The famous Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is the flagship chronograph of the brand. The watch is especially remarkable. Now, you may wonder, why?
The watch was once one of the worst-selling Rolex models on which collectors showed the slightest interest.
However, the Daytona has evolved over more than half a century, transforming the people’s perception of the timepiece entirely.
Today, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona holds the record for being the most expensive watch sold ever at auction.
Interestingly, both the vintage and the modern market for Daytona watches are booming today.
So, let’s find out how this Rolex’s forerunner model achieved its current prosperous place from such unpromising beginnings.
Rolex introduced the first reference of the Daytona range in 1963 – the reference 6239. However, it was not named a Daytona.
Rolex initially named this specific Cosmograph watch as the “Le Mans”. However, while the brand was trying to conquer the American market, Rolex transformed the model’s name to the “Daytona”.
However, the Rolex Daytona reference 6239 features pump pushers rather than screw-down pushers.
The dial also flaunted three sub-dials to measure the running seconds, a 12-hour register, and a 30-minute register.
While the original model was made exclusively for race car drivers, Rolex fitted a tachymetric scale on the bezel of ref. 6239 for calculating the average speeds of racing cars.
The Rolex Daytona reference 6239 was meant to serve as a robust tool watch. Thus, the manufacturer built the timepiece in stainless steel, followed by gold and platinum versions.
Interestingly, the Daytona reference 6239 was powered by a Valjoux-based manual wound chronograph movement. It offered 48hours of power reserve.
Rolex launched unique dials named “exotic dials” for the Daytona reference 6239.
Interestingly, collectors later named the “exotic dials” as “Paul Newman” dials as the actor wore one of it.
Eventually, the “Paul Newman” dials enjoy the most attention and command the highest prices among other vintage Rolex Daytona models.
With the launch of automatic movement, Rolex Cosmograph Daytona moved towards the path of watchmaking prominence.
The second generation of the Daytona was equipped with a self-winding chronograph “EI Primero” movement from Zenith.
It eventually turned the model into the most sought-after watch of the 80s and 90s.
It’s no secret that the manufacturer produces every watch component in-house. Thus, Rolex marked the current generation of Daytona by making its first in-house movement – the Calibre 4130.
The brand released the reference 116XXX series in 2000, housing the Rolex’s first in-house chronograph movement.
However, Rolex introduced the reference 116500LN in 2016 with a white or black dial.
And, it has been the most desirable watch of recent years.
Today, all-steel Rolex Daytona models are available only with the patented Cerachrom ceramic bezel.
Nonetheless, the Daytona has the broadest range of Professional collection.
It comes in two-tone Rolesor, yellow and white gold, and also platinum.
Moreover, the gold references with ceramic bezels feature the Oysterflex rubber strap since 2017.
Rolex equipped the in-house automatic movement Calibre 4130 into the Daytona watches, including the latest ref. 116500LN.
The movement offers 72hours of power reserve and is ideally the best ever-produced movement.
This column-wheel chronograph comes with a vertical clutch, built of only 201components.
Although it is a 60% decrease from the earlier EI Primero, the new Calibre outshines the old movement.
The self-winding Calibre 4130 featured the ever-first Rolex patented Parachrom Blue hairspring, offering resistance to shocks and magnetic fields.
Unlike the clutch used on earlier models, the Calibre 4130 features a vertical clutch system. This enables to measure more precise starts and stops.
Moreover, the stopwatch can function for a longer time without influencing the watch’s overall timekeeping.
In 2015, Rolex set an all-new standard for its exclusive movements, offering a refined accuracy rating of -2/+2 seconds per day with five years warranty.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona led an amazing life. From being one of the Rolex’s rare slow-selling model to the real example of luxury, Daytona’s journey has been indeed exciting.
The current Daytona versions differ from the first editions mechanically. However, when it comes to looks, the modern Daytona watches appear undoubtedly like the descendants of the original reference 6239.
Today, vintage, as well as new iterations of Daytona watches, are becoming more valuable and the trend is expected only to accelerate.
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