Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is considered the ultimate chronograph. Inspired by the daring world of motor sport, this high-end timepiece is the result of aesthetic brilliance and functional innovation. Launched in 1963, the watch was created to be used exclusively by professional racing drivers who needed an extremely precise chronograph with a tachymetric scale able to measure speeds of 400 miles/hour. Now it is a world icon for superior performances, durability and reliability.
The most interesting thing is that Rolex did not name the watch Daytona right from the start. Initially, the brand used the name “Le Mans” to refer to this chronograph timepiece. The legendary Daytona name was adopted later, in 1965. To make things official, “Daytona” was also printed on the dial and an advertisement was issued stating “This is the new Rolex Chronograph. Named “Daytona” after the International Speedway where Rolex is official timepiece.”
Rolex was the main sponsor of the 24 Hours Daytona car race. This collaboration was fructuous for both the watch brand and the sports competition. Rolex made its new model popular among racing enthusiasts and highlighted the watch’s amazing functions while the event got a little bit of Rolex’s distinction and fame. In fact, the association was so advantageous that in 1991, the race was referred to as “Rolex 24”.
Since then there have been three series of Daytona models. The first series was manufactured in a considerably small number starting 1963 and until 1980. The watch had a four digits reference number, a manual winding movement and it was priced at $210. The second series was introduced in 1988. It had a Zenith El Primero customized automatic movement and a five digits model number. In 2000, the third series was unveiled and it featured a very important change. The watches were equipped with Rolex in-house movements, were COSC certified and had a six digits reference number.
Paul Newman is one of the most important celebrities that have intensively promoted Daytona watches. The really interesting thing about him is that he wasn’t an official Rolex ambassador. He was just a huge fan of motor sport and for him Daytona was the perfect wristwatch to wear during a good race. This is the reason why since 1972 and until he passed away in 2008, he was photographed countless times with a Daytona on his wrist.
His first Daytona was offered to him as a gift from his wife Joanne Woodward to mark the debut of his racing career. This happened in 1972 and the watch had a black dial and white sub-dial. It was the standard dial of the ref 6263 and not the exotic dial as many people believe. Later that year, he was spotted wearing the exotic dial version with a white dial and black sub-dials ref 6241. This version became incredibly popular and was associated with Paul Newman’s image. Today, the Daytona models worn by the star are rare collectibles valued at approximately one million dollars.
In 1988, Rolex presented two essential upgrades to the basic Daytona design. The first one was the larger case which increased from 37 mm to 40 mm, a change that was received with enthusiasms by fans around the globe who felt the need of a more masculine and imposing version. The second difference was the addition of the screw down feature for the upper and lower buttons which were designed to protect the timing features and prevent accidental use of these functions.
In their early days, Daytona watches weren’t that popular so demand for these models was pretty low. This is why the timepieces were really low priced. The first pieces were about $200, including taxes. Over the years, their fame increased and so did the price. Now a Daytona is a luxury timepiece that is available only to elite clientele and the vintage models can be bought at record prices.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is a remarkable watch that came a long way since its debut. It is an iconic racing legend that attracts motor sports fans and fashion enthusiasts, a stunning chronograph with amazing reliability. Wearing this timepiece is a true style statement and the really wonderful thing about it is that it looks great both with a formal or casual attire.