Watch & Learn | The Rolex Daytona – a legendary racing watch

A statement, an investment, a legend – the Rolex Daytona offers more than just a time display. This watch gets its legendary title from the most famous motor racing circuit in the United States: Daytona. Over the last few decades, Daytona has managed to enthral people both on and off the racetrack. It has developed into a true style icon that no watch enthusiast can ignore.

Cosmograph Daytona: The dream watch of millions

The dream watch of millions


The Cosmograph Daytona represents much more than just a men’s watch, it also represents a first class lifestyle. The sapphire crystal incorporated into the Daytona chronograph clearly reflects success, style and ambition.

It is not surprising that the name Daytona originates from the famous Daytona motor race in Florida. After all, the Cosmograph Daytona has the same functions as a race car driver’s. The multifaceted watch face, with three chronograph counters – reminiscent of the cockpit of a luxurious race car – allows for accurate time measurements ideal for timekeeping at the push of a button. The bold tachymetric scale on the dial allows for the precise measurement of the speed of a racing car.

Like other models of the Oyster Perpetual collection, the Cosmograph Daytona is waterproof: the pushers and the screw-down winding crown ensuring waterproof capability up to 100 metres.

An iconic watch

This brilliant men’s watch looks back on a fascinating history. After its launch in 1963, the Cosmograph Daytona was overshadowed by other great Rolex watches, including the Submariner and the GMT Master. Years later, pioneers including the actor, Paul Newman, discovered the beauty of these watches and quickly kickstarted the Daytona-fervour. The prices went to enormous heights and not even the second-hand market could keep up with the increasing demand. The Daytona in stainless steel especially enjoyed popularity and is an object of desire to this day.

Ironically, the watches of the Daytona line were not equipped with Rolex calibres until the year 2000. The first references (e.g. 6239, 6240 or 6263) were endowed with the adjusted Valjoux 72. Up to the year 1988, Rolex used a modified automatic movement based on the El Primero by Zenith, including the Ref. 16520. In the year 2000 however, Rolex finally manufactured their own chronometer 4130 movement. The star of the Rolex family has been manufactured in-house ever since and guarantees flawless expertise and timeless elegance.


A Rolex watch for race drivers: Winner Daytona

The history of the Rolex Daytona is reminiscent of a Hollywood success story. At its launch in 1963, the Rolex Daytona watch was intended to complete the collection of professional Rolex timepieces, which already included the Submariner and the Explorer.

As seen before with Rolex marketing, the company chose a conspicuous name that could easily be remembered: Cosmograph. The stylish chronograph watch does not only stand out due to its name, but also due to the tachymetric scale on the bezel. The adjustment made it easier to read the time as well as the speed per hour. A few years after its introduction, the first Cosmographs with the writing “Daytona” were launched. Initially, Rolex wanted to introduce the title, “Le Mans” - an allusion to the famous French race - but this cooperation was not successful. Tribute to the famous races of Daytona in Florida highlights the connection between Rolex and motorsports.

Today, Rolex is the principal sponsor for the “24 hours of Daytona” race and every winner receives a Rolex Cosmograph with a special engraving on the case back. Collectors call these rare Daytona models “Winner Daytona”.


The Rolex Daytona in steel, gold or platinum: Making the right choice

The days of the Rolex Daytona being regarded as an unpopular shelf warmer are long gone. The years following the introduction of the model displayed an unsatisfactory demand, but the ‘80s, however, abruptly brought about a quick change to the Daytona appeal.

The owners of the first Daytona models with four-digit references can count themselves fortunate: These wristwatches have experienced a phenomenal rise in value throughout the years.

Today, the rare “Paul Newman” Daytona models in particular, cannot be purchased for under €100,000. Rolex only manufactured a small number of this edition as the exotic dial was considered too colourful at the time. Less rare and vintage Daytona models are still considered dream timepieces by collectors nonetheless. Rolex contributed considerably to the Daytona phenomenon: Even though the company produced the watch both in stainless steel and in 14-carat and 18-carat gold, the production of the steel edition was kept intentionally low. Thus, low supply and high demand have resulted in long waiting lists and high prices on the second-hand market.

The waitlist for a steel Daytona hardly exists anymore, in such high demand, they are offered to 'preferred clients' with an established buying history with the Authorised Dealer. The option of a second-hand Cosmograph Daytona might be the right choice – and it does not have to be a used watch since many re-sellers like ourselves offer Daytona's that are just as good as new. The Rolex Daytona models that utilise a Zenith “El Primero” (Ref. 16520) modified automatic winding movement are an optical delight. The latest Daytona models in steel (Ref. 116520), stainless steel and yellow gold (Ref. 116523), and rose gold (Ref. 116505) present a shrewd investment. Not to mention that the Rolex Daytona in Platinum, which is a slightly heavier Cosmograph with a light-blue dial (Ref. 116506), can be found on the wish list of many Rolex enthusiasts.


Like to sell a Rolex Daytona watch?

At Beat The Waitlist, not only can you buy a Rolex Daytona and other coveted watches at an attractive price, you can sell to us too. There's more detailed information about the purchase and sale on this page. Alternatively, get in touch with us by phone or email. We'll give you all the help and advice you need to put up your watch.