Introduced in 1963, the Rolex Daytona stands as the pinnacle of racing chronographs. Originally crafted to serve the high-octane world of motorsports, its tachymetric bezel and distinctive sub-dials provide unmatched precision...
About Rolex Daytona
Learn about the history and famous owners of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, especially the now-infamous Paul Newman watch. Rolex began offering the Daytona under the name Cosmograph in the early 1960s. While the model has undergone some changes and updates, it remains the same core timepiece it has always been. We will also go over some of the different cosmetic and mechanical changes to the Rolex Daytona over the years. If you are an avid collector or enthusiast, this is very useful for identifying and dating a Daytona. Certain model runs or years have cosmetic and mechanical features that aren't found on other versions of the Daytona. If you are after the Musketeers Daytona, for example, you need to know what to look for.
Additionally, this article will explore the mechanics of the Rolex Daytona, giving more insight into the creation and master craftsmanship of the watch. This includes the various iterations of the chronograph and other features of this magnificent watch. Finally, you will learn about recent updates to the Rolex Daytona and what current models offer.
History of the Rolex Daytona
The Rolex Cosmograph made its debut in 1963. While it was not Rolex's first foray into chronograph watches, it would soon become its most ubiquitous. The Cosmograph appealed to motorsport fans and participants. The chronograph would clock car speeds on the track with precision and accuracy. Rolex quickly added the "Daytona" name to the Cosmograph, to enhance this appeal to motorists. However, the watch was a bit of a flop, sales-wise.
Paul Newman's Daytona
Paul Newman, arguably one of the biggest movie stars of the '60s and '70s, was a huge fan of the Rolex Daytona and owned several. This increased the appeal of the watch to other consumers, leading to a rise in sales. Newman's 1968 Daytona infamously sold at auction for $17.8 million dollars, the highest price a wristwatch has ever sold for. There are three generations of Rolex Daytona watch. The first generation ran from 1963-1988.
Three Generations of Rolex Daytona
Every watch from the first generation has a manual-wind Valjoux movement and a 37mm case. Throughout the first generation, Rolex introduced various features such as screw-down pushers. Yet the core watch design remained. In 1988, Rolex updated the Cosmograph Daytona with self-winding Zenith movements. The case size also increased to 40mm and added crown-guards. In 2000, Rolex launched the third and most recent generation of Daytonas. The most notable change is that the running seconds hand moved from the top of the watch face to the bottom.
Notable Rolex Daytona Features And Details
Throughout the Rolex Daytona's history, there have been certain details that appeared on various models. This means that it is easy to identify an older Rolex Cosmograph Daytona just by the cosmetic details:
- The first year of Rolex Cosmograph models doesn't say "Daytona" at all. This came out in 1964 and sits below the 12 o'clock position on the dial.
- In 1965 Rolex added features from the Oyster to the Daytona, including the water-resistant pump pushers.
- In 1967, Rolex moved "Daytona" to below the tachometer dial at 6 o'clock. These are the "Big Red" models.
- The "Paul Newman" version is officially called an "exotic" dial and features a contrasting outer seconds track (usually red) and Roman numerals
- After Rolex took red away as an option, they reintroduced it just a few years later. Most three-color dials are known as "Musketeer" dials.
- Daytonas produced between 1970-1972 feature a more accurate Valjoux movement.
- If you're looking for a gold Daytona, look to the 1970s. This is when Rolex started certifying their gold Daytonas as chronometers.
- Starting in 1988, Rolex switched from manual winding to self-winding.
- Many mid-80s-90's models of Daytona feature four lines of text on the watch face.
- Rolex Daytonas manufactured after 2000 have Lumin inlays on the hour markers.
- Ceramic bezels appeared in the 1980s, but are most common on newer models.
Modern Rolex Daytona Models
All modern Rolex Cosmograph Daytona models feature the in-house 4130 movement. This movement has been in production since the year 2000.
The stainless steel watch features what Rolex calls Oystersteel, which is highly resistant to corrosion. The bezel is a black ceramic ring, hearkening back to the original plexiglass black bezels on the watch. The face of the watch itself comes in either black or white, with a red "Daytona" above the seconds dial at 6 o'clock.
At first glance, the platinum Daytona may look similar to the Stainless Steel. It is easy to distinguish on sight because of its blue face. The bezel is also a dark chestnut brown instead of black. There are two different offerings of face style in the platinum Daytona model. The first is ice blue with black rings around the secondary hands. The second is solid ice blue platinum, with inset gemstones on the 3 and 9 o'clock positions.
Stainless Steel & Gold
If you prefer the classic two-tone watch look of stainless steel and yellow gold, Rolex also offers this for the Cosmograph Daytona. The bezel of this model is yellow gold, while the bracelet is a material Rolex calls "yellow Rolesor." This is an alloy of gold and stainless steel, to increase durability. The face of this model is available in several different colors and two configurations. The basic face colors are white, black, and yellow gold. There is also a black variant new to 2021 that features solid yellow gold bezels on the secondary dials.
Yellow Gold, Rose Gold, White Gold
Other than the color of the gold, there is not much to differentiate these models from each other. Each bezel matches the material of the rest of the watch body. The Everose gold models are available with black or matching Everose Gold faces on all-gold bracelets. The yellow gold models offer the largest variety of options. Instead of detailing each combination, let's look at some of them:
- Additional face options besides meteorite include green, black and red, white and gold, black and gold, and solid yellow gold.
- Bezels are available in black or yellow gold.
- Oysterflex bands come with several different face colors, including the meteorite.
Buying a Rolex Daytona
If you're looking for a good deal on one of the world's most legendary watches, consider buying pre-owned Rolex Daytona. A reputable and experienced Rolex dealer like WatchGuys will be able to find you the perfect Rolex Daytona for your needs and styles. If you are in the market for a Rolex Daytona, please don't hesitate to give us a call at (213) 302-4400, so that we may further assist you in your watch purchase.
For customers looking to sell a Rolex Daytona look no further, WatchGuys is the most trusted place to sell a Rolex for best price. Give us a call today at (213) 302-4400 to speak to a Rolex buying expert or click here to fill out our sell Rolex form.