Obviously, the entire line of Rolex watches appeals to the true Rolex enthusiast/collector; however, ask any Rolex enthusiast what their favorite Rolex is, and most likely, without hesitation, you will be answered with the Daytona. Which Rolex Daytona might be up for debate, since a chronograph style Rolex has been available for over fifty years. There is something very compelling about the Daytona with its multitude of dials and numbers.
The popularity of the Rolex Daytona was initially stimulated by Sir Malcom Campbell the British racing phenomenon, who kept setting new world speed records not only in Britain but all over the world and continued to set them on the Florida beaches as far back as the 1930s -hence the name associated with Daytona. He became the official ambassador for Rolex to represent its watches right after Rolex’s first ambassador, a lady swimmer named Mercedes Glietze. However, she had only set one official record (swimming the English Channel) while Sir Malcom continued to burn the rubber and set numerous records for years to come.
Rolex originally introduced the Cosmograph Daytona in 1960 (Ref: 6239) with the 72B Valjoux movement and the case was 37mm. Let us take a look into the past. Rolex originally produced the Daytona with a 72B Valjoux movement; Rolex later replaced the 72B movement with the 722/1. Also to note, it was not until 1965 was the Ref: 6239 replaced by the Ref: 6262 model. Which featured the new 727 Valjoux movement. In the same year, Rolex also released a new watch -the Ref: 6240. This was the first Rolex model that featured screw-down water proof pushers and the name “Oyster” appeared on the dial which was rated waterproof to 165 feet. The current Daytona models have grown in size to 40mm and now have a completely in-house movement made by Rolex.
One Rolex Daytona that is sought after is the “panda” white Daytona also known as the “Paul Newman Daytona.” This remarkably attractive watch can be worn for either dress or sport with the white dial and black outlined subdials and Arabic numerals. The story of how the watch became nicknamed after the famous actor is that Mr. Newman actually wore the watch in the movie “Winning” in 1969 also staring Joanne Woodward. The movie was incredibly popular, and Paul reportedly continued to wear his Rolex Daytona for years afterward. It wasn’t that long ago that the Daytona was difficult to purchase, at least brand new from a Rolex dealer.
The Daytona has evolved quite a bit since 1969; there were several model changes through out the years. Probably one of the best was the 16518 Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona which was only available in 18K yellow gold. A real heft of a paper weight on the wrist. It came with a leather strap and 18K yellow gold deployment clasp. This watch was truly noticeable on anyone’s wrist from 50 feet away. Rolex once again released a new version of this model only in white gold in 1997 , model 16519.
One reason we believe what makes any Daytona a man’s must have fashion accessory is the ability to change the strap on occasion. There are endless leather straps and band options to chose from when one decides to wear the Daytona. Black or Brown alligator, saddle tan calf leather – even the vintage strap looks like a match made in heaven. There are just too many to list. It is a unique, timeless piece of horological and racing history that is loved by many, especially the true die hard Rolex enthusiast and collector.