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Thread: Datejust Question - 1601/1603/16030/16220/16234

  1. #1
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    Datejust Question - 1601/1603/16030/16220/16234

    Hi All

    I am considering getting my first Datejust and am keen to tap into the forum wisdom on them. I would like to get one ideally from the 1980s or early 1990s but am also open to an earlier 4 digit reference. I am interested in a steel 36mm, fluted bezel, jubilee model with grey or silver as the preferred options. I would appreciate any comments on the following

    - are the 16030/16220/16234 a significant step forward in terms of robustness/reliability from the older 1601 and 1603 models? I believe the 5 digit ones all have quickset dates and the 4 digit ones do not. Are there other major differences?
    - I believe the 16030 and 16220 are stainless steel engine turned bezels whereas the 16234 is white gold. I also believe the 16220 has an updated movement on the 16030 and has a sapphire rather than acrylic crystal. Are there any other significant differences I should take into consideration?
    - Are there any other references from that era I should consider given I am after a steel 36mm fluted bezel model?
    - since they often lack box and papers, how much of a problem is counterfeit for older Datejusts? I assume that it is mainly modern Rolexes that are counterfeited but realise I may be naÔve on this.

    I am going to try a few different ones on in London at the usual places to see them in the metal but am keen to build up my understanding first.

    Thanks very much for your help
    Edward

  2. #2
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    I start with an extract from an article I'm writing :

    "Four digit model refs like “1601” were 1575 calibre Datejust versions with no quick-set date change.

    Where there is later a fifth digit, such as “16013,” the fifth numeral reflects the metal used to make the specific watch head (0=s/steel, 3=steel+yellow gold, 4=steel+white gold, 8=18ct yellow gold). This first five digit series introduced the 3035 calibre with quickset date change.

    Then came the 3135 calibre series, denoted by a change to the middle digits (16013 became 16233, 16014 became 16234 and 16030 became 16220.

    An additional “1” prefix came in circa 2004 (such as “116233”) which denoted the fatter new cases with upgraded bracelets.

    Most recently, the second digit changed to a “2” (“126233”) to denote the latest, increased case sizes.
    "

    Turning more to your post, I would recommend against the older, four-digit models here. From what you write, you are looking for a 16014 / 16234 with white metal fluted bezel, on Jubilee 62510 bracelet.

    3035 and 3135 calibres are both great, so for me the greatest distinction between a 16014 and a 16234 would be the softer, acrylic glass of the former versus the harder, synthetic sapphire glass of the latter. Both will have fans, but expect to pay more for the sapphire generation.

    Yes, 16030 / 16220 bezels are engine-turned and steel while 16014 / 16234 are fluted and "white metal." Retailers aren't supposed to call it what it is here, thanks to the Hallmarking Act 1973 and its view of mixed metals, but these white metal bezels are in fact 18ct white gold. Do NOT make the mistake (repeated even by main agents) of thinking that any other part of a 16014 / 16234 is "white metal." The ignorant commonly think that the bracelets fitted to these also comprise mixed metals but they do not; they retain the same, all-stainless 62510 (the "0" being significant!) as the 16200 / 16220.

    Digressing briefly on the bracelets, did you know that the common references 62510 (steel Jubilee) and 62523 (steel and yellow metal Jubilee) were used for all three sizes of watch until the mid-2000s? They were differentiated by the suffixes H (denoting Hommes, the French for "men"), D (denoting Dames, the French for "ladies") and M (denoting Mmmmmm, the John Inman for somewhere-in-between if expressed with suitable high-pitched extravagance). Thus 62510H must be a Jubilee in stainless steel (0) to fit a gentleman's (H) 16xxx model.

    Note that the later years of the 16234 saw the lugs become solid such that their predecessors' visible pin-holes, through which one could push the spring-bars, disappeared.

    Beware: a watch may show "1601/3" on paperwork, but what matters is that between the lugs it shows 1601 or 16013.

    Haywood
    Last edited by Haywood_Milton; 31st January 2018 at 18:35.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haywood_Milton View Post
    I start with an extract from an article I'm writing :

    "Four digit model refs like ď1601Ē were 1575 calibre Datejust versions with no quick-set date change.

