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Rolex Day-Date versus the DateJust — a tale of two Kings

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When it comes to a comparison between the Rolex Day Date and Datejust many wonder just how to choose which model is best. We sat down with Paul Altieri, Founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches to get some insight. 

Everybody loves a good battle. There’s something satisfying about going toe-to-toe with a fearsome foe and being the one that walks away.

And so, you’ll be pleased to hear I imagine, that you’ve stumbled across a right Royal rumble. Today, those of us lucky enough to have happened upon this little corner of the internet are about to witness two kings go to war, as the legendary Rolex DateJust takes on its esteemed progeny, the Rolex Day-Date.

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Okay, don’t worry. There won’t be any bloodshed (a bit of lubricant, maybe, but nothing too gruesome). These two behemoths of the horological world know how to conduct themselves and the fight will be fought with honor. With both sluggers having proved themselves in possession of remarkable stamina, this one’s likely going to the judges’ scorecards, so get yours ready.

Two models from each family are about to duke it out in the name of the crown.

It’s time for the throne to be won and lost…

 

 

First to enter the ring, hailing from the Datejust corner, is the thoroughly bonkers Rolex Datejust 16018 Chevy Diamond Dial. This is the kind of watch that divides opinion, with its unusually-patterned dial, diamond hour markers, and all-gold persuasion. It is bling to the max, and far from a shrinking violet.

If this watch were a person he would probably have a loud voice and take three sugars in his tea. But as much you’d love him to shut-up, you’re kind of glad that people like him exist.

Why? They make the world an interesting, colorful place. I’ve always thought that there is no greater criticism of design than apathy. An indifferent audience equals failure. But a product that can be at once lionized and loathed (perhaps even by the same person) is something special.

Will this watch be a best-seller? No. But for as many wish lists upon which this one fails to feature, it will top a fair few as well. A true product of its time, reference 16018 may have been born in 1987, but it looks like its still got plenty of bite of about it.

Who knows? Maybe it will win…

 

 

But what’s this? A clean-lined, white gold Rolex Day-Date 1118209 from the year 2000 has just jumped the ropes. Now here’s a cool customer. An icy white dial, decorated with applied Roman Numerals, a clean railroad minute track, and a high polished case and professional bracelet combo to die for. It’s a subtle superstar, a quiet maestro, a devastating assassin.

Before the Chevy Diamond Dial knows what’s hit it, it’s on its back, Jubilee bracelet collapsed in a limp pile of links. Above it, victorious (for now, at least) reference 1118209 laments that it has no arms to raise aloft, as this would have been the perfect time for such a show of dominance.

And for the most part, the Rolex Day-Date knows a lot about time, but that doesn’t mean it’s able to meet everyone’s tastes and expectations as the desire for a more modern profile creeps along.

 

 

Our next contender, stepping into the fray, is a real heavyweight. The Rolex Datejust Two-Tone Everose Gold 126331 measures an enormous 41mm, dwarfing his 36mm opponent.

It glowers with contempt at the Day-Date’s smooth bezel and inclines its head so that light glints off the sharply-faceted surfaces of his fluted counterpart.

Here we have a truly modern fighter. Hours in the gym, building size and strength, and less time on the speedball have made the 126331 a blunter instrument than the earlier 1118209, but to cover this up, a sheen of style is added with the addition of Everose.

The central links of the professional bracelet and the precious metal fluted bezel work beautifully with the chocolate brown sun-ray dial, with applied Chromalight markers.

A rehaut ring repeatedly engraved with the Rolex word mark and logo is a dazzling sight.

The poor, befuddled Day-Date doesn’t know where to look and is caught off guard by the three-year-old fighter.

Just when we thought the Day-Date family might finish this fight in time for an early bath, a knockout blow is struck. The newest of the Datejust family has one hand on the crown…

 

 

 

But wait. All is not lost. The old man remains. To a chorus of cheers (and the distant sound of angels bugling their little hearts out), the Rolex Day-Date 18038 from the late seventies slides into the ring. Spry and nimble for such an old fighter, the watch befitting a president’s wrist has come to dance.

Where every millimeter of the 126331’s diameter was an advantage against the other Day-Date, here the 36mm solid yellow gold masterpiece makes it look like unnecessary padding.

The Rolex Day-Date 18038 is a lesson in the effective use of space. Just as every element of the dial occupies just the right territory, so too does this elegant and ageless fighter make use of the ring. He bobs. He weaves. He slips a heavy punch from the clueless youngster, and, with a twist and a whip, sends the cruiser crashing to the mat.

Proud and victorious, the king of all date watches, the Rolex Day-Date 18038 stands (in excellent condition for its age) in the center of the ring, a stoic reminder of timeless class and why nobody will take its crown without a fight.

 

About the author: Paul Altieri is the Founder and CEO of Bob’s Watches, the leading online destination for used Rolex watches. Determined to make Bob’s Watches a transparent and fair marketplace for second-hand luxury watches, Paul created the Pre-Owned Rolex Exchange Concept to allow consumers to see both buy and sell prices. Paul is also a passionate watch collector with many vintage, rare, and collectible timepieces in his private collection.

 

 

 

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Rob Corder

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