The most distinctive feature of any Rolex Datejust II or Rolex Day-Date II watch is the famous fluted bezel. It is actually possible to get these models with a domed and polished bezel versus a fluted one. But what is the fun in that? You get these for the famous bezel that has marked an extremely historic design. Rolex fluted bezels only come in a precious metal. For example, even on the otherwise all steel version of the Rolex Datejust II, the bezel is in 18k white gold. If you want an all steel Rolex Datejust II you need to opt for the steel domed bezel. Rolex produces its fluted bezels in all colors of gold but not platinum at this time.
An important thing to mention here, is that Rolex offers many more versions of the Rolex Day-Date II than they do the Rolex Datejust II. However, each year they release new models and are slowly beefing up the Rolex Datejust II model ranks. Currently, the Rolex Datejust II is offered in all steel (ref. 116300), two-tone steel and 18k yellow gold (ref. 116333), and steel and 18k white gold (ref. 116334). This latter model is what I am reviewing. Each of the models at this time also have various dial options, and you are covered if you like baton or Arabic numeral hour markers.
Rolex has fleshed out the Rolex Day-Date II collection much more than the Rolex Datejust II at this time. The Rolex Day-Date II is only available in precious metals and there is no steel version. You can get the Rolex President in 18k white gold, yellow gold, pink gold, or platinum. Reviewed here is the Rolex Day-Date II ref. 218235, which is actually the second least expensive Rolex President watch. The least expensive is about $2,700 cheaper in 18k yellow gold. That feels like a rather large price difference from 18k yellow to 18k pink gold, even if it is Rolex’s in-house produced Everose gold whose color is said not to fade.
Based on that information, you can see why the Rolex Day-Date II is the “fancier” model. Rolex has intentionally offered distinct metal choices so as to give each of the watches a different type of buyer. There are also other differences such as the available bracelet as well as the dial choices. But all in all, these are very similar timepieces in theme and style for most watch lovers. I tend to find that older, more distinguished people wear a Rolex Day-Date II, while younger or less successful (though still a success) people wear a Rolex Datejust II.
For example, I once met a wealthy businessman from Lagos, Nigeria. Of course he was wearing a solid 18k rose gold Rolex Day-Date II. He was well versed in watches so I inquired as to why he chose a Rolex. He said that there was a very simple reason. In Africa they don’t have many watch lovers. There, people worry about government or status instability, so what they care about are things with lasting value. This Rolex was perfect. The large amount of gold on the case and bracelet has enduring value, while the Rolex name offered the same type of assurance. It was a logical and very meaningful explanation on why people might prefer a watch like the Rolex President. It allows them to help carry a sort of financial insurance policy around on them. It is a sad reminder of how little residual value so many other watches have.
Yes, I spent almost the entire review without discussing the Rolex Datejust and Rolex Day-Date names, but they are pretty straightforward aren’t they? The 1950s Rolex developed its cyclops magnifier lens on the sapphire crystal as a way to more easily read the date. The Rolex Datejust name came from the fact that the watch had the time and the date – very original I know. Inside of the Rolex Datejust II is the in-house made Rolex caliber 3136 automatic COSC Chronometer certified mechanical movement. In the Rolex Day-Date II you have the in-house made Rolex caliber 3156 automatic movement that is also COSC Chronometer certified. Similar to the 3136, the 3156 adds a day of the week disc that fully spells out a day of the week at 12 o’clock.
Both the Rolex Datejust II and Rolex Day-Date II watches have famously legible and attractive dials. The Rolex Datejust II has baton or Arabic hour numerals while the Day-Day II has baton or Roman numeral hour markers. Aside from style differences it should be noted that the sportier Rolex Datejust II has lume on its dial while the Rolex Day-Date II dials do not have applied luminant on them (for viewing the dial in the dark).
Aside from the Submariner, the Rolex Datejust is probably the second most popular Rolex timepiece, and among the brand’s higher-end models, the Rolex Day-Date II is among the top choices next to fancier versions of the Daytona. Depending on your budget there are lots of versions, and these are great watches to own being classics in their own right and extremely good keepers of value. Complaints? Really not many. Rolex has so many types of watches that there is something for everyone. Sadly you cannot mix and match cases and bracelets unless you buy the complete pieces that have those cases and bracelets. Though each does look good on a nice strap. For mere style, there are less expensive options out there compared to Rolex. Though for style, prestige, and value retention these watches are a good bet. The Rolex Datejust II 116334 as reviewed retails for $9,100, while the Rolex Day-Date II 218235 retails for $37,850. rolex.com
>Model: Datejust II and Day-Date II
>Price: $9,100 – $37,850 as reviewed
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Someone wanting a safe choice for a high-end classic watch and status symbol.
>Best characteristic of watch: Timeless design and formal yet masculine spirit. A true classic that wears well and mostly retains value.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Limiting options as Rolex wants to push you into a certain type of model if you are looking to spend a certain amount.