Rolex Cosmograph Daytona: Racing Legend
The first watches with a stopwatch function from the Geneva-based manufacturer Rolex were initially simply called “chronographs”. The Price: A little over $200. The first reference 6234 was built between 1955 and 1961, and around 500 watches of this type leave Rolex production every year. The chronographs were not particularly successful – the watches developed into true grandfather clocks among retailers. Today, the models called Pre-Daytona are in demand and rare - 20,000 euros is just a starting price for one of the rare models with a silver or black dial in a stainless steel case.
Le Mans instead of Daytona
Timekeeping and racing are closely related in the 1960s, Rolex competes to take time for various races. The 24-hour races enjoy special status. In 1964, the Rolex management is sure to become the timekeeper for the Le Mans race - the deal does not go through, but a chronograph with the name is already planned. In 1965, the first Rolex chronograph was given the name Cosmograph, and in the same year Daytona also officially appeared as a designation. At the 24-hour race there, the watch will be awarded as a prize. The tachymeter scale on the engraved stainless steel bezel makes it possible to determine the average speed.
With the reference 6239, the namesake of a specific version of his Rolex Daytona is found: Paul Newman. The American actor with the steel blue eyes also races, successfully and quickly. At peak times he has his own racing team, and he has had a Rolex Daytona on his arm since the late 1960s. For collectors, a genuine Newman Daytona is a winner in the lottery: such a watch can fetch up to 150,000 euros or more at auction. There are glaring differences - not every old Daytona is a Paul Newman. The original Newman watch has a white dial with black chronograph totalisers, red printed stop-seconds scale and an engraved steel tachymeter bezel. The increase in value is enormous with this particular model.
The Phillips auction house in New York even achieved the all-time record price of 17,752,500 US dollars for a watch owned by Paul Newman. That's the equivalent of 15 million euros. Newman's wife had the engraving on the bottom "DRIVE CAREFULLY - ME".
The Valjoux caliber 72 is used in various stages of development as the drive for all classic Daytona models with manual winding. It was not until 1988 that Rolex made the Cosmograph Daytona an automatic watch. The drive selected is the Zenith El Primero, a milestone in chronograph history to this day. At 36,000 A/h, however, it is a bit too spirited and is being revised accordingly at Rolex and given the caliber number caliber 4030. A reduction in the frequency to 28,800 A/h ensures longer power reserve and also longer service intervals - there are no losses in accuracy .
A separate movement for the Daytona
With the new millennium, Rolex sets new standards and develops its own movement for the Cosmograph Daytona. Caliber 4130 has 44 jewels, 72 hours of power reserve and the Rolex-typical Kif shock protection for balance and escapement wheel. The new movement is hardly visible from the outside: the case is the same as its predecessor, only the dial has changed. While the Daytona with Zenith movement still had the small seconds at nine o'clock, Rolex's own caliber has the running seconds at six o'clock. In addition, the hand axes of the minute and hour stoppers are outside the central axis in the upper area of the dial. Only one watch on the market has this layout: The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph.
In 2015, Rolex introduced the new certification as a “superlative chronometer”.The new standard goes beyond the COSC chronometer test and also certifies the watch has passed strict Rolex tests on the fully assembled watch
At Baselworld 2016, Rolex presented two new stainless steel versions with a black Cerachrom monobloc bezel. This black ceramic bezel is meant to commemorate the 1965 model, which also sported a black bezel. In 2017, Rolex introduced the Daytona in yellow, white and Everose gold. The classic is now also available on an Oysterflex strap. Rolex knows what legends live on: The perfection of a myth.