Rolex Datejust vs Rolex Date: What’s the Difference?

rolex datejust watches

It’s hard to imagine it now, but the date complication was a game-changer when it was introduced to watches. The Rolex Datejust, launched in 1945, became the first automatic wristwatch whose date instinctively changed at midnight.

Watch wearers no longer had to look up the date and manually change it on their timepieces. At long last, the date will be just, all the time.

Today, the date function is ubiquitous in watches. Rolex alone has three families of classic watches that focus on telling the date in addition to the time – the Rolex DatejustDate, and the now discontinued Oysterdate Precision.


Let’s take a closer look at each of them.



The Datejust is no doubt the most popular of all three, and is one of the most recognizable watches ever. It was introduced during Rolex’s 40th anniversary, with several milestones attached to it.

It became the first automatic chronometer-rated timepiece with a date window on its dial; and it also debuted with a five-link bracelet aptly called the Jubilee.

Aside from the date function and Jubilee bracelet, the Datejust today is also characterized by the following traits:


Rolex Datejust II Steel Yellow Gold Diamond Watch
The Rolex Datejust is easily Rolex’s most recognizable model.
pictured: Rolex Datejust II Steel Yellow Gold Diamond Watch

Cyclops Lens – added in 1953, Rolex added a Cyclops lens over the date to improve legibility. The lens protrudes from the surface of the glass, just right above the date. Today, every watch with a date function is accompanied by the Cyclops.

Sizes – the most popular size for the Datejust is the classic 36mm, but it comes in a myriad of sizes for men and women: 26mm, 28mm, 31mm, 36mm, and 41mm.


The Rolex Datejust comes in a myriad of sizes, metals, dials, bezels, and bracelet styles.
The Rolex Datejust comes in a myriad of sizes, metals, dials, bezels, and bracelet styles.

Materials – Apart from the variety of sizes, the Rolex Datejust is also available with a good array of metals, dial colors, as well as bezel and bracelet options.

Movement – all Datejust models come with a COSC-certified, automatic winding movements. On the dial of Datejust models are the words Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified to signify this.




At first glance, the Rolex Date is really no different from the Datejust, aside from the word DATE written on its dial. However, there are other slight differences that come with the Date.


Rolex Date models come in different metals - including stainless steel, yellow gold or Rolesor.
Rolex Date models come in different metals – including stainless steel, yellow gold or Rolesor.

Size  the Date only comes in one size – a slightly smaller 34mm case. Given current watch trends, this size makes it a perfect choice for women, too.

With the same size as the Rolex Air-King, one can think of it as a version of the watch that has a date function and Cyclops window.

Materials – while the Datejust is unmatched in terms of variety, the Date also comes comes with plenty of options. Alongside the stainless steel, Rolesor, and yellow gold models are different bezel options, including domed, fluted, and engine-turned.



The Quickset Function

The Rolex Datejust and Date models were both updated with the Quickset date function in 1983, beginning with the ref. 16XXX and ref. 15XXX series respectively.

The Quickset function allowed users to independently adjust the date display, without also adjusting the hands displaying the time. This feature came with the updated Caliber 3035, which was again upgraded to the Caliber 3135 by the late 80s.

This movement is to become Rolex’s longest and most widely-used caliber.


Rolex Date and Rolex Datejust Steel Yellow Gold models with Arabic numeral dials
Rolex Date and Rolex Datejust Steel Yellow Gold models with Arabic numeral dials




In your search for a Rolex calendar watch, you might also encounter the Oysterdate Precision. Introduced in 1950, and discontinued in the 1980s, you’ll still find these models in the pre-owned market.

Just like the Date, it can look like the Datejust at first glance. Here’s what sets the Oysterdate Precision apart:


Rolex Oysterdate Precision
The Rolex Oysterdate Precision has been discontinued since the 1980s, but they are still available in the pre-owned market.

Size – they most commonly come in a 34mm case, but there are 31mm versions, too.

Cyclops – pre-1953 versions don’t have the Cyclops lens, but later versions do.

Movement – The biggest difference lies in their caliber. The Oysterdate Precision runs on a manually-wound movement, unlike the automatic ones that are used to power the Datejust and Date models.

This is why their dials simply say Precision, instead of the Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified marker found on most Rolex watches today.


Calendar watches are timeless and most definitely should have a place in your watch collection. The Rolex Datejust, Date, and Oysterdate Precision are all excellent choices, and you’re sure to find one that suits your needs and taste.






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