Rolex Datejust vs. Submariner: Comparing Apples and Oranges

(Last Updated On: September 17, 2018)

Today, we’re going to have another head-to-head between two of the widely-considered best timepieces in Rolex’s stable.

It’s the Rolex Datejust vs. Submariner.

The Datejust is a long-standing, self-winding waterproof chronometer watch that is designed to display the date in a 3 o’clock window. Its design is classic and elegant and makes a strong, yet subtle statement.

On the other hand, we have the Submariner, which is definitely a classic piece and a timeless timekeeping icon.

If you are stuck choosing between the Datejust and Submariner, I have to say that it’s a good problem to have.

One is widely regarded as the perfect dress timepiece while the other is the quintessential dive watch. If you have to ask me, I prefer the Rolex Submariner. It’s one of my favorite watches ever for its classic design and reliability. However, if you really want to compare these two Rolexes, you’ll find that it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Let’s take a closer look.

Rolex Datejust Review

For this head-to-head, we’re going to focus on the popular Rolex Datejust 41. Let’s first take a look at the key specifications of this Rolex model:

Model Rolex Datejust 41
Model case Oyster, 41 mm, Oystersteel and white gold
Oyster architecture Monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown
Diameter 41 mm
Material White Rolesor
Bezel Fluted
Winding Crown Screw-down, Twinlock double waterproofness system
Crystal Scratch-resistant sapphire, Cyclops lens over the date
Water-resistance Waterproof to 100 meters / 330 feet
Movement Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding
Calibre 3235
Precision -2/+2 sec/day, after casing
Functions 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
Winding Bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor
Power reserve Approx. 70 hours
Bracelet Oyster, five-piece links
Bracelet material Oystersteel
Clasp Folding Oysterclasp with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link
Dial Dark rhodium
Details Highly legible Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence
Certification Superlative Chronometer (COSC + Rolex certification after casing)

Design

The Rolex Datejust 41 features design elements that made the Rolex brand an iconic name. The fluted bezel, Oyster bracelet, and the Cyclops magnifying lens above the date window are all here and share the same elements with other Rolex models.

One of the most striking elements of the Datejust is the blue dial. When I first saw the blue rhodium dial, it was love at first sight. The color of the dial makes the Datejust a very versatile men’s dress watch. Along with the fluted bezel, you got yourself a watch that’s oozing with elegance. It’s worth noting that the Datejust 41 is also available in a smooth bezel.

For the most part, I love the form factor of the Datejust 41. In my opinion, it just features a much better shape and proportions than the previous iteration of the model. I was never a fan of the previous versions of the Datejust because they look quite small in my wrist. The 41mm-wide size has vastly improved the Datejust over the Rolex Datejust II.

Compared to the Datejust II, the 41 looks a bit slimmer with a larger dial aperture and complemented with a thinner bezel. It’s also worth noting that the hour markers are a bit thinner.

The date on the Datejust 41 is displayed in a window at 3 o’clock which changes instantly at midnight in a few thousandths of a second. The Cyclops lens on the crystal makes it easy to read the date because of the magnification.

Construction and Wearability

rolexdatejust

My Rolex Datejust 41 comes with the signature Oystersteel bracelet which is just the way I like it. The piece is also available in Jubilee. Both models feature the new concealed attachment system underneath the bracelet. This enables the bracelet to connect easily to the case. The Datejust 41 uses the same folding Oysterclasp for closing the bracelet.

Adjustability is also never a problem due to the patented Easylink rapid extension system, which allows you to adjust the bracelet length by up to 5mm. This is such a good system for those hot summer days when you need to roll up your sleeves.

In terms of durability, the watch is made from Rolesor material which is essentially a combination of Oystersteel and 18 ct white gold. So when it comes to toughness, I don’t think there’s anything to be worried about when it comes to Rolexes. The crystal is made from scratch-resistant sapphire and the watch is waterproof up to 100 meters.

Timekeeping

rolex3235movement

The Datejust 41 is equipped with the new-gen 3235 Movement. This self-winding mechanical movement boasts about 14 patents including the new Chronergy escapement. This escapement system helps with combining high energy efficiency and dependability. Precision is -2/+2 sec/day after casing which is pretty much standard Rolex precision.

The movement is also certified by COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute) and has received the Rolex certification after casing. Nothing much can be said here except it’s Rolex, so expect state-of-the-line accurate timekeeping.

