The Rolex Datejust Ref. 1601 vs. Ref. 16014

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.

Rolex Datejust ref. 1601
Rolex Datejust ref. 1601

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.

Rolex Datejust ref. 16014
Rolex Datejust ref. 16014

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!

Watch Highlight: Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Rolex certainly doesn’t have a shortage of “firsts” to its name. It all started with the world’s first waterproof wristwatch in 1926 with the Rolex Oyster. Then, in 1931, Rolex followed up with the Oyster Perpetual—the world’s first automatic watch mechanism equipped with a Perpetual rotor. A little over a decade later, in 1945, Rolex offered up yet another groundbreaking innovation with the world’s first self-winding wristwatch with a date indicator on the dial. An automatic watch that could indicate both time and date was an incredibly big deal in the 1940s. Rolex named that watch the Oyster Perpetual Datejust, or Datejust for short. While the inaugural model was crafted in 18k yellow gold and presented on a Jubilee bracelet, there have been countless iterations of the watch since it was first released. In fact, a major appeal of the Datejust is the immense variety of the collection.

The Design of the Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Rolex produced the stainless steel Datejust ref. 16220 from 1989 to 1996. Like other Datejust models such as the Datejust 16014, 1601, 16234, and 16233, it sports the traditional 36mm Oyster case. It’s important to note that although 36mm sounds small — particularly considering today’s watch trends — the Datejust wears larger due to the design of the case and lugs. Many are surprised at just how great it fits on a man’s wrist. As with most Datejust models, this reference offers plenty of dial options including different colors and indexes. Furthermore, the Datejust ref. 16220 also comes paired with either the dressier Jubilee five-link bracelet or the sportier three-link Oyster bracelet. The most distinguishing detail of the Datejust ref. 16220, however, is its engine-turned stainless steel bezel, which is not too common when considering Rolex catalog. Stainless steel bezels on Rolex Datejust watches are typically smooth. On the other hand, the iconic Rolex fluted bezel is always in gold, whether white, yellow, or pink. As a result, the Datejust ref. 16220’s engine-turned bezel offers a great balance between the classic elegance of the fluted bezel and the contemporary appeal of stainless steel.

 

 The Mechanics of the Rolex Datejust Ref. 16220

Beating at the core of the Datejust ref. 16220 is the famous in-house Rolex Caliber 3135 automatic movement. It includes the instantaneous date change feature, thus allowing the date to instantly “jump” to the next date at midnight. The Caliber 3135 is also a “quick-set” movement, meaning that the date can be changed independently from the hour hand. Due to its practicality, this feature is a must-have for many Rolex fans. The 3135 mechanical movement operates at 28,800 beats per hour and offers a respectable 48-hour power reserve.Beating at the core of the Datejust ref. 16220 is the famous in-house Rolex Caliber 3135 automatic movement. It includes the instantaneous date change feature, thus allowing the date to instantly “jump” to the next date at midnight. The Caliber 3135 is also a “quick-set” movement, meaning that the date can be changed independently from the hour hand. Due to its practicality, this feature is a must-have for many Rolex fans. The 3135 mechanical movement operates at 28,800 beats per hour and offers a respectable 48-hour power reserve.

The quintessential Rolex timepiece, the Datejust is a luxury watch that offers a rich history with a distinct and timeless design, along with modern practicality. And thanks to its intriguing bezel, the Rolex ref. 16220 is a Datejust that proudly stands out among its siblings.