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. 2019 update: suggested retail prices start at $6,400 as of 2020 and increase depending on size and options. 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.
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 very first of the line did not feature all of the elements we would expect to see on a 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 family looked very similar to that of the modern range. The first such series to resemble the current collection was known as the 1600 series.
The 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. It was replaced in the late 1980s with the 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.
But it wasn't until the early 2000s that the company decided to roll-out its use of 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 model has retained all of its hallmark traits like its waterproof Oyster case and its iconic fluted bezel. Additionally, regardless of the specific generation, the entire collection has a very balanced weight when on the wrist, making them incredibly comfortable watches that can be worn every single day.
One of the most appealing things about the collections range is that its longevity and popularity has resulted in many options, both modern and vintage. While it is not the entry-level family in the catalog (that title belongs to the Oyster Perpetual collection), the model is a relatively low-cost access point that packs a serious punch in regards to reputation and provenance.
Typical examples of a vintage Rolesor (two-tone) version on a Jubilee bracelet from the late 1970s to late ‘80s are frequently available at under $5,000. These models tend to be in very good to excellent condition and are relatively easy to source on the secondary market. For all steel models or models on an Oyster bracelet instead, the prices are even more attractive.
Another appealing aspect of the collection is its immense diversity. There are few watch families on the market today that offer so many combinations of sizes, materials, and colors. It is, therefore, one of the most suitable watch collections for customers looking for "His & Hers" watches.
Watches in the collection range from 28mm to 41mm in diameter. As such, and due to the vast assortment of different materials and configurations, prices can vary wildly. Retail prices for all-stainless steel models start out at $6,400 and quickly go up from there into the “price upon request” territory, depending on the use of precious and premium options such as diamond bezels.
The most common size is the classic 36mm version. Among the current collection, the entry point for the entirely 904L Oystersteel model on an Oyster bracelet and with a smooth bezel is $7,050, while retail prices for two-tone steel and gold 36mm models start out at $10,950.
The base model Men's Datejust 41 reference in Oystersteel with a smooth bezel and Oyster bracelet comes with an official retail price of $7,650. Prices increase from there depending on your choice of metals, dial, diamonds, and bracelet.
The entry-level women's model (also crafted from 904L Oystersteel and fitted with a smooth bezel and Oyster bracelet) has a retail price of $6,400. Like the men’s models, prices will increase from there, depending on your choice of metal, dial, bezel, diamonds, and bracelet.
Is the Rolex Datejust a Good Watch?
To some, this model might feel like a conservative dress watch. Opinions aside, if you're interested in a good looking timepiece with a stylish appeal this is a nice investment and a popular model.
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. But 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 guides here on the website under "watch resources." There are even a few very detailed "How to" videos on this subject if you really want to dig in and educate yourself.
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 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 far wrong with any model old or new. The fluted bezel is crucial to the classic appearance, but the dial layout and the world-famous cyclops magnifier mark 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. While 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 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.
Due to the wide range of sizes and options, the price can range significantly. Stainless steel, two-tone, and solid gold versions all have different prices, and the size of the watch itself influences the price further. While older references can be some of the most affordable references available on the pre-owned market, there are others - particularly those with rare dials or those crafted from precious metals - that can cost as much as a solid gold President.
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.
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.
With that in mind, here is a list of most references that have been produced throughout history, although some of the older vintage references may not have the model name on their dials.
Browsing through the list of Testimonees 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. While Switzerland’s most famous son – 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. 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.
The most common variation of the Datejust is the 36mm edition. Its design is classic and timeless and it always includes a waterproof case and an automatic winding movement. The Datejust was also the first timepiece to display a jump date mechanism on its dial, a feature that is now a fixture of the Rolex brand. One of the most popular variations of the Datejust on the secondary market is the Rolesor steel and gold option, which is available with either white or yellow gold. Many collectors seek this take on the classic Datejust for its use of precious metal as well as its attractive price tag.
Newer variations include the most recent "White Rolesor" ref. 126234 in Oystersteel and white gold, and the "Yellow Rolesor" ref. 126233 in Oystersteel and yellow gold. More common variations on the pre-owned market include the reference 116234 and 16234 (steel/white gold) and 116233 and 16233 (steel/yellow gold). Older and newer references each bring their own aesthetic to the table. What it really comes down to when choosing between the two is personal style and budget.