CHRONEXT Guide: Professional tips for the Rolex bestseller Datejust


by Nils Rau

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July 12. 2018 - by Nils Rau

A revolution in the watch industry and a classic that stands for timeless elegance: The Rolex Datejust collection is more versatile than any other. Rolex Datejust 36 vs. Datejust 41, are there other differences besides the size? How do you recognise the latest Rolex caliber? From Oyster to Jubilée, from Yellow Gold to Everose - get to know three Rolex Datejust models in comparison!


The Rolex Datejust: an unprecedented success story

In 1945, Rolex introduced the Datejust to mark the company's 40th anniversary. The new model was a revolution: The Datejust was the first watch with a date that automatically changed at midnight. The characteristic date window, however, was added eleven years later - in 1954. Although it can easily be overlooked due to the minor optical change, the Datejust has become very technically advanced and sophisticated in more than 70 years.

The Datejust has always existed in numerous variants. The various options make it possible to design the watch as desired and to obtain exactly the model that suits your personal taste. In addition to the choice of materials, bezel, bracelet and numerous different dials, there are now five different diameters, including the Rolex Date. The Datejust 41 presented in 2016 is especially an exciting model, because it corresponds to the current zeitgeist in terms of size and at the same time possesses all classic style elements of the Datejust. The size of 36 millimeters, on the other hand, corresponds to the classic diameter.

The unmistakable Datejust design

The designs of all three models (Ref. 116200, Ref. 126231 and Ref. 126333) are almost identical. This isn’t really surprising, because all design elements of the watches are very typical and characteristic Datejust features. This particularly applies to the smooth and ribbed bezel, the Oyster and Jubilée strap as well as the hands and dials.

There have been four different materials or material combinations in the Datejust portfolio for a few years now: Oystersteel, Oystersteel White Gold, Oystersteel Yellow Gold and Oystersteel Everose Gold. The term Oystersteel was first introduced at Baselworld 2018 and refers only to the 904L stainless steel used by Rolex. The precious metals are 24 carat alloys, the yellow gold is accordingly pleasantly warm and strong. The combination of Oystersteel yellow gold is particularly charming, because it combines the everyday wearability of stainless steel with the shine of gold. The Ref. 126231 with the Everose-Gold-Mix is a lot more discreet: The gold tone comes across much more discreetly than yellow gold and can therefore be worn a little more inconspicuously.

There have been four different materials or material combinations in the Datejust portfolio for a few years now: Oystersteel, Oystersteel White Gold, Oystersteel Yellow Gold and Oystersteel Everose Gold. The term Oystersteel was first introduced at Baselworld 2018 and refers only to the 904L stainless steel used by Rolex. The precious metals are 24 carat alloys, the yellow gold is accordingly pleasantly warm and strong. The combination of Oystersteel yellow gold is particularly charming, because it combines the everyday wearability of stainless steel with the shine of gold. The Ref. 126231 with the Everose-Gold-Mix is a lot more discreet: The gold tone comes across much more discreetly than yellow gold and can therefore be worn a little more inconspicuously.

Two sizes, three casing shapes

Nevertheless, the first glance may be deceptive - because all our three models have a different case: Although two of the watches have a 36-millimeter case, the Datejust in the Oystersteel-Everose Gold combination already has the revised Oyster case as the 36-millimeter Datejust has been discreetly revised at this year's Baselworld (so far this only applies to the Bi-Color models). In addition to a new generation of movements, the horns in particular have become a little slimmer and now resemble a more conventional appearance.

What seems to be a welcoming change especially due to the frequently expressed criticism of the "pug casing", may actually not be the case. With the widening of the horns, Rolex has managed to make the watches appear a little more prominent and to follow the trend towards larger timepieces without increasing the diameter. In other words: Due to the slimmer horns of ref. 126231, the watch looks a little more delicate but also a little smaller.

The Datejust 41, on the other hand, offers a contemporary size as well as a harmonious casing. The evolution of beauty makes sense here, since it is the successor of the somewhat audacious and only short time produced Datejust II.

By the way, all three watches have one impressive thing in common in terms of beauty, which cannot be compared to the block-like cases of the Rolex sports models. This becomes most evident when you look at the curved lines of the cases from the side.

Old and new caliber generation: a question of detail

When it comes to interior design, Datejust 41 and the revised Datejust 36 are far ahead with both watches being equipped with the latest generation of Rolex movements. This innovation can be seen in the second number of the reference number: If this number is a two, the new caliber is already installed in the watch. It can be assumed that Rolex will gradually equip all its watches with the new generation of movements.

The new movement is the Rolex Caliber 3235 - in contrast to its predecessor, the caliber 3135 also used in the ref. 116200, this movement has a high power reserve of about 70 hours, the new Chronergy escapement, an optimised movement and an improved self winding mechanism.

In everyday use, these innovations - except for the better power reserve when you wear your watches alternately - should not be very noticeable. Above all, the main technical aspects of all three watches are the same: the models are water-resistant up to 100 metres and offer quick date adjustment in addition to a stop-seconds function.

The conclusion: one classic, a thousand faces

73 years is a long time. So it is all the more impressive that the Datejust is so modern despite its classic appearance and the minor aesthetic changes. That's what makes it so attractive: To buy a timeless watch that is up-to-date yesterday, today and tomorrow and always looks good.

I had the three Datejust models discussed in this article on my wrist very recently. If I had to decide, I would choose Datejust 36 - because of its size. The Datejust 41 fits my wrist perfectly and the Datejust 36 looks a bit too small at first. But this is a matter of habit and 36 millimetres is the classic men's size. My intention when buying a Rolex Datejust would be to be able to wear the watch always and on all occasions, and the 36 millimetres is perfect for that.

Incidentally, despite the older movement, I would consciously choose the Datejust 36 with the old case. The reference 116200 is still quite prominent due to the wide horns. If you choose this watch, you shouldn't wait too long as we may see the launch of a slimmer stainless steel Datejust at the next Baselworld.

Nils Rau

by Nils Rau

Nils is a guest author for the CHRONEXT Journal. He currently dedicates most of his free time to wristwatches – be that talking with friends, browsing through blogs and online magazines, or keeping an eye on the timepiece stock exchange. When he is not contributing to the CHRONEXT Journal, he works as a junior lawyer in Northern Germany. His articles focus on brands, trends, as well as the philosophical questions within the world of fine watches.

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