, reference 4467, wasn't decorated with the family name. This wouldn't become commonplace until the fifties when the design we know and love would finally be completed by the addition of the Cyclops magnification lens to the surface of the crystal. Visible through the 3 o'clock window in the dial, the date of the month is magnified by the Cyclops lens, enlarging the numbers by a factor of 2.5 times to significantly increase legibility.
Reputedly, this element was added on the request of founder Hans Wilsdorf's wife, who complained that the date was too small to read comfortably. While this is now the standard, it was this model that first introduced the new calendar system, and forever set the standard for date-displaying wristwatches. In fact, this model is the world's first self-winding chronometer to display the date aperture, and is known for its precision and reliability.
In the late fifties, the company upgraded the movement used to the caliber 1560. Around this time, the general design of the collection looked very similar to that of the modern range. The first such series to resemble the current collection was known as the 1600 series.
Then, the Cal. 3035 movement was introduced in the late seventies, which finally added the quick-set function to the date mechanism, enabling easy adjustment. This caliber featured throughout the golden age of the model and is the driving force within many of the pre-loved models available to buy on Bob's Watches.
The Caliber 3035 was replaced in 1988 with the Cal. 3135, which offered several functional upgrades including improved time-keeping. Along with this new movement, a sapphire crystal was added to the design, replacing the old acrylic version. Thus, the exterior was almost identical to the modern collection.
While the caliber was upgraded multiple times, it wasn't until the early 2000s that the company decided to roll-out its use of a new alloy, 904L stainless steel, across its whole catalog. The Datejust was eventually updated to feature this new, corrosion-resistant steel (which was renamed Oyster Steel in 2018), rounding out the material evolution of the iconic collection... at least for now.
Although this stylish dress watch has gone through a number of changes and updates throughout the years since the introduction of the original reference, we continue to see that the modern model has retained all of its hallmark traits like its waterproof Oyster case and its iconic fluted bezel.
UPDATED (AS OF 9/16/2020): Part of the new Rolex models update for 2020 consisted of a series of new Datejust 31 watches in both stainless steel and the brand's signature White Rolesor finish. Like other Rolesor models, Rolex's White Rolesor watches pair stainless steel with gold for a durable yet luxurious construction. On modern White Rolesor watches, the stainless steel case and bracelet are paired with a bezel crafted from 18k white gold.
Over the course of the last several years, Rolex has been continuously updating its Datejust range. The 36mm and 41mm models already received their key updates in previous years, but for 2020, the stainless steel and White Rolesor Datejust 31 watches joined their larger siblings in the modern era. Powered by the Caliber 2236 movement, the new 2020 Rolex Datejust 31 watches include the following references.
The entirely stainless steel reference 278240 is accompanied by an official retail price of $6,600, but the White Rolesor version with its white gold fluted bezel will set you back $8,050 when purchased brand-new at retail. From there, prices for the new 2020 Datejust 31 watches increase with the use of diamonds, topping out at $16,0509 for the ref. 278384RBR, which features both a diamond-set dial and a diamond bezel paired with its stainless steel case and bracelet. With that in mind, these new Rolex Datejust 31 watches are not expected to sell at a premium above their original retail prices, so it is likely that some of these new models may be found at a slight discount once they make their way to the secondary market.
One of the most popular editions of the Rolex Datejust is the two-tone option, and that doesn't just limit the series to steel and yellow gold. Everose Rolesor, a combination of steel and rose gold, is also available, as is White Rolesor, which pairs steel with white gold. Part of the immense appeal lies in the more affordable price point, which allows for the luxury of gold without the cost of a solid gold watch. One of the most recognizable two-tone Datejust watches is the ref. 16233, which features a yellow gold fluted bezel and a stainless-steel case and two-tone bracelet. While that reference is no longer in production, it has been replaced with the current ref. 126233, which includes the brand's latest and greatest movement, the Caliber 3235.
