A slightly smaller version of the iconic Rolex Datejust with a case diameter of 34mm, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date is one of the most classic Rolex models in the brand's catalog. With hundreds of different variations, the pre-owned Rolex Date can be some of the more affordable used Rolex watches on the market. Very similar to a Rolex Datejust in its overall aesthetics, the Date model was one of the first watches in history to display a date on the dial, and remains a popular choice among those who enjoy the styling of the classic Datejust, but want something slightly more compact on the wrist.
Along with the 34mm Date model for men, Rolex also made smaller editions including the midsize Oyster Perpetual Date 31 and the ladies’ Oyster Perpetual Date 26. However, Rolex has since discontinued making these smaller Oyster Perpetual Date versions to focus on the similar Datejust 31 and Lady-Datejust 28 instead.
The manufacturing of every Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date watch follows a long Rolex tradition, steeped in advanced technological processes and high-tech material research. The first Oyster watch was developed in the 1920's and delivered to the watchmaking industry the first ever waterproof wristwatch.
When Rolex added a 'Perpetual' rotor to the design in 1931, it shaped the way in which the manufacturer created most of their timepieces that followed. The flexibly-mounted rotor which consists of a metal weight, winds the watch up as it moves with the motion of the wearer’s arm. Rolex then went on to add more innovative features to this archetypal design, like the date feature in a window at 3 o'clock - a concept introduced for the very first time in 1945 with the debut of the Rolex Oyster Datejust watch.
The popularity of the Datejust carried on into the 1950s, leading Rolex to create other sizes of its classic date-displaying wristwatch. To accompany the standard 36mm model, Rolex released the Date with a case diameter of 34mm during the mid 1950s. Early Rolex watches that came with the “Oyster Perpetual Date” text on the dial included references 6530, 6534, 6535, and 6537. (These models followed the transitional reference ref. 6518 that had come out a few years prior, which has a variety of names on the dial including “Oysterdate Perpetual” or “Oyster Perpetual.”)
These vintage Oyster Perpetual watches sported 34mm cases, available in steel, gold, and two-tone configurations. Furthermore, bezel styles ranged from simple domed to decorative engine-turned to ornate fluted. Dial designs also varied, frequently featuring Alpha hands and faceted triangular hour markers. Furthermore, many examples feature the “Roulette” date wheel, characterized by a mix of red and black numerals. Since the Oyster Perpetual Date watches ran on the same Caliber 1035 movement as the Datejust watches of the era, the date window was also instantaneous—meaning it jumps to the next date at midnight rather than a slow roll. Furthermore, the Date also includes the same Cyclops date magnification lens that protrudes from the crystal.
In the 1960s, Rolex rolled out a crop of midsize 31mm and ladies’ sized 26mm time and date watches in a variety of metals, bezels, and dials. Confusingly, some of these references can either include “Datejust” or “Date” on the dial with no obvious reasoning as to why. Rolex no longer makes Date watches in 31mm or 26mm sizes, only retaining the 34mm size.
Produced in a variety of different materials and configurations throughout its history, the Rolex Date with a 34mm case has remained a constant presence within Rolex’s lineup since the mid-1950s, and has been the go-to option for those who wanted a slightly smaller version of Rolex’s most iconic design.
Currently in 2023, pre owned prices for used Rolex Date watches can depend on the use of precious metals and diamonds. With that in mind, a significant savings can often be found for used Rolex Date watches on the pre-owned market, especially as models from previous generation that are no longer in production.
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Although Rolex Date models today are manufactured only in 34mm cases, their materials, finishes and dials can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways. The case of a Rolex Date watch is designed with values of simplicity and solidity in mind. With a waterproof capability of 100 meters guaranteed and a middle case crafted exclusively from corrosion-resistant Oystersteel (a material from the 904L steel family, commonly used in the aerospace and chemical industry for its highly corrosion-resistant qualities) - these wristwatches answer the needs of those looking for a robust and sporty wristwatch for everyday wear.
The fluted caseback of a Rolex Date watch is hermetically sealed, creating a watertight structure. A patented Twinlock crown helps protects the movement from dust, moisture, pressure, and impact.
Some Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date watches are fitted with fluted bezels, others are smooth. There are currently two Rolex Date models in production. One is the full stainless steel Date ref. 115200 with a smooth domed bezel (Rolex did also make the steel Date ref. 115210 with an engine-turned bezel but dropped it from the catalog after only a few years of production). The other is the Date ref. 115234 topped with an 18k white gold fluted bezel. 18k white gold fluted bezels combined with an Oystersteel case, known as the White Rolesor versions, can be accompanied by dials with diamond indexes, raising their value considerably - others feature classic baton indexes for a more understated look. A sapphire crystal is sealed onto the front of the case, and like its larger sibling, the crystal on the Rolex Date is fitted with the brand’s signature Cyclops magnification lens.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches with date complications are equipped with different movements than their non-date counterparts. The Rolex Caliber 3135 is a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured in-house by Rolex, and it is the engine used to power the current generation of Rolex Date watches.
The certified Swiss chronometer has passed the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) tests and is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring for enhanced resistance to shock and temperature variations. Its Perpetual rotor automatically winds the engine through natural arm movements, providing a 48-hour power reserve and performing at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour.
One of the key dial features of the Rolex Date watch is its magnified date lens, created by a convex curve of sapphire crystal glass above the date window at 3 o'clock. This Cyclops lens enhances the wearer’s view of the numerals within the date window by 2.5 times, becoming a distinguishable feature of this line of Rolex watches since the 1940's.
