When Rolex introduced the Datejust 41, the watch fandom lauded the thinner case and smaller overall proportions compared the Datejust II model, which was released in 2009. The new Datejust 41 (released in an all-steel version in 201&), with its 70-hour power reserve, looked more like a larger classic Datejust (36mm case) instead of a bigger and beefier version of the classic the Datejust II resembles.
But for many men, the classic Datejust felt too small given the modern standard for men’s watch sizes. We had the opportunity to try both on at Tourneau near Bryan Park in Manhattan. We pretty much walked away still undecided. If push came to shove, we’d choose the classic. Here’s why:
Smaller is appropriate, given the style
Even though in 2018 larger watches are more “in,” men’s fashion is cyclical. What’s popular in the past inevitably seems to crawl back into style. Classic men’s watches on the dressier side of the spectrum have hovered around 34-37 mm in case said. The Datejust and Submariner are among Rolex’s most iconic (and popular) models so they have both made a lasting impression at their original case sizes. The Datejust is meant to be smaller than a sport watch so that it can be scaled proportionally to a man in traditional office clothing with a dress shirt. Also, it may look small in the watch shop, but once you leave your eyes will get used to seeing the smaller proportions.
Before we continue, let’s get one thing out of the way: If you have an exceptionally big wrist the Datejust 41 will probably be better for you. It’s all about proportions. But for most men, erring on the side of smaller will make sense.
Well, it is a classic
The Rolex Datejust has been around since 1945. Legend has it that Hans Wilsdorf’s wife had a difficult time reading her watch, so the Wilsdorf had the magnifying lens added to the Datejust model. The iconic cyclops was born and has since been one of the most recognizable attributes of the brand. Winston Churchill and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. are among the famous figures in history known to have worn a classic Datejust.
The case for the 41
Just as we’ve convinced ourselves to stay to the tried-and-true classic 36mm Datejust, there are a lot of compelling reasons to spring for the 41. One thing is the case size is actually closer to 39mm in spite of the same of the model. This makes is not that far for the original size, so if you are closer the large end of the spectrum when it comes to wrist size, you feel good knowing the newer model is not that much bigger than the original. The oyster or jubilee bracelets come with the EasyLink extension system, which makes on-the-fly sizing adjustments a simple affair.
The new calibre 3225 movement offers about 30 more hours of power reserve compared the standard Datejust movement, which can be a huge benefit to some owners who might leave their Rolex off on the weekends, for example. The Oyster case is water resistant to 100 meters, which lends the Datejust a sporty attribute, making it at home on the beach. If you are going to own one watch or basically wear the same watch most of the time, the larger case size can help you straddle the lines between dressy and casual more easily. It’s easier to dress down a dressy watch than try to dress up a sporty watch.
But in the end
As much as we marvel a the technical innovations of watches, what matters most is how it looks on our wrists. We’d still go for the classic 36mm Datejust as it’s always going to be a very elegant choice for any gentleman. It’s trend proof and full of restraint—attributes we’d like to be known for too.
Just check on this image from Valetmag.com’s feature on the style of the movie “Borg vs. McEnroe”: