Featured Hands-On Rolex

Hands-On: Rolex Datejust 41mm Reference 126334

Rolex has a few iconic watches in its family of watches. Take for example the Rolex Submariner (previously reviewed here) which is the archetypal dive watch. A true icon. And, you can certainly add the Datejust to that select club of icons of the watch world. Close your eyes, think of a wristwatch, and it is likely something very closely resembling the Datejust. 

The Datejust is a bit of a difficult watch to purchase. Not because of that seemingly perpetual shortage of that Oyster steel in the Rolex inventory, but because there are so many delicious choices you have to make before you can order one. In fact, go to the Rolex website and try to select a Datejust. You can’t. You have to configure it, much the same as you would if you’re looking to purchase a car where they walk you through the configurator first. 

Which bracelet do you want? Would you like the bezel to be fluted?  A black or blue dial? Or perhaps a more exotic Wimbledon dial? Do you want perhaps some diamond indices to finish things of? So many options, you’re sure to find one that fits exactly your requirements. The principal watch pictured in this hands-on review has the following options: Black dial,  Oystersteel + white gold fluted bezel, Oyster Bracelet.

If you’re entirely new to the Datejust, let me quickly summarize the essentials: It features the time, and the date which switches instantaneously, in general the indices are luminous (if not diamonds), and many, such as the one for this review, are part of what Rolex calls the Rolesor family. It is essentially a watch that combines both steel & gold in its construction. This particular piece is mainly steel yet has a white gold bezel, so I’d say it still qualifies for the Rolesor name.

Before I continue, perhaps join me for a brief & personal introspective… The older 36mm Datejust watches were and are of course very fine watches. Visually, to me, however they were just that: Old. I’m so used to seeing the 36mm Datejusts on elderly gentlemen, that it somehow never feels quite right when I try one on. It’s me, I know. Enter the 41mm: Just perfect. Everything is just a little bit bigger, everything feels (way) more solid, the clasp, the bracelet, the case, it really feels like what a modern Rolex should feel like. I know that makes little sense, but that’s just how it is. Note that while everything has been upsized a bit, the lugs and overall design is still slender, and not as boxy as you will see with the upsized Submariners etc… What could they possibly still tweak, I have no idea, c’est parfait.

The 41mm case is a modern look, not too big, not too small. It is both classic & modern at the same time. It features a screw down crownCrown The knob on the outside of the watch that you typically use to either wind the mainspring or set the time [Learn More] and  gives you 100m water resistance. Plenty. And Rolex keeps the watch nice and slim, making it a very comfortable wearing piece on the wrist. Helping up the comfort factor by a factor of ‘wow’, is the fantastic modern Rolex bracelet. I really can’t find anything that Rolex can still improve for their Oyster bracelet, it feels fantastic, it wears insanely well, and it is of such a rock solid construction, to me it is the bracelet that rules all other bracelets. 

Strangely enough then, shouting Rolex bracelets being all perfect, the one negative I have been pointed out is the clasp. It is the man responsible for the beautiful photography in this write-up that mentioned it to me, and yes, I have to say I can’t disagree. Not so much the bracelet, but the clasp. Now hang in there, let me explain.

The clasp is absolutely perfect on that oyster bracelet and how it flows beautifully with the links. You can see that very clearly on the above picture. It all works as ‘one’. I’m repeating myself, but it is absolutely perfect. The thing is, should you go for the Jubilee bracelet, which is a dramatically different look, it will use the exact same clasp. This is a bit of an odd choice and I agree that they could have gone for a clasp specifically tailored to that Jubilee look.

Moving on to that dial. First, keep in mind there are many options to choose from. Featured here is the black one. This dial, needs to be seen in person. It features a subtle sunburst effect, it isn’t plain black. In addition, the white gold markers play wonderfully with even the smallest touch of sunlight. In case of lack of light, the Chromalight filled markers will light up in a beautiful blue hue. The hands perfectly fit the overall vibe of the watch and have more than stood the test of time by now. The Datejust has been brought into the 21th Century with the 41mm release, but the face of it still is very much that familiar looking Datejust: 

The watch houses Rolex’s Calibre 3235, which is COSC certified. However, this being Rolex, they also test their watches a second time to make sure your watch is, well, perfect. It has +2/-2 precision. That Rolex makes a reliable movement is by now the world’s worst kept  secret. It features Rolex’s paramagnetic blue parachrom hairspringHairspring The hairspring is a thin spring in a mechanical watch movement that is connected to the balance wheel. The balance wheel oscillates back and forth at a consistent rate, and the hairspring helps regulate these oscillations. The hairspring works by applying a restoring force to the balance wheel, which helps to keep the balance wheel oscillating at a consistent rate. The hairspring is also known as a balance spring. [Learn More] (say that five times in a row, you shall fail) and high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers. Before I forget, the calibre has a very comfortable 70 hour power reserveRéserve de marche Also known as Power Reserve. A watch's power reserve refers to the amount of time a mechanical watch can run without being wound. The power reserve of a mechanical watch can vary depending on the size of the mainspring, the efficiency of the gear train, and the rate at which the mainspring releases energy. If a watch has a Power Reserve 'complication' it simply means that the status of the power reserve can be seen on the watch itself (either on the dial or movement side of the watch). [Learn More].  Perfecty constructed, yet true to Rolex you can’t ever look at it as the watch features a solid caseback. 

The most difficult choice to make when buying a Datejust is not ‘if’ you should buy one. It’s rather, ‘which one? ‘. And with that, the biggest question is which bracelet. The Jubilee is a beauty, and so is the Oyster. On the Jubilee the watch has a bit more bling happening and looks a tad bit more classic. On the Oyster bracelet, with its polished center links, there’s still plenty happening, yet it visibly looks a bit more sporty. Whichever you choose (ignoring the clasp point mentioned above), there is no bad choice. Close second to the choice of bracelet would be which bezel you choose, fluted vs plain. I’d go for fluted myself for that perfect Datejust look,  your miles may vary. 

In conclusion

The Datejust in its 41mm package, is an almost irrestistible package. It makes the cut for that rare perfect ‘one watch’ collection. Buy it, set it, forget it, wear it. Get one and you’re likely set for life. It is a perfect watch, and a perfect collection all on its own. 

Photography by aDutchWrist, Article by Jan de Griff


    1. My words are mere decoration to frame your fantastic photographs my friend, absolutely stunning job (again). Thanks a lot for teaming up for this one!

  1. Fully agree with the old man vibe of the older 36mm version, I thought I was the only one! Nothing wrong with it, just not for me. Great write up of a modern classic and icon. Do I feel a sparkle of lust for one in that writing, Jan? 🙂

  2. I have both old (36mm, yellow gold) and this 41 but with the blue dial. I like both, but wear the 41 the most by far. 36 I keep for sentimental reasons..

  3. I think the clasp on the Jubilee looks great as it is. Where the Jubilee meets the case, you have the juxtaposition of the smooth case lines next to the rolling links of the bracelet. Rolex have designed the endlinks to make it look as though the bracelet is flowing directly out from the case, rather than making it look integrated. There is nothing jarring about the two textures – smooth and rolling – next to each other. Likewise, I don’t find anything jarring about those same two textures adjacent to each other where the bracelet meets the clasp. The smoothness of the clasp matches the smoothness of the case. The bracelet connects the two. The clasp need not match the bracelet exactly, although I appreciate that the polished center of the clasp lines up with the polished center links on the Jubilee, same as on the Oyster bracelet. On the Datejust clasp, there are even rounded edges on the latch-end, complementing the curves of the case. Rolex didn’t simply stick the Oysterlock sports clasp on there – with all its sharp, right angles – and call it a day. They have clearly put thought into the clasp’s aesthetic design.

    Speaking of the Oyster bracelet, the clasp doesn’t exactly match it, either. While the Oyster links are longer and flatter than the Jubilee links, they’re still segmented, unlike the long, uninterrupted stretch of the clasp. Let’s not forget that the earlier, five-digit era Oysterlock clasps were cheesily stamped with a texture to mimic the links of the bracelet. It wasn’t a great look. Older Jubilee Oysterclasps made no attempt to match textures at all. They were just brushed chunks of steel. Today’s Oysterclasp is much more elegant.

    Of course, some lament the fact that the hidden Crownclasp is no longer an option on the Jubilee, now being reserved exclusively for the President bracelet. I’ll grant that the complete lack of a visible clasp precludes any objections over it not matching the bracelet. There is also a certain elegance to it, befitting a flagship watch like the Day-Date. However, one gives up any micro-adjustability at all with Crownclasp. I’m not sure I’m ready to trade off comfort for aesthetic unity. Besides, I rather enjoy the way the Oysterclasp is a visual (and literal) counterbalance to the Datejust case.

    If I have one complaint about the Oysterclasp on the Datejust (or any other Rolex other than a diver), it’s that it’s not a Glidelock. Rolex has now introduced a shortened version of the Glidelock on Yacht-master Oysterflex straps. It would be nice to have them on all models using an Oysterclasp. The Glidelock’s range and ease of adjustability is simply superior to the all-or-nothing 5mm Easylink, which is awkwardly combined with hidden micro-adjust divots that can only be adjusted with strap tool. That’s a functional concern, however, rather than aesthetic.

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