    Where there is later a fifth digit, such as ď16013,Ē the fifth numeral reflects the metal used to make the specific watch head (0=s/steel, 3=steel+yellow gold, 4=steel+white gold, 8=18ct yellow gold). This first five digit series introduced the 3035 calibre with quickset date change.

    Then came the 3135 calibre series, denoted by a change to the middle digits (16013 became 16233, 16014 became 16234 and 16030 became 16220.

    An additional ď1Ē prefix came in circa 2004 (such as ď116233Ē) which denoted the fatter new cases with upgraded bracelets.

    Most recently, the second digit changed to a ď2Ē (ď126233Ē) to denote the latest, increased case sizes.
    "

    Beware: a watch may show "1601/3" on paperwork, but what matters is that between the lugs it shows 1601 or 16013.

    Turning more to your post, I would recommend against the older, four-digit models here. From what you write, you are looking for a 16014 / 16234 with white metal fluted bezel, on Jubilee 62510 bracelet.

    3035 and 3135 calibres are both great, so for me the greatest distinction between a 16014 and a 16234 would be the softer, acrylic glass of the former versus the harder, synthetic sapphire glass of the latter. Both will have fans, but expect to pay more for the sapphire generation.

    Yes, 16030 / 16220 bezels are engine-turned and steel while 16014 / 16234 are fluted and "white metal." Retailers aren't supposed to call it what it is here, thanks to the Hallmarking Act 1973 and its view of mixed metals, but these white metal bezels are in fact 18ct white gold. Do NOT make the mistake (repeated even by main agents) of thinking that any other part of a 16014 / 16234 is "white metal." The ignorant commonly think that the bracelet also comprises mixed metals but it does not; they retain the same, all-stainless 62510 (the "0" being significant!) as the 16200 / 16220.

    Note that the later years of the 16234 saw the lugs become solid such that their predecessors' visible pin-holes, through which one could push the spring-bars, disappeared.

    Haywood

    Haywood, thank you very much. That is extremely informative and helpful, and exactly why I raised the question on the forum.

  4. #4
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    If it matters to you, another factor is the "open 6 & 9" date wheel, which will depend on the age of the watch. Not sure when this was discontinued, maybe someone better informed can advise. Here's my 16014, as it happens sourced from one of Haywood's fine establishments!


  5. #5
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    Very informative. Where will your article appear Haywood? I would like to read the whole thing when it is complete.

  6. #6
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    My strong advice is to buy on condition rather than setting your mind on a specific model. Ten years ago I was very lucky to drop on a 16013 bimetal Datejust that the owner bought in 1987 and wore less than 20 times! Sounds unlikely, but when I inspected the watch it was clearly in virtually new condition, an absolute time-warp watch with original box and papers. I also have a 16234 circa 2002/3 with no box or papers but it’s in excellent condition. I’ve refinished the watch to get it like new, though it was in nice condition before I did this. Looking closely, there’s a small amount of stretch/ wear in the bracelet which shows the watch has had a few years of use, but that’s to be expected on a watch that’s 14 years old.

    Look for thin lugs from too much refinishing, and stretched bracelets from lots of wear.......both are best avoided. Also look for recent service history from an accredited Rolex repairer, this is a big plus.

    I always buy the watch, not the box and papers, they’re nice to have but it’s the watch itself that takes priority for me.

    Paul
    Last edited by walkerwek1958; 1st February 2018 at 00:02.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ripley View Post
    Very informative. Where will your article appear Haywood? I would like to read the whole thing when it is complete.
    That's kind of you. I have a few articles published my own website but (another of my failings) about a dozen half-written like this one. Sometimes it takes a thread like this to make me add some more detail and publish one, even if I then continue adding to it.

    Have you already seen the two articles I wrote on bracelet numbering and case numbering systems? Those aren't on my website at the moment but I can link them here with a little effort.

    H

  8. #8
    Very informative post Haywood and a good reference for those considering a DJ, thanks for posting. I too would be interested to read any similar articles you have published.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haywood_Milton View Post

    Have you already seen the two articles I wrote on bracelet numbering and case numbering systems? Those aren't on my website at the moment but I can link them here with a little effort.

    H
    Thanks for replying Haywood. I havenít seen those and a link would be much appreciated.

  10. #10
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    That's very imformative Haywood. I didn't know about the lettering system on the bracelets.

