Few luxury timepieces can claim the same level of history and prestige as the Rolex Datejust. The Datejust is widely known to be Rolex’s flagship dress watch and is one of the most iconic models in the Swiss watchmaker’s collection.
Debuted in 1945, the Rolex Datejust is the first-ever automatic chronometer that features a date window. Over the years, despite the various design and mechanical changes, the Rolex Datejust has retained its signature look.
When it comes to the Datejust, people have one common question: the Rolex Datejust 36 vs 41, which is better? If you have this predicament, I say that it’s a good problem to have. Let’s find out what’s the difference between the Rolex Datejust 36 and Rolex Datejust 41.
Rolex Datejust 36 vs 41: Specs Comparison
Before we get to the meat of this Rolex head-to-head, let’s first check out the specs and features of these two Datejust models.
|Model:||Rolex Datejust 36||Rolex Datejust 41|
|Model case:||Oyster, 36 mm, Oystersteel and white gold||Oyster, 41 mm, Oystersteel|
|Oyster architecture:||Monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown||Monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown|
|Material:||White Rolesor – combination of Oystersteel and 18 ct white gold||Oystersteel|
|Winding crown:||Screw-down, Twinlock double waterproofness system||Screw-down, Twinlock double waterproofness system|
|Crystal:||Scratch-resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens over the date||Scratch-resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens over the date|
|Water Resistance:||100 meters / 330 feet||100 meters / 330 feet|
|Movement:||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding||Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding|
|Caliber:||3235, Manufacture Rolex||3235, Manufacture Rolex|
|Functions:||Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting||Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting|
|Oscillator:||Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. High-performance Paraflex shock absorbers||Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. High-performance Paraflex shock absorbers|
|Power reserve:||70 hours||70 hours|
|Clasp:||Folding Oysterclasp with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link||Folding Oysterclasp with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link|
Rolex Datejust 36 Review
For this head-to-head review, we’ll be referencing the Rolex Datejust 36 Ref. 126234 which is an update to the classic Rolex Datejust reference 16234. This is the new 2019 model which comes in two versions: the black dial model and the mother-of-pearl configuration with diamond hour markers.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
When it comes to the Datejust 36, Rolex hasn’t messed with its success formula. Ever since its debut, the Datejust 36 has only seen subtle improvements with each iteration. With that said, the design of the Datejust 36 is still wonderfully classic.
The crux of the Datejust 36’s design is its Coke-bottle shape which pretty much didn’t change over the years. This quintessential design enables the Datejust 36 to fit any wrist, suits, or occasion.
For the 2019 version, the Oystersteel case features a more streamlined profile that reminds me of luxurious sailboats. The toned contours give the watch a more professional but at the same time sporty look. I love how the case lines look sharp and defined.
As for the dial, the Ref. 126234 has received a bit of makeover. The railroad track has been replaced with the simplistic index markers. This change has opened up some space in the dial which I like. Another noteworthy change is that the hour hands can almost touch the hour indices.
At 12 o’clock, you can find the iconic five-pointed coronet that’s is white-gold finished, like the rest of the hands and indices. However, the coronet looks rounder and gentler while the hands look a bit chunkier like a Kit-Kat bar. Legibility has always been excellent with the Rolex Datejust 36 and that’s further reinforced with the empirical Cyclops lens that magnifies the date aperture.
Construction and Wearability
The Rolex Datejust 36 successfully married functionality and luxury. The signature fluted bezel is not just there for looks but it was originally used for screwing the bezel onto the case, protecting it from water. The fluting in this version is now less pronounced but its waterproofness is still intact.
The bracelet is now a 5-piece link Jubilee that’s a bit of a throwback to the original design. The three center links are polished while the outer links are satin-finished and polished edges.
While I’m not a big fan of this elaborate bracelet design, the addition of more links provides better comfort – something that I can’t argue with. The Jubilee bracelet comes with the 5 mm Easylink extension which makes adjusting a breeze.
Due to its size, the Datejust 36 is essentially a unisex watch. However, as expected, the size might be too small for people with larger wrists. In this regard, you’re better off with the Datejust 41.
The new Datejust 36 is powered by the caliber 3235 movement. As you might know, this new-gen movement offers an accuracy of -2 / +2 seconds a day deviation, meeting the official chronometer (COSC) standards.
This is perhaps the biggest novelty component of the new Rolex Datejust 36.
Also, the watch is equipped with Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, adding a great deal of robustness to the movement. The 70-hour power reserve makes this watch a true powerhouse. Of course, there’s the perfectly cut date window that’s magnified by the Cyclops lens.
Not much can be said about the timekeeping quality. It’s accurate, reliable, and certainly top-of-the-line.
Rolex Datejust 41 Review
For this Rolex Datejust 36 vs 41 comparison, we will take a look at the Rolex Datejust 41 ref. 126300. We’ll go with this model because it’s very popular among collectors.
Obviously, the key design element of the Datejust 41 is the “41” part which refers to the case size. Back then, many people were excited about the case update since Rolex will be bringing the Datejust to a modern case size. The Rolex Datejust II also came in 41mm case but the bulkier profile turned some people off.
For many people, the Datejust 41 is just the perfect size of the timeless classic.
The Oystersteel material looks iconic and elegant as usual. I actually prefer the steel version of the Datejust 41 just because it’s stylistically versatile and not to mention, lesser on the price tag as well.
All the familiar design elements that people enjoyed with the Datejust is here. The beautiful fluted bezel (originally a coin-style bezel) looks true to form. The hallmark Cyclops lens is still here and does a great job of magnifying the date window.
I’ve always been partial to dark dials, so the dark rhodium dial of this model
The good thing about the Datejust 41 is that it’s available in many different dial designs such as champagne, silver, blue, dark rhodium, and white.
Construction and Wearability
As with the Datejust 36, the 41 comes with the signature Oystersteel bracelet. This reference model also comes with a five-piece link metal Jubilee bracelet. Due to the added links, the bracelet feels softer and more comfortable.
You can find a concealed attachment system underneath the bezel which provides a more seamless look. As expected the signature folding Oysterclasp is here and has also received the Easylink 5 mm extension link treatment.
The 41mm size feels just right and sits nicely on the wrist. While it’s larger, the Datejust 41 features a slim profile and tapered lugs that allow superior comfort. The size is probably the biggest advantage of the Datejust 41 over the 36.
The in-house 3235 movement is the perfect timekeeping engine for a luxury watch such as this. Boasting 14 patents, this is one of the best movements by Rolex in terms of reliability and accuracy. The Chronergy escapement is a great addition that improves the movement’s efficiency. With a power reserve of 70 hours, you can stop wearing this watch for 3 days before it runs out of juice.
Like all Rolex models, the accuracy is rated at +2/-2 seconds a day and is Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. The 3235 movement is not just an evolution of the well-known 3135 / 3136 movements. Rolex has made sure that it’s a proper upgrade with over 90% parts that are new.
With the Datejust 41, timekeeping accuracy and reliability are concerns that you can throw out the window.
Rolex Datejust 36 vs 41: The Verdict
We wrap up our Rolex Datejust 36 vs 41 comparison with our verdict. Which Datejust model is better?
This one is a tough call because as you can see, both watches are essentially the same. Ultimately, your decision will boil down whether you prefer a 36mm or 41mm case size. If your wrist belongs in the larger end of the spectrum, the Datejust 41 is an easy choice. The Datejust 36 simply looks miniature on a larger wrist. Some people don’t mind the smaller size since it goes well with most office clothing and dress shirts.
Also, you can make a case for the 36 that the classic 3-hand and date dial looks better on a smaller watch. The design elements are simply spaced out better when looking at a smaller dial.
The Datejust 41 is a replacement for the Rolex Datejust II, so it’s basically Rolex’s way of correcting some things. True enough, the 41 did a lot of things right and it’s essentially the epitome of a “classic casual watch.”
Again, this all comes down if you prefer a 36mm or 41mm timepiece. Either, it’s hard to go wrong with either Datejust model.