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The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116200 family was recently discontinued after 15 years of production. It was the first six-digit Datejust series from Rolex and the model’s most diverse lineup to date. From simpler steel editions to extravagant gem-set options and plenty in between, there’s likely a Datejust ref. 116xxx out there that’s just right for you. Join us as we look back at the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116xxx series of watches.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116200
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116200

Brief History of the First Six-Digit Rolex Datejust

At Baselworld 2004, Rolex announced a new generation of the classic Datejust. The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust watch was first introduced in 1945 and has since remained the brand’s flagship model. As its full official name suggests, the watch is water-resistant (Oyster), automatic (Perpetual), and includes a date window (Datejust).

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116233
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116233

Throughout the decades, Rolex has dutifully upgraded and expanded the collection to bring us a new Datejust reference family every decade or so. The 2004 release of the new-gen Datejust was the first to include a six-digit reference number: 116xxx (where the xxx is dependent on bracelet material, case metal, and bezel style–more on that later).

As is typical with Rolex, it was a two-tone yellow gold and stainless steel Datejust that launched the then-new collection. This was then followed by a slew of other options including different case metals, bezel styles, and bracelets.

Datejust 116xxx Design Characteristics

Although the Datejust 116xxx series continued to sport the traditional 36mm Oyster case size, in reality, the watch wears more prominent than its predecessors. This is thanks in part to a subtly redesigned case with thicker lugs that are polished rather than brushed. The wider lugs lend a squarer shape to the watch compared to older editions.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116xxx General Specs

  • Case Size: 36mm
  • Bracelet: Oyster, Jubilee, or Leather
  • Date window at 3 o’clock with instantaneous date change
  • Caliber: 3135
  • Crystal: Sapphire with Cyclops
  • Lume: SuperLuminova
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116231
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116231

Rolex also tinkered with dial details on some models to make the hour markers more legible. For instance, older versions of the Datejust with baton hour makers will have slimmer sticks with just the tips coated with lume. On the other hand, a newer Datejust 116xxx with baton hour makers will have much thicker ones entirely filled with luminous material for brighter legibility in the dark.

Furthermore, the bracelet includes solid end links and solid center links, which makes the newer Rolex band heftier and more durable than previous bracelets with hollow end and center links. The clasp was significantly improved too, complete with a sturdier closing mechanism and a 5mm extension system.

Datejust 116200 Bracelet & Clasp
Datejust 116200 Bracelet & Clasp

Finally, in the 2000s, Rolex amped up its counterfeit prevention methods including engraving the rehauts (the space between the dial and the crystal) of its watches with ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX all the way around.

New to the Datejust 116xxx Series

  • Wider case lugs, polished
  • Bracelet solid end links
  • Bracelet solid center links
  • Fully lumed and wider hour markers (while applicable)
  • Folding Oysterclasp with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link
  • ROLEX ROLEX ROLEX engraved rehaut

The Variety of the Datejust 116xxx Series

As mentioned, the Datejust 116xxx generation is the most varied ever since Rolex debut the watch in 1945. The variety is not just in terms of case material (steel, gold, or two-tone) but also To understand the different options, lets first look at the reference number.

The Datejust 116234 pairs steel with a white gold fluted bezel

Datejust Materials

The last digit of the Datejust reference number will tell you what the material is made of.

  • 0 = Stainless Steel (a 904L steel known as Oystersteel)
  • 1 = Everose Rolesor (two-tone steel and rose gold)
  • 3 = Yellow Rolesor (two-tone steel and yellow gold)
  • 4 = White Rolesor (steel case and bracelet with white gold bezel)
  • 5 = 18k Everose Gold (Rolex’s proprietary rose gold alloy)
  • 8 = 18k Yellow Gold
  • 9 = 18k White Gold

For the 116xxx generation of Datejusts, Rolex had made versions in each of the materials listed above.