  11. #11
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    Whilst I can't match the knowledge of Haywood and Paul, I can suggest trying on as many as you can.

    Things like the difference between the fluted and engine turned bezel are much easier to see in person.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliverD View Post

    Things like the difference between the fluted and engine turned bezel are much easier to see in person.
    +1.....canít stress this point strongly enough. You have to handle these watches to literally get a feel for them.

    Paul

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by walkerwek1958 View Post
    My strong advice is to buy on condition rather than setting your mind on a specific model. Ten years ago I was very lucky to drop on a 16013 bimetal Datejust that the owner bought in 1987 and wore less than 20 times! Sounds unlikely, but when I inspected the watch it was clearly in virtually new condition, an absolute time-warp watch with original box and papers. I also have a 16234 circa 2002/3 with no box or papers but itís in excellent condition. Iíve refinished the watch to get it like new, though it was in nice condition before I did this. Looking closely, thereís a small amount of stretch/ wear in the bracelet which shows the watch has had a few years of use, but thatís to be expected on a watch thatís 14 years old.

    Look for thin lugs from too much refinishing, and stretched bracelets from lots of wear.......both are best avoided. Also look for recent service history from an accredited Rolex repairer, this is a big plus.

    I always buy the watch, not the box and papers, theyíre nice to have but itís the watch itself that takes priority for me.

    Paul
    Paul, thank you for your helpful advice

    Sent from my [device_name] using TZ-UK mobile app

  14. #14
    I have a 1978 16013 which I bought from its first owner in the 1980s.

    Lovely timepiece, worn everyday, as my only watch, for nearly 20 years - office, home, dress, beach, swimming, skiing, flying, cleaning the car, you name it. Accurate faithful friend.

    Had it serviced by Rolex and came back looking like new. Actually mislaid it for several years, but recently reacquainted and been wearing it regularly. Now vintage, but oozes quality and super accuracy.

  15. #15
    I know Iím a bit late to this party but I am now in the market for a 16234 and just want to say thank you to those who have shared such useful info.
    I bought a 1680 Sub four years ago so know what a minefield it can be. This info is fantastic.

    Cheers
    David

  16. #16
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    Dont buy a 1601 unless recently serviced by Rolex or an RSC. They can contain an older calibre like 1565, can contain a 17 jewel version of the movement if imported from america... The TT models can be 14k/steel and not 18k. The cases can be badly corroded and not waterproof at all...

    A 5 digit is a much safer bet. Although if 30+ years old, have the case opened up to check for corrosion.

    The newest 126233 datejust has the much improved 3235 calibre, BUT goes back to the slimmer case profile of the 16233. A perfect datejust, to my mind.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haywood_Milton View Post
    Turning more to your post, I would recommend against the older, four-digit models here.
    As you are obviously someone who knows their onions when it comes to Rolexes I'm interested to know why you recommend against the four-digit models? Is it the lack of quickset or something more?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caruso View Post
    As you are obviously someone who knows their onions when it comes to Rolexes I'm interested to know why you recommend against the four-digit models? Is it the lack of quickset or something more?
    Aside from the above the movement is a 1960's design and works well, but is nowhere near as good as the newer 30/31/32 movements, when it comes to precision and durability etc. It's a workhorse but a very old engine design.

  19. #19
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    1601

    I have a steel/gold 1977 1601 found last year unused in a London safe deposit box, had it serviced by Rolex works a treat lovely watch.