Also taking the market by storm this season are the Everose Rolesor Datejust references 126231 (fluted bezel) and 126201 (smooth bezel). Both options include the new-generation Cal. 3235 Perpetual movement and Rolex's proprietary Chromalight lume on the dial. Always trending is the White Rolesor Datejust sold under references 16234, 116234, and (the current model) ref. 126234, whose all white metal aesthetics offer a more subtle and modern take on Rolex's classic steel and gold finish.
The collection is home to a number of different and popular models including 26, 28, 31, 36, 41 versions, along with the now-discontinued Datejust II (also known as the Datejust 2). Additionally, this family is also home to the 34mm Date, and the now-discontinued Turn-O-Graph (aka Thunderbird) watches that feature rotating bezels, which could be used to time intervals up to 1 hour in length.
The Datejust is the best selling of all time for the brand, and no other collection in the catalog has been offered in nearly as many different sizes, materials, or configurations.
The modern-day reference 126233 with the 18-karat gold fluted bezel, 18 karat gold and Oyster steel Jubilee bracelet, and a champagne dial - fitted with applied, Chromalight hours markers that blaze away for hours in the dark is the current focal point of the collection. And so it should be. Although it bears relatively little in common with the very first model from 1945, it shoulders the burden of history well and takes the design cues of the model's real mainstream heyday during the mid-eighties and updates them all with modern manufacturing techniques.
One could argue that the slick production of the modern timepiece has caused it to lose some of the more rugged charms it possessed in the past, but a lot of that comes from the incredibly staged way the modern reference 126233 is presented. Seeing this piece in the metal is the only way to understand its true character. Only then is it possible to truly appreciate the indelible link between this current iteration and the trailblazing reference that hit the shelves 74 years ago. There is a warmth to the line, which is hard to communicate via screen or catalog. The older models, before the days of 904L stainless steel being used for every watch, have a softness to their design which is inexplicably artful.
As far as icons go, you cannot go wrong with any Rolex Datejust model old or new. The fluted bezel is crucial to the classic appearance, but there are also many other Datejust watches with smooth, engine-tuned, or gem-set bezels that offer different takes on this timeless classic. Regardless of the bezel style you choose, the dial layout and the world-famous cyclops magnifier characterize all watches from the line, whether they possess a fluted bezel or not, as part of this legendary lineage.
In the same way that the collection is available in a wide range of sizes, it is also available in a variety of different materials. Along with their Oystersteel (904L stainless steel) and solid 18 ct gold models, the collection is also manufactured in a combination of gold and steel, which is called Rolesor (also known throughout the industry as two-tone). These Rolesor watches are produced in three different varieties - Yellow Rolesor (yellow gold), White Rolesor (white gold), and Everose Rolesor (pink gold) - depending on which color of gold gets used in their construction.
Rolex dials are produced with a wide variety of different designs, but not all dial styles are available on all models. Many in the Oyster collection are only available with one style of dial; however this category has a seemingly endless number of dial options. In addition to the different styles of hour markers (stick, Roman numerals, diamonds, etc.), dials can also be found in a number of different textures and finishes. From classic sunburst and sundust dials to more opulent and elaborate designs such as mother of pearl, malachite, Jubilee, and meteorite, there is no single collection with a more diverse assortment of available dials.
Over the course of its production this model has been manufactured in the following sizes:
With the exception of the 26mm Lady-Datejust, which has been discontinued in favor of the 28mm model, all of these sizes still exist in the modern catalog. Although, do note, the 41mm Datejust II was replaced for the Datejust 41. While these two watches are technically the same size, their style is quite different. Because a number of these watches are manufactured in different sizes, there is no other collection with quite the same degree of options.
The Oyster bracelet is a universal bracelet design, and it is available as an option of virtually every watch that the company currently manufacturers. However, the Jubilee bracelet was originally designed specifically for the introduction of the collection in 1945, and remains an option for the brands iconic date-displaying collection of watches. While the Oyster bracelet features flat, three-piece links and is fitted with the standard Oysterclasp, the Jubilee follows a rounded 5-piece link design, and is fitted with a concealed Crownclasp, which provides a seamless look to the metal bracelet.
Since it was first introduced in 1945, this timepiece has been constantly evolving as the brand works to refine and improve upon its initial design. Although the overall aesthetics have remained largely unchanged throughout the years, there have been numerous different generations of internal movement used to power the watches throughout the years. The most recent movements being used are the Caliber 3235 (for men's models) and the Caliber 2236 (for the women's models). Despite their differences, both movements are certified chronometers and guarantee timekeeping performance to -2/+2 seconds per day,. The Caliber 2236 features a Syloxi (silicon) hairspring for greater precision and stability, while the Caliber 3235 features new and improved Chronergy escapement, which replaces the Caliber 3135 and offers significantly improved efficiency over the previous generation.
Browsing through the list of Testimonies is a veritable "who's who" of the celebrity echelon. World-class athletes, explorers, artists, musicians, and pioneers make up the list. However, when it comes to these popular models, there is a definite leaning towards men and women often seen stalking the courts of Wimbledon, Roland Garros, Flushing Meadows, and Melbourne Park.
Switzerland's most famous sports star – the esteemed Roger Federer – actually wears a Datejust II (the less commercially popular update released in 2009), several other tennis greats also wear this iconic design. Chief among them is all-timer Rod Laver, who is known to sport a very fetching all-gold timepiece on a Jubilee bracelet, with a very unusual tobacco dial.
Refreshingly, however, this model is the choice of more female tennis stars than male, with Spanish superstar Garbiñe Muguruza and German great Angelique Kerber both choosing models from the modern collection. Both Kerber and Muguruza are known to favor the 36mm Oystersteel and white gold reference 126234. Legend of the game, Chris Evert, also wears a model from this classic collection, preferring a 31mm diameter, a yellow gold Oyster bracelet, a fluted bezel, and a white dial with applied gold Roman numerals (reference 278278).
Away from the tram-lines, Annika Sörenstam can be found treading the fairways. On the wrist of this generational talent is usually a member of the brands family (she is known to have two to her name). Sörenstam rose to prominence in 1994, winning the Rolex LPGA Rookie of the Year award. That was the year she chose her first Rolex. 20 years later, she added a second model to her collection to mark two decades at the top of her game. On the back of Sörenstam's second Datejust is an engraving that reads, "Rolex, 20 years," as a personal reminder to the golfer of how far she has come from being a promising young talent noticed by the world's most famous watch manufacturer, to a much-deserved Hall of Fame induction years later.
Beyond the world of sport, this watch has testimonies from the world of music in the form of classical pianist Yuja Wang and opera singer Juan Diego Flórez. Wang, who chose her 31mm reference 178274 because it embodied the same level of precision and beauty for which she strives in her performances, is one of the world's most accomplished pianists. She began playing at six years old before winning the Aspen Music Festival's concerto competition at age 15. She continues to perform professionally to wide critical acclaim.
Opera singer Juan Diego Flórez is one of music's most revered stars. A long and celebrated career has taken him all around the globe to perform in some of the finest theaters in existence. On his wrist since the early days of success, has been a now-discontinued 36mm Rolesor model with the classic fluted bezel, champagne dial, and two-tone Jubilee bracelet. Of all testimonies for this, most acclaimed collection in the catalog, the example on the wrist of Juan Diego Flórez is perhaps the most iconic. The warm tones of the dial and the small details on the minute track (with the inclusion of minuscule Roman numerals) add up to make this one of the finest and most coveted examples of this classic model ever produced.
A Rolex watch has become a fashion icon, and throughout the years a number of celebrities, politicians, and high-profile individuals have chosen this model due to its timeless design, robust construction, and the legendary quality of the brands manufacturing process. This model is the best-selling Rolex watch of all time, and has been worn by some of the most influential individuals in the world, including (but certainly not limited to) the following names:
Having so many options within one family of watches is rare, but it is a treat that should be savored. Buying a Rolex should never be on impulse or rushed, and it is important to find a watch that will ultimately make you happy. The purchase process should be as enriching as owning a fine timepiece at the end of it. With so many sizes and configurations of dials, bezels, and bracelets to choose from here, it would be madness to not consider several before making a decision.
