Splurge or Steal: Rolex President vs. Datejust

For many watch lovers, Rolex is king. From staples of the brand, like the standard Datejust, to the most highly coveted models, like the President, Rolex fans don’t discriminate. So, whether you’re looking to splurge on one of the brand’s top-end models or snag a steal with one of the brand’s old standbys, we’ll help you decide which Rolex to add to your collection. Let’s face it, no matter which style you choose, you really can’t go wrong with a Rolex on your wrist.

The Splurge: Rolex President                                                                 

The 18-karat yellow gold Oyster Perpetual Day-Date, commonly known as the President, made its debut in 1956. It was the brand’s first model to feature both the day and date complications in windows on the dial as well as a newly created band: the President bracelet.

The design of the President has remained largely unchanged since it was first introduced. Today’s President models are available in the same 18-karat gold, now in either yellow, white, or rose. They continue to feature the day and date complications in two separate windows on the dial, with the brand’s trademark Cyclops lens over the date. The President is now offered with a number of band options, including a leather strap, Rolex’s iconic Oyster bracelet, and the original President bracelet. What makes the original President bracelet special is its semi-circular, three-piece links that are both comfortable in feel and refined in appearance.

The most significant difference between each variation of the President is not in its form but instead in its function, namely the movement. The most recent version of the President features the brand’s caliber 3255 self-winding mechanical movement.

Since its inception, the President’s bold appearance has caught the attention of some of the most significant businessmen and world leaders of the twentieth century. The first president to popularize the Rolex President among world leaders was arguably Lyndon B. Johnson. President Johnson was an avid watch collector, and during his presidency, the Rolex President became his signature timepiece. After Johnson, numerous presidents followed in his footsteps by sporting the namesake watch, including Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.  Since then, the Rolex President has become the ultimate status symbol. It’s proudly worn by some of the most prominent influencers of our time, from Warren Buffet to Jay Z.

The Steal: The Rolex Datejust

The Datejust first appeared about a decade prior to the President, in 1945. It was created in conjunction with Rolex’s 40th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, the brand wanted to create a watch that was different than any other model they were offering at the time. The result was Rolex’s first self-winding, waterproof wristwatch with a date window on the dial and the brand’s signature Jubilee bracelet. Like the President, the first Datejust was only available in 18-karat gold. However, it has since become available in stainless steel.

Over the years, the Datejust has seen a number of updates. Just before the debut of the President in 1956, Rolex added the Cyclops lens over the date display. A year later, the Datejust was updated with a lighter, thinner movement: the caliber 1065. This modification allowed the original domed case back to be replaced with a flattened case back, which ultimately gave the watch a slimmer profile.

By the 1970’s, the Datejust had begun to carve its own place in pop-culture. It first gained attention on the wrist of Michael Cane in the 1971 film, Get Carter. Since then, the Datejust has been worn on-screen by some of the most popular actors of our time, from Paul Newman in The Color of Money to Christian Bale in American Psycho.

Choosing the Best Model for You

Until the release of the President, the Datejust was Rolex’s most popular model. The Datejust is the modern archetype of the quintessential watch and has set the foundation for some of Rolex’s other iconic models, like the Explorer and the Submariner. Still, if you’re looking to upgrade to a top of the line Rolex, the President is hard to beat. With its rich history and undeniable presence on the wrist, it’s an incredible option if you’re looking to splurge.

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