  20. #20
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    The 5 digit 3135 calibre based DJs were launched in late 1988 with the 16200 base model starting with an R serial case number. They had the sleeker more modern look of the sapphire crystal but retained holes in lugs and open 6s and 9s until the early nineties and then were phased out in early 2006 when the 116200 etc. models were launched with the redesigned case with polished shoulders and centre link albeit retaining the 3135 calibre movement at that time. The 5 digit models post 88 also gave owners more clarity on the bezel design hence the 4th digit indicated the whether the bezel was polished, fluted, bark effect or rotating I.e. 0 polished 2 engine turned 3 fluted 4 bark effect or 6 turnograph. The 90s DJs had the peculiarity of market restrictions for certain models and the 16234 model was not available in the French market as it had 2 same colour dissimilar metals and the steel range topped out at the 16220 model. As Haywood rightly says there are myths around 16234 jubilee bracelets being in steel/white gold which are untrue as are the myths that the 16220 engined turned bezel is made out of white gold which is also untrue. Beware of 16220s with replacement WG bezels and 16234s with engine turned bezels. The fail safe check is to remove the bracelet and check the model number to the bezel and then check the serial number year on the case (Exxxxxx = 1990 for example) with the bracelet month and year date on the bracelet clasp.(O9 = O for 1990 and 9 for September for example) The 78360 Oyster and 62510 Jubilee bracelets were both available and sometimes interchanged at point of sale. As the Jubilee bracelet is the most stretchable of Rolex bracelets especially on the older 1601 and 16000 models, the advice below on buying on condition is paramount and the older folded bracelets found on the pre 1977 models were less robust and by holding the case with thumb and first finger (crown) horizontally you can test the stretch in the bracelet.
    I had in mind that the DJs 1601 etc. from 1959 were plexi non quick set and 1565/1575 calibres. 16000 etc. From
    1977 were plexi quick set and 3035 calibres and 16200 etc. From 1988 were sapphire quick set and 3135 calibres but am happy to be corrected.
    I would suggest you choose the model which best suits you then find the one in the best condition preferably unpolished as this can change the 'sharpness' of the case angles and find one that is correctly finished bith the polished and brushed links in the bracelet. I hope these complementary thoughts will be of help.
    Paul S.

  21. #21
    ^^ interesting post and great knowledge. Thanks

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elesmy View Post
    The 5 digit 3135 calibre based DJs were launched in late 1988 with the 16200 base model starting with an R serial case number. They had the sleeker more modern look of the sapphire crystal but retained holes in lugs and open 6s and 9s until the early nineties and then were phased out in early 2006 when the 116200 etc. models were launched with the redesigned case with polished shoulders and centre link albeit retaining the 3135 calibre movement at that time.

    The 5 digit models post 88 also gave owners more clarity on the bezel design hence the 4th digit indicated the whether the bezel was polished, fluted, bark effect or rotating I.e. 0 polished 2 engine turned 3 fluted 4 bark effect or 6 turnograph.

    The 90s DJs had the peculiarity of market restrictions for certain models and the 16234 model was not available in the French market as it had 2 same colour dissimilar metals and the steel range topped out at the 16220 model.

    As Haywood rightly says there are myths around 16234 jubilee bracelets being in steel/white gold which are untrue as are the myths that the 16220 engined turned bezel is made out of white gold which is also untrue.

    Beware of 16220s with replacement WG bezels and 16234s with engine turned bezels. The fail safe check is to remove the bracelet and check the model number to the bezel and then check the serial number year on the case (Exxxxxx = 1990 for example) with the bracelet month and year date on the bracelet clasp.(O9 = O for 1990 and 9 for September for example)

    The 78360 Oyster and 62510 Jubilee bracelets were both available and sometimes interchanged at point of sale. As the Jubilee bracelet is the most stretchable of Rolex bracelets especially on the older 1601 and 16000 models, the advice below on buying on condition is paramount and the older folded bracelets found on the pre 1977 models were less robust and by holding the case with thumb and first finger (crown) horizontally you can test the stretch in the bracelet.

    I had in mind that the DJs 1601 etc. from 1959 were plexi non quick set and 1565/1575 calibres. 16000 etc. From 1977 were plexi quick set and 3035 calibres and 16200 etc. From 1988 were sapphire quick set and 3135 calibres but am happy to be corrected.

    I would suggest you choose the model which best suits you then find the one in the best condition preferably unpolished as this can change the 'sharpness' of the case angles and find one that is correctly finished bith the polished and brushed links in the bracelet. I hope these complementary thoughts will be of help.

    Paul S.
    As the owner (from new) of a 16220 with an engine turned bezel, I found this very interesting and informative. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

  23. #23
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    Some great knowledge sharing in this post, thanks! I've got a 1603 and owned a 1601. Both are beautiful watches, although i do crave the quickset date at times!
    Last edited by csinclair85; 12th June 2019 at 09:33.

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    [ATTACH]16385[/ATTACH


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    My 1601 found unused in a safe deposit box in London, after a service by Rolex it keeps fantastic time and I get more nice comments about it than my Rolex sub!!!! Itís a 1977 model Mint.


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