One of the most recognizable luxury dress watches ever to be created, very few timepieces come close to the legendary status of the Rolex Datejust. Classic, prestigious, and instantly recognizable, the Datejust has been Rolex’s signature dress watch since its inception in 1945. As Rolex’s flagship model, there have been countless variations of the Datejust throughout its seven-decade history. Today we evaluate two classic models: the Datejust ref. 1601 and the Ref. 16014. If you’re in the market for a vintage Datejust, these are some solid contenders. Let’s have a closer look at the similarities and differences of the Datejust ref. 1601 vs. the Datejust ref. 16014.
Style Details: Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014
Since there are several different metal configurations of the ref. 1601 we want to make sure that we’re comparing apples to apples. Therefore, for the purposes of this article, when we refer to the ref. 1601 we are actually referring to the stainless steel and white gold bezel version.
In terms of era, the Datejust ref. 1601 spans from the late 1950s until the 1970s while the Datejust ref. 16014 watches are from the 1970s and 1980s.
Both the Datejust ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 sport the traditionally sized 36mm Oyster case. The stainless steel case is topped with a white gold fluted bezel for a touch more lavishness. The most common bracelet fitted onto both the Datejust ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 is the stainless steel five-link Jubilee bracelet. However, since these are vintage timepieces, there are plenty of models out there that feature replacement bracelets including some leather and NATO straps, in addition to metal ones.
Something interesting to note about the Datejust ref. 1601 is the “pie pan” dial. This refers to the outer edge of the dial dropping slightly—a look similar to a pan used for baking pies. On the other hand, the dial of the Datejust ref. 16014 is flat throughout.
As these are vintage Rolex watches, both the Datejust ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 have acrylic crystal rather than the now ubiquitous sapphire crystal protecting the face of the watches.
Technical Aspects: Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014
Naturally, since these are Datejust watches, both the ref. 1601 and the ref. 16014 feature the iconic date window at 3 o’clock magnified by the famous Cyclops lens. While both of these watches offer time and date functions, they run on different automatic movements.
Powering the Datejust ref. 1601 is the Rolex Caliber 1570/5. While this is considered a very reliable movement and one of Rolex’s “workhorses” it’s important to remember that this is not a quickset Datejust. As a result, to set the date, the center hands of the dial have to continuously go around the dial past midnight until the correct date appears in the window.
On the flipside, the Datejust ref. 16014 houses the Rolex Caliber 3035. When it was introduced in 1977, the Caliber 3035 boasted a higher frequency rating of 28,800 beats per hour rather than the previous 19,800 beats per hour. Higher frequencies mean higher accuracy ratings. Furthermore, the Caliber 3035 was the first movement to offer the quickset feature to the Datejust collection. Therefore, adjusting the date only requires a simple turning of the crown, independently of the center hands.
Both fantastic vintage Rolex watches, choosing the Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014 is a matter of personal taste. The Datejust ref. 1601 offers more vintage flair with its pie pan dial while the ref. 16014 offers more practicality thanks to its quickset feature. Which one would you go for? Leave us a comment below!