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The Rolex Datejust is undoubtedly the brand’s signature model. With its round Oyster case, metal bracelet, and of course, date window at 3 o’clock with the accompanying Cyclops magnification lens, the design of the men’s Datejust is so iconic, it’s easy to spot.
A part of the Rolex catalog since 1945, there have been countless models added to the Datejust family, differing in size, style, and materials. So, to make sense of the vast variety, we’ve divided the men’s Datejust range into five main categories. Read on to find out what they are.
The most traditional and ubiquitous of the men’s Datejust watches are those that sport a 36mm Oyster case. In fact, the inaugural Datejust included a 36mm case and this was the only men’s size available until only eight years ago.
While the first Datejust came with the then-new five-link Jubilee bracelet, men’s Datejust watches eventually became available with Oyster bracelets too. Rolex never furnished Datejust watches with leather bands, but Datejust watches with leather bands are easily found as a custom option.
The Men’s Datejust 36 is an extremely diverse collection. Material choices include stainless steel, two-tone steel and gold, and full gold. There are even diamond men’s Datejust models out there. Dial options are even more varied ranging from solid shades to patterns to more precious options like mother-of-pearl and diamonds. Depending on the model, bezels can be fluted, engine-turned, smooth, or diamond-set.
Though still part of the Datejust collection, the Turn-O-Graph Datejust has specific design details that make the watches stand out, most notably a rotating bezel. That bezel allowed the Datejust Turn-O-Graph to go well beyond dress watch status to include tool watch functionality. As a result, the Datejust Turn-O-Graph became the official watch for the U.S. Air Force’s Thunderbird aerobatic squadron—explaining why this particular men’s Datejust is nicknamed the “Thunderbird.”
The men’s Datejust Turn-O-Graph underwent a few changes throughout its production history. It always had a 36mm Oyster case—available in steel or two-tone versions—and a rotating bezel but Rolex has modified the bezel over the years. The Turn-O-Graph bezels on older versions from the 70s, 80s, and 90s included an intricate thread-like pattern while the newest versions from 2000s onwards included gold fluted bezels. Rolex eventually discontinued the men’s Datejust Turn-O-Graph in 2011.
In the 1970s, Rolex expanded their men’s Datejust collection to include an Oysterquartz version, running on an in-house Rolex quartz caliber—the brand’s answer to the quartz craze sweeping the industry during that era.
Along with its quartz caliber ticking loudly within the watch, the men’s Datejust Oysterquartz also stands out for its distinct angular case and integrated bracelet. Although on paper the Oyster case of the Datejust Oysterquartz also measures 36mm, it actually wears larger than the traditional mechanical men’s Datejust 36 due to its unique shape.
The Datejust Oysterquartz was in production from 1977 for about 25-years. During that time, it was available in full stainless steel or two-tone steel and yellow gold versions. There’s also a choice of an Oyster-style or a Jubilee-style integrated bracelet.
In 2009, Rolex finally unveiled the Datejust II model with a significantly larger 41mm Oyster case, a wider bezel, and thicker lugs. Rolex made the men’s Datejust II available in full stainless steel with a smooth bezel, stainless steel with a white gold bezel, and in two-tone yellow gold and steel. All Datejust II watches come equipped with an Oyster bracelet, emphasizing its sportier approach to Rolex’s signature dress watch.
Rolex ceased production of the Datejust II in 2016 to make way for the newest Datejust 41 models.
The latest model to join the men’s Datejust collection, Rolex introduced the Datejust 41 in 2016 with a new generation movement. Like its predecessor, the Datejust 41 includes a 41mm Oyster case, but it wears slightly smaller thanks to its slimmer profile and thinner bezel.
In addition to full steel, steel with white gold bezel, and two-tone yellow gold and steel models, the men’s Datejust 41 also includes two-tone steel and rose gold editions. Plus, unlike the Datejust II collection, the Datejust 41 offers the choice of a Jubilee bracelet for a dressier option.
A classic in the luxury watch space, few timepieces enjoy the recognition the Rolex Datejust does—regardless of the model. And we’re sure you’ll agree that you simply can’t go wrong with a classic!