The Rolex Date dials are available in pink, blue, silver, and classic black, and the date apertures are dressed against a striking white background to enhance legibility. The use of white gold and diamonds for the hour markers on Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date watches increase their value significantly. You can get a dial with either chunky baton indexes or with a diamond and Arabic numerals. In the non-diamond variations, the batons are crafted from white gold to prevent them from tarnishing. If you opt for the diamond & Arabic mixed dial, you’ll see that the diamonds represent the odd numbers around the hour track and the Arabic numerals present the even numbers.
Modern Rolex Oyster Date watches are exclusively fitted on the iconic Oyster bracelet; however, older models can sometimes be found on Jubilee bracelets, particularly the models crafted from solid gold or two-tone. The instantly recognizable flat three-piece link design of the Oyster bracelet is tailored to sculpt effortlessly to the contours of the wearer’s wrist for optimum comfort. The bracelet was first introduced in the 1930’s and has become noteworthy for its mix of brushed and polished surfaces, as well as its refined Oysterclasp for a secure fit on the wrist.
The bracelets of current-production Date watches also come fitted with the folding Oysterclasp furnished with the practical Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link to allow wearer to micro-adjust the length of the bracelet without the need for any tools.
In the past, the Rolex Date was produced in a variety of different materials, including solid gold, two-tone steel and gold, and plain stainless steel versions. Rolex later offered the Date model in either full stainless steel, or White Rolesor - a stainless steel watch and bracelet, fitted with an 18k white gold fluted bezel.
Due to the intrinsic costs of the different metals used for the construction of Rolex Date watches, stainless steel Rolex Date watches are less expensive than those equipped with an 18ct white gold bezel, and prices increase from there with the addition of a diamond dial.
Vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date watches are incredibly good value for money, and represent some of the most affordable used Rolex watches on the pre-owned market. Older models crafted entirely from 14k gold represent some of the cheapest solid gold Rolex watches available, and are becoming increasingly desirable among collectors as they are no longer in production. Additionally, since Rolex now only offers the Date in either stainless steel or White Rolesor, the only way of buying a solid gold or two-tone Rolex Date watch is on the secondary market.
Rolex developed the Oyster Perpetual Date as a smaller edition of the immensely successful Datejust. The Datejust is 36mm in diameter, while the Date is 34mm in diameter. Part of the Rolex Date's popularity at retail and on the pre-owned Rolex market is its modest and versatile size and weight. It's suitable for both men and women and makes a sophisticated statement without overtaking the wrist.
The Date is always trending because it also includes a Rolex movement with self-winding technology and a waterproof Oyster case. You can wear the Rolex Date anywhere you roam without worry. Its design is also timeless and possesses all the necessary elements for a truly exceptional wristwatch.
Popular Rolex Date models include the stunning vintage ref. 1503 in yellow gold and ref. 1501 in stainless steel. The reference 15200 in stainless steel is also trending on the market, featuring Rolex's beloved Caliber 3135 Perpetual movement and a smooth bezel. Currently in production are 6-digit references 115200 in polished and brushed Oystersteel and 115234 in White Rolesor, with a fluted bezel crafted from solid 18k white gold.
The Rolex Date measures 34mm in diameter, while the size of the traditional Datejust is 36mm. Although functionality is identical for Rolex Date and Datejust models of the same generation, the Datejust is available with significantly more options in regards to size, bezel, dial, bracelet, and materials, and is priced higher than the Rolex Date. The current generation of Datejust watches run on the newer Caliber 3235 with an improved power reserve rating of 70 hours. Conversely, the Date watches are equipped with Caliber 3135, which supplies the watch with 48 hours of power reserve.
Among the all the Rolex models that are currently in production, the cheapest Rolex is the Oyster Perpetual; however, the Rolex Date is the second least expensive Rolex watch collection available, with reasonable starting prices when purchased pre-owned. With that in mind, the Rolex Date is the cheapest Rolex watch with a date display among the models in the brand's current catalog. The standard 36mm Rolex Datejust in stainless steel is priced slightly higher than the slightly smaller, 34mm Rolex Date, but prices for both date-displaying Rolex watch models start out at more than the cost of even the most expensive no-date Oyster Perpetual model from the brand's contemporary selection.
The Rolex Day-Date is the flagship watch in the Rolex catalog. While the Rolex Date and Datejust display the date of the month through a window at the 3 o'clock location, the Rolex Day-Date also displays the day of the week (spelled out in full) through a window at the 12 o'clock location. Additionally, the Rolex Day-Date is only ever crafted from either solid 18k gold or 950 platinum.
Aside from the Datejust, the Perpetual Date often gets compared to the Oysterdate Precision. While both the Date and the Oysterdate share similar 34mm case sizes and a date window at 3 o'clock with a Cyclops lens, the biggest difference between the two is the type of movement they run on. The Date is an automatic Rolex watch while the Oysterdate is a manual-winding Rolex watch. Moreover, Date watches are COSC-certified while Oysterdate watches are not - which is why they typically include "Precision" on the dial rather than the ubiquitous "Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified" text found on most Rolex watches. Rolex no longer makes manual-winding Oysterdate watches.
With the exception of certain vintage models that do not feature 'Quickset' date functions, the date display on a Rolex can be set independently from the time-telling hands. For older models without this quickset function, the only way to change the date will be to advance the hands in full rotations past midnight. However, for models with Quickset date functions, to change the date you must unscrew the winding crown so that is is free from the threads of the case. Then, pull out the crown to the first position, but not all the way out (the seconds hand will stay running in this first position). Next, rotate the crown to advance the calendar wheel the desired number of values. Finally, screw the winding crown back down to the case to ensure that the watch maintains its water resistance.