Rolex Submariner Review

For this section, we will focus on the Rolex Submariner Ref. 114060. First, let’s take a look at some of the key specs of this iconic watch:

Model Rolex Submariner Ref. 114060
Model case Oyster, 40 mm, Oystersteel
Oyster architecture Monobloc middle case, screw-down case back and winding crown
Diameter 40 mm
Material Oystersteel
Bezel Unidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated bezel
Winding Crown Screw-down, Twinlock double waterproofness system
Crystal Scratch-resistant sapphire
Water-resistance Waterproof to 300 metres / 1,000 feet
Movement Perpetual, mechanical, self-winding
Calibre 3130
Precision -2/+2 sec/day, after casing
Functions Centre hour, minute and seconds hands. Instantaneous date with rapid setting. Stop-seconds for precise time setting
Oscillator Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring
Winding Bidirectional self-winding via Perpetual rotor
Power reserve Approx. 48 hours
Bracelet Oyster, flat three-piece links
Bracelet material Oystersteel
Clasp Folding Oysterlock safety clasp with Rolex Glidelock extension system
Dial Black
Details Highly legible Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence
Certification Superlative Chronometer (COSC + Rolex certification after casing)

Design

The Rolex Submariner Ref. 114060 has gone through several design changes.

First, the 40mm stainless steel case features a slightly different shape. The overall shape is rather square-ish with thicker lugs. This makes the watch looks more imposing. I have always liked this design as it looks more robust and tougher-looking.

The unidirectional bezel is equipped with a ceramic bezel insert. If anyone can recall, previous Submariner models had aluminum inserts. The new bezel looks shinier, especially under certain lighting conditions. The new bezel is much more scratch-resistant and the engraving really adds to the depth and texture of the watch.

The Submariner features the iconic black dial which makes it an excellent watch for all occasions. The indices are now larger and laced with Chromalight illumination. All of the markers are lined with an 18K white gold frame which adds to its overall sleekness. Legibility is top-notch which is a must if somehow you want to use it as a dive watch.

In terms of looks, you can’t go wrong with the Submariner.

Construction and Wearability

Being a dive watch, the Submariner is waterproof to 300 meters or 1,000 feet. The winding crown is outfitted with the Rolex signature TRIPLOCK triple waterproofness system.

The middle case is made from super high-quality 904L corrosive resistant steel. What I enjoy about the Submariner’s stainless steel case is that it’s highly polishable which means that it gets more beautiful as the years go by.

The bracelet is fitted with the solid-link OYSTER bracelet in 904L steel. It’s also worth noting that it comes with the new OYSTERLOCK safety clasp and glidelock extension system. This allows you to adjust the length of the bracelet in 2 mm increments up to 20 mm – without needing any tools. This makes the watch highly adjustable for achieving the best comfort.

Timekeeping

rolexcalibre3130

The Submariner Ref. 114060 is powered by Rolex’s Calibre 3130 – a self-winding movement that is about as basic as you can get when it comes to timekeeping. The movement features a 48-hour power reserve and it is also Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified.

Compared to the previous versions, the movement has gone through some changes as well. Perhaps the most obvious one is its oscillator which is now fitted with Blue Parachrom hairspring. This makes the movement less vulnerable to magnetic forces and shocks.

The 3130 is not really mindblowingly spectacular but that’s fine since it’s meant to be a tool watch. However, it’s hard not to be impressed with the movement when it comes to robustness and reliability. Mine is still in tip-top shape despite the occasional knocks and rough treatment.

The Verdict

So which timepiece wins this head to head?

Well, this one is a tough call. If I can have my way, I will get both since they are both excellent Rolexes. Both watches can be worn with just about anything, have excellent water resistance, and they both have a killer aesthetic. The prices of both watches are quite comparable as well.

However, we know that’s not exactly a cheap option so if you have to choose one, I will recommend the Submariner.

The Submariner is not very flashy, which makes it more ideal for everyday wear. The Datejust brings the “bling” into the table and is more appropriate for formal and dressy events. If a date feature is an absolute must-have for you, then the Datejust becomes a no-brainer.

Again, it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

Wrapping Up

Both the Datejust and Submariner are top-notch high-end watches. I say, go to your local AD and give these watches a try. It’s probably the only way for you to tell for sure.

Enjoy the free coffee and the amazing experience of buying a lovely new watch!

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