Datejust Bezels

While the fluted bezel is most commonly associated with the Datejust since that was the watch’s original style, Rolex has greatly expanded the choices over the decades. The second to last digit in the 116xxx Datejust reference number will tell you the bezel style

  • 0 = Smooth bezel
  • 3 = Fluted bezel (exclusively made in 18k gold)
  • 4 = Diamond-set bezel
  • 6 = Turn-O-Graph bezel (rotating timing bezel characteristic with the Rolex Thunderbird)
Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph 116264
Rolex Datejust Turn-O-Graph 116264

The first six-digit Datejust series offered bezel styles in all the above-listed styles. This was the last family to include the Datejust Thunderbird with a rotating fluted bezel for timing, which was available in three shades of gold.

Datejust Bracelets

Rolex has almost always fitted the Datejust 36 watch with metals bracelets–either the dressier five-link Jubilee bracelet or the sportier three-link Oyster bracelet. However, the Datejust 116xxx series also included the option of a leather band. The third to last digit in the reference number will tell you whether the Datejust is fitted with a leather strap or a metal bracelet. It will not, however, differentiate between a Jubilee or Oyster bracelet.

  • 1 = Leather strap with gold clasp
  • 2 = Metal bracelet, either Jubilee or Oyster
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116135 with a leather strap

Rolex only offered the leather strap option on full gold Datejust watches and fitted the bands with solid gold clasps.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust References

Below is a quick table comparing some of the main six-digit Datejust references.

ReferenceCaseBezelBracelet/Strap
116200SteelSmooth
Steel
Bracelet
Steel
116234SteelFluted
White Gold
Bracelet
Steel
116233Yellow Gold/SteelFluted
Yellow Gold
Bracelet
Yellow Gold/Steel
116231Everose Gold/SteelFluted
Everose Gold
Bracelet
Everose Gold/Steel
116203Yellow Gold/SteelSmooth
Yellow Gold
Bracelet
Yellow Gold/Steel
116201Everose Gold/SteelSmooth
Everose Gold
Bracelet
Everose Gold/Steel
116243Yellow Gold/SteelDiamond Set
Yellow Gold
Bracelet
Yellow Gold/Steel
116244SteelDiamond Set
White Gold
Bracelet
Steel
116241Everose Gold/SteelDiamond Set
Everose Gold
Bracelet
Everose Gold/Steel
116264SteelTurn-O-Graph
White Gold
Bracelet
Steel
116263Yellow Gold/SteelTurn-O-Graph
Yellow Gold
Bracelet
Yellow Gold/Steel
116261Everose Gold/SteelTurn-O-Graph
Everose Gold
Bracelet
Everose Gold/Steel
116139White GoldFluted
White Gold
Leather
White Gold Clasp
116138Yellow GoldFluted
Yellow Gold
Leather
Yellow Gold Clasp
116135Everose GoldFluted
Everose Gold
Leather
Everose Gold Clasp
116238Yellow GoldFluted
Yellow Gold
Bracelet
Yellow Gold

The End of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 116200 Series

In 2018, Rolex announced the new generation Datejust 36 collection in the form of the Everose Rolesor ref. 126231, the Yellow Rolesor ref. 126233, and the Yellow Rolesor with diamond bezel ref. 126283 RBR. The following year, at Baselworld 2019, other options joined such as the White Rolesor ref. 126234 and the White Rolesor with diamond bezel ref. 126284 RBR. Rolex has also quietly added a full stainless steel model, the ref. 126200.

Two-tone Datejust 116243 with diamond bezel

The biggest change to the newest Datejust 36 series is the inclusion of the new-gen Caliber 3235 with improved performance, in addition to a slight redesign of the case with slimmer lugs. However, the lineup is nowhere near as varied as the previous collection yet. For instance, there are no leather bracelet, Turn-O-Graph bezel, or full gold options.

The good news is that Datejust 116200 and its counterparts are still readily available in the secondary luxury watch market. Plus, an added bonus is that (generally speaking) pre-owned Datejust watches are significantly less expensive than brand new ones. So if you’re looking for a modern-era Rolex watch to match your taste, look to the immensely varied Datejust 116xxx series and you’ll likely find the perfect one for your collection.

Written by

Celine Simon

Celine is a freelance luxury watch writer who has enjoyed working in the horology industry for over ten years. Like many of the high-end timepieces she writes about, she comes from Switzerland—the heart of fine watchmaking. From Singapore to Montreal to Geneva to Dubai, Celine has lived all over the world but now calls Southern California home.