Saturday, June 4, 2016
The evolution of the Rolex Daytona
Many of us are more than ready to get the new Rolex Daytona 116500LN. The Daytona is an interesting watch that has been Rolex’s ace for years. It is almost a cult success. So, how has the Daytona reached its current status?
In 1963 Rolex debuted the first Cosmograph model ref 6239. The features of it included a tachometer scale engraved on the metal bezel and the dials were either in black with silver counters or in silver with black counters.
The name "Daytona" did not appear on the dial until 1965. A new dial version called "exotic" was introduced in 1965. It featured an outer track which matches the sub-dials running around the edge of the dial. The seconds sub-dial is at 9 o'clock and it is marked at 15, 30, 45 and 60.
The ref 6240, which was produced till 1969 only, introduced screw-down push pieces and it became the first ref of the Daytona which was fully waterproof. Interestingly, the word “Daytona” is not always printed on the dial of the 6240. I do think that the “exotic” dial looks way better than usual dials for the 6240.
References 6262 and 6264 were produced between 1970 and 1972. These references adopted push-down buttons with metal bezel or black plastic bezel.. Dials were either white with black sub-dials or vice versa.
From 1971 to 1987, Rolex produced the Daytona 6263 and 6265. These references adopted black plastic bezels and metal bezels and they were waterproof to 100 meters.
The Daytona 6263 is also now known as the “Paul Newman” Daytona because movie star Paul Newman wore the ref 6263 and a ref 6241 on a bund strap. Any Rolex Daytona with exotic dial is known as "The Paul Newman Daytona". Particularly, a Paul Newman dial must be in ref 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264 or 6265.
The most sought-after models of the Daytona today include these “Paul Newman” Daytonas. These watches are often seen fetching very high prices during auctions.
Rolex started in 1988 manufacturing the 16520 Daytona. The watch had a 40mm case instead of a 37mm one and it had sapphire crystals instead of Plexiglas. Before the 16520, the Daytona had always featured a manual-wound movement. The breakthrough came when Rolex adopted a new automatic movement based on the Zenith El Primero 400. The heavily modified movement was then the Calibre 4030. Because of limited supply and super strong demand, the 16520 was a great success.
Some notable models included 16520 with porcelain finish dials and 10-watch-only 16528 blue dial for Rolex collectors.
In 2000, the Rolex Daytona 116520 was out. It featured a totally in-house caliber 4130 and the black dial version had been a very sought-after model from 2000-2015.
So, what has made the Daytona such a success? Maybe it is because of the limited supply. Maybe it is because of the design of the watch. Or, maybe because it is a Rolex chronograph, which has always represented precision from the day it was born. In today’s world in which big watches are in vogue, the Rolex Daytona retains its classic shape in 40mm. The dial style of the new 116500LN white resembles the “panda” style of the “Paul Newman” Daytona, which is one of the most important legacy of the Daytona. Its bezel is now ceramic and it does not attract scratches anymore. These small improvements and dedication to the original details are what it takes for a watch to become legendary.