Rolex Datejust & Day-Date II

Rolex Datejust and Day-Date II: Why were they Short Lived?

It can be said that Rolex’s golden era was the mid-1940s to 1950s, when they launched one emblematic design after another – the Datejust, Submariner, Day-Date, and the GMT-Master. Their 21st century versions are still very close to the original, proving the timelessness of the brand’s design DNA.

That’s not to say that Rolex doesn’t respond to changes in the market. Due to the preference for larger watches in the new millennium, they introduced bigger versions of their famed dress watches: the Rolex Day-Date II and Rolex Datejust II. However, these models lasted less than a decade, and were eventually replaced with newer iterations.

Why are the Rolex Day-Date and Datejust II still sought-after in the pre-owned market – and what changes did Rolex make to their new counterparts? Check out our quick guide:


Rolex Day-Date and Datejust: Quintessential Dress Watches

The Rolex Datejust was launched in 1945. It became the first self-winding chronometer wristwatch to indicate the date in a window, which automatically changed at midnight.

It was recognized as Rolex’s signature timepiece, bearing many of the features we see on Rolex watches today: the fluted bezel, the Cyclops window, the two-tone metal combination Rolesor, and the Jubilee bracelet.


Rolex Datejust 36mm watches in Rolesor Steel Yellow Gold


The Day-Date, which would eventually be known as the Rolex President, made its first appearance in 1956.

It was introduced as the flagship model of Rolex, and bore distinctive features that set it apart from the rest of the portfolio. It is only produced in gold or platinum. Moreover, it was the first watch to display the day of the week on the dial, in addition to the date.


President Day-Date
Rolex President Day-Date White Gold 36mm Diamond Mens Watch


For more than half a century, the Rolex Datejust and Day-Date came in the traditional 36mm size case. This made the Datejust perfect for everyday wear; and the Day-Date for pairing with a suit.



The Large Watch Trend: Rolex Datejust II and Day-Date II

In the years leading to the new millennium, watches measuring more than 40mm started gaining popularity. Rolex responded by offering beefier and sportier versions of their modestly-sized dress watches.

Rolex unveiled the 41mm sized Rolex Day-Date II in 2008, then followed it up with the similar-sized Datejust II a year after.


Datejust II
Rolex Datejust II in Rolesor steel yellow gold


The Day-Date II is definitely the glitzier of the two, and while they run on different calibers (3156 for the Day-Date II, and 3136 for the Datejust II), they possess almost identical Oyster cases.

Both watches are seen as sportier versions of the traditional Day-Date and Datejust, as they wear large on the wrist with their wider lugs and bracelets.


President Day-Date II
Rolex President Day-Date II with Rolex President Datejust Ladies Watch



Scaling back with the Rolex Day-Date 40 and Datejust 41

Less than a decade in, the Rolex Day-Date II was replaced with the Day-Date 40 range in 2015. The year after, the Rolex Datejust II was discontinued to make way for the Datejust 41.


Datejust II vs 41
Rolex Datejust II vs Rolex Datejust 41

Rolex clearly scaled back on heft for both models. The Datejust 41 retained the same 41mm case size, while the Day-Date 40 featured a slightly smaller case. What’s apparent for both models are the thinner profiles, slimmer lugs and bracelets, and the more elegant look overall.

One can say that the beefy look of the Rolex Day-Date II and Datejust II may address the ongoing demand for larger watches, but they may not be timeless enough to wear for decades – exactly the kind of endurance most Rolex watches possess.


President Day-Date
Rolex President Day-Date II 41mm vs Rolex Day-Date 40 (picture: Rolex)


With their tapered designs, the Rolex Day-Date 40 and Datejust 41 are large enough to fit in with today’s large watch trends, but still thin enough to sit comfortably on the wrist and classic enough to be worn for decades.

Still, there are many Rolex Day-Date II and Datejust II fans who still enjoy the oversized look of these watches; and they continue to be popular in the pre-owned market today.

As they say, “go big, or go home” – and there are watch lovers who want no less than the biggest and sportiest versions of the iconic Rolex dress watches.




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