At first blush, these are the same replica watch – heck, even my dad has trouble telling them apart, to this very day. They are, in fact, quite different, and their differences are what make them so interesting to compare. Examining these differences is the first step into a larger world of Rolex collecting. It’s all about looking closely at the minuscule, or the seemingly insignificant. More than that, comparing these two watches is a microcosm of how to look at vintage watches in general. Look closer, and then look closer still.
Both watches bear the same initial 1601 reference number (with the 1982 model being a 16013), but a combination of factors both on the dial and under the hood show that a reference number is merely one part of the equation – the 1601, and ensuing references, had a very long production run, so there are bound to be variations over time. At first glance, these two Rolex Datejsut replica watches with champagane dials appear to be the same basic model, just from different eras – one is the manifestation of what a two-tone Datejust was in 1967, and the other is the same, just for 1982. But there are quite a few subtle differences, some due to design tweaks and some to age.
For one thing, the 1967 Datejust has a lighter, almost matte dial, whereas the 1982 is your more conventional – by today’s standards – sunray finish. The champagne color on the ’67 is far lighter than its sunray counterpart, although that could be a product of aging. Even though it has a matte texture, it still reflects light somewhat and picks up a tinge of a gradient in the process. Overall, the matte dial gives off a much greater vintage aesthetic (albeit not really an aesthetic since it is quite literally vintage).
The dial text on the Rolex Datejust fake with steel and gold bracelet has an almost hand-painted quality. I have said this before about both vintage watches and vintage-inspired watches, but the slightly imperfect nature of the text on the dial produces a really beautiful effect. Looking at the ’67 dial, certain specific imperfections which stand out to me are the bolded “A” in “Perpetual,” as well as the bolded “M” in “Chronometer.” I am not sure if these were features original to the dial when produced, or if time, and the aging process (ink or paint bleeding perhaps) had some hand in it. Overall, the text on the ’67 dial is thicker, bolder, and more compact. It has less of a baroque look to it, and more of a toolish charm. The Rolex wordmark and accompanying text on the upper portion of the dial also sit higher up than on the later ’82 model.
The 1967 variant has applied dagger indices, with rectangles at six and nine o’clock. The lume plots on that watch have also aged to an almost mint ice cream color. The hands are the classic stick shape, but the lume has aged and slightly degraded. You can see evidence of chipping. The minute track consists of hash marks which are all uniform in length, and which are slightly bolded at each hour marker.
Looking now at the 1982 model more closely, things start to appear more uniform, more precise, and not far off from the quality of dials produced today. The text, while still in the signature serif-style, is much thinner, a bit cleaner, and the dial has no imperfections to speak of.
The 1982 variant has traditional stick markers throughout the dial, and the lume plots have aged here as well, but to more of a tan or custard color – almost blending into the overall dial aesthetic in the process of doing so. The lume on the hands, while no longer functioning, has not chipped or degraded in any meaningful way. The minute track on this watch sports alternating sizes of the hash marks (full hash/quarter hash), which get bolder at the hour markers as well.
In terms of similarities, both Swiss movement replica Rolex watches sport the same 36mm Oyster case with lug holes, gold fluted bezel, the “T Swiss T” writing at the bottom of the dial, the iconic “J” in Datejust, the applied gold Rolex coronet, cyclops date window, tritium lume, and an acrylic crystal. Now, patina can form on the case and bracelet in addition to the dial. The 1967 Datejust shows a greater degree of that patination than the 1982 does. The gold fluted bezel, as well as the end links, shows a great deal of oxidation where the gold has turned to an almost purplish or pink hue. I recall, at one point years ago, taking the ’67 Datejust in for servicing and asking if Rolex could do anything about the “damage” to the bracelet. I have since come around to see this as vintage charm, rather than a flaw. In some light, you could very well confuse the gold on the ’67 to be almost a rose gold.
While both watches sport the classic two-tone jubilee bracelet, the bracelets differ in terms of overall thickness, with the newer model having a far more substantial feel. Things diverge again when we reach the clasp. The ’67 variant sports the older Oyster clasp, in which the coronet serves as the end portion of the clasp to open it. The later ’82 model has what would become a Rolex staple for years, a standard rectangular clasp with a stamped crown.
Under the hood, the 1967 model utilizes the caliber 1575 movement, while the ’82 beats away with a much more modern (at the time) caliber 3035. While there are a number of differences between the two, the ones most notable from a user perspective are that the 3035 has a quickset date feature as well as stop (or hacking) seconds, while the 1575 does not. Interestingly, both movements, despite the difference in age, feature the midnight instantaneous date change function.
So clearly, between the two watches, there are enough differences to delve into intellectually. So why don’t we hear more about the two-tone best 1:1 Rolex Datejust copy watch? Well, I think that we actually do. I think that the watch has become so ubiquitous, and so well known, that we tend to gloss over it in terms of collectibility and desirability. More than that, trends have pointed more towards stainless steel examples, when it comes to vintage, as they are considered to be more timeless whereas the two-tone, for some, is more dated and tied to a certain 1980s Gordon Gekko, Wall Street banker vibe.
Sure it’s the “Grandpa” watch, but wearing mine is just something special. It reminds me that my grandfather left something to me. Now, if not for him, would I own a two-tone Datejust? Probably not, but that speaks more to the influence that others in the watch world have on my developing tastes than anything else. This was a watch I had to grow into in some ways. In fact, I feel, having owned this watch for so long, that I have greater insight into the idea of collecting. It is better to experience something than be told what to like. Moreover, this watch is as iconic and recognizable as a Submariner, and just as capable. I recall an article by Jason Heaton, where he went diving with the legendary Sylvia Earle, and she was wearing a Datejust. Harrison Ford sports one in the 1990s thriller, Frantic, watch superstar Paul Newman famously wears one in The Color of Money, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower is known for his solid gold Datejust.
I chose this watch to wear on my wedding day. Every time I look at it, it reminds me of that day, and in all of the photos, I can be seen wearing it. We can get caught up in this collecting world, and the astronomical prices which accompany vintage watches these days, but it’s good to know there are still watches out there worth hunting and plenty of frontiers yet to explore. I think the two-tone Datejust could represent that next arena of vintage watches. Things are cyclical, and as we move further away from that 1980s aesthetic, I think we will come to appreciate it even more.