First zero-in on the size. While the classic 36mm may sound rather small by modern standards, the boxy lugs, relative thickness versus its diminutive diameter, and the chunky, aesthetically arresting Oyster or Jubilee bracelet give this model a good deal more heft and wrist presence than one might expect from the figures alone.
The bezel design of a Datejust has always played a huge role in the family's character, but it has not always, nor is it now, completely constant. In the modern collection, there are three bezel types available for most models: smooth "domed" bezels (which comes in either steel, gold, or platinum), fluted bezels (which is only offered in three different shades gold), and the various diamond-set bezels that most frequently appear on precious metal references.
In the past, bezels have been decorated in many different ways: engraved Roman Numerals, intermittent "Bamboo" patterning or shallow and bunched engraved lines punctuated by broad ridges - just to reference a few. Despite this wealth of historical options (and a handful of modern alternatives), it is the fluted bezel that is the quintessential option and a huge part of the brand's character. While it's original intended use (the screw down on top of the glass, creating a water-resistant seal) is now obsolete, its presence is, in my mind, essential to evoking the character of the ground-breaking original launched all those years ago.
If you're looking to trade or sell your Rolex watch be sure to visit our sell Rolex page to request a quote from Bob's Watches. For those who want to learn more about the history of this model, instructions on how to care for your watch, and learn additional facts about this stylish dress watch, be sure to visit our watch resources page.
Rolex Datejust watches are fitted with screw-down winding crowns, which means that they must first be unscrewed before the watch can be manually wound. To wind a Rolex Datejust, unscrew the winding crown from the case and then rotate it clockwise 30 to 40 turns. Although Datejust watches are fitted with automatic self-winding movements, they can also be manually wound, which will enable them to stay running while not being worn on the wrist.
Virtually all Rolex watches make good investments, and the Rolex Datejust is no exception. Although most Datejust models don't experience quite the same degree of appreciation as some of Rolex's sports models, they still have an amazing ability to retain their value over the years, despite receiving daily wear and use.
The number of links that a Rolex Datejust has depends on the size of its bracelet. Although the clasp fitted to Rolex Datejust watches does offer a certain degree of adjustability, the primary way of sizing the bracelet is by adding or removing links to fit the wrist of its owner.
The Datejust is a specific type of Rolex watch that displays the date of the month through a window in the dial at the 3 o'clock location. Many other Rolex watches feature this same calendar complication; however they are not actually Datejust watches, as that name specifically applies to one collection of Rolex watches.
Both the time and the date on Rolex Datejust watches can be adjusted through the winding crown. After unscrewing the winding crown from the case, pull the crown out to the first position (for Quickset models) to adjust the date, and the second position to adjust the time telling hands. Vintage Datejust watches do not offer Quickset functionality, so the only way to adjust the date is by changing the time and advancing the hands past midnight.
The Datejust is Rolex's best-selling watch of all time, and it makes a great everyday timepiece. Rather than being developed for a specific sport or activity, the Datejust was designed to be worn all-day, every-day. The Datejust's style is highly versatile and can be easily worn with both casual and formal attire, and with 100 meters of water resistance, Rolex Datejust watches are durable to withstand all of life's adventures.
Rolex is among the most counterfeited products in the world so as a consumer, you need to be careful. First off, always buy from a reputable dealer. That is rule number one. Secondly, the overall quality of a genuine authentic timepiece will be far superior to that of most fakes. However, it takes a trained eye and some tools to really identify some of the better counterfeit ones out there - especially the better ones we call the "super fakes." To learn more about how to tell if a Datejust is real, please visit our guide under "watch resources" on our website. There are even a few very detailed "How to" videos on this subject if you really want to dig in and educate yourself.