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Superficially at least, some of the references of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual look very similar to Rolex DateJust wristwatches. Both have superimposed indexes and hands and a number of dial colour options. Both have attractive bracelets which feature a robust solid flip-lock folding clasp, although, in fairness, some DateJusts were also manufactured with a brown crocodile leather strap variant. Both are stamped with ‘superlative chronometer officially certified’ as you should expect of a high-quality wristwatch, something that the Rolex brand is synonymous with.

Furthermore, both of these watch models are considered to be time-only chronometers meaning that their primary function is to display the time clearly with no – or very few – complications. This simplicity is part of both the DateJust’s and the Oyster Perpetual’s appeal, of course. It is also something that is often reflected in their asking prices because less complex watches made by Rolex tend to be at the lower end of the pricing scale. So much for the similarities. What sets the Oyster Perpetual apart from the DateJust?

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To begin with, the most obvious difference between an Oyster Perpetual and a DateJust is that the latter displays the date whereas the former does not. You’ll see the date loupe of any DateJust reference positioned at three o’clock under a Cyclops lens so it stands out and is easier to read. The watch was introduced in 1945 when it wowed the public because its date complication would only show the new day when the hour hand had past midnight. In other words, it didn’t move progressively from one date to the next, allowing for a clear reading at all times. In fact, it was the first self-winding wristwatch that showed the date which was also waterproof.

The Oyster Perpetual, on the other hand, is distinguishable from all other Rolex models because it is perfectly symmetrical, an achievement that is possible because there is no date complication. In addition, the Oyster Perpetual has an ultra-simplistic bezel design. In fairness, some DateJusts also have the same bezels but many DateJusts also have fluted design motifs on their bezels. You won’t find an Oyster Perpetual with anything so fancy, however. It is also worth noting that the Oyster Perpetual features a waterproof case that clamps tightly, supposedly in the same way that an oyster closes its shell. The perpetual element in the design comes from the watch’s self-winding movement. This means that it can theoretically run in perpetuity, so long as the wearer is active and moving.

In the past, the Oyster Perpetual was made in just two case sizes. There was a 34mm version for men and a 26mm version for women. The current references made by Rolex have increased the amount of choice, however. You can find 39mm, 36mm and 31mm Oyster Perpetuals on the pre-owned market these days, as well. By contrast, there are just four sizes of DateJust to choose from: 28mm, 31mm, 36mm and 41mm. Both watch models offer significant investment potential. On average, asking prices for DateJusts are a bit higher than Oyster Perpetuals, however.