Rolex Daytona Heritage

[Source: www.beckertime.com]

The Rolex Daytona was launched in 1963 to celebrate the sponsorship of the Daytona 24-hour race in that same year. It replaced the Rolex Chronograph which didn’t sell very well. At first, the Daytona didn’t sell particularly well either, but that soon changed as enthusiasts recognized the inherent qualities of the watch, and the cult following soon grew.

The design was made to satisfy the needs of racing drivers. Every Daytona includes the chronograph mechanism and a bezel with tachometric scale, allowing wearers to measure elapsed time and calculate average speed with perfect precision.

Rolex Daytona Features
The Rolex Daytona has precise movements for accurate reading in all measurements of time. The central second hand moves precisely to one eighth of a second. This was originally to allow drivers to keep exact track of their progress in a race. The chrono at 9 o’clock shows hours, the one at 3 o’clock, minutes.

The Rolex Daytona also features a stopwatch. This was realized in a separate second hand that can be started, stopped and reset. The buttons are located on the side of the watch case for ease of use.

It was this stopwatch feature that was incorporated into the design that was the essential element that makes the Daytona the best for race drivers.

Rolex Daytona History

[Source: www.beckertime.com]

If there ever was a watch that has become a living legend, it has to be the Rolex Daytona. It is so revered and coveted that collectors around the world are willing to wait years and pay exorbitant black market prices for the privilege of wearing this universally acclaimed timepiece around their wrists.

What is really surprising when you see the frenzy surrounding this sought-after object of desire, is that upon its introduction in 1961 the watch, known at the time as the Cosmograph — a revamped version of the chronograph model launched by Rolex in 1937 — was not very popular at all.

Introduced in 1961 using a Valjoux 72 manual-wind 3-register chronograph movement, the Cosmograph, Cosmograph Daytona and Oyster Cosmograph Daytona were produced continuously until 1988. Relatively unpopular, they were replaced by a bigger Daytona featuring self-winding movements, using a slightly modified version of Zenith’s El Primero caliber, under the name Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph. In 2000 Rolex replaced the Zenith movement with a 3-register chronograph movement entirely of its own design, the Rolex 4130 caliber (model number: 116520). Due to its limited production and increasing popularity, the stainless steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is considered a rare watch to own.

Although Rolex continues to manufacture a version of the “Daytona” to the present time, the rarest versions of the Rolex Daytona are the first versions, the 6238, 6239, 6240, 6241, 6262, 6263 6264 and 6265 References, made from 1961 to 1987, and now out of production. Another rare version known as the 6269, there are only 15 known models of the 6269. The 6238, 6239, 6241 and 6262 References were the first versions, and were not “Oyster” versions, they did not have a screw down winding crown or screw down timing buttons. The movement used was a manual wind Valjoux cal. 72, named the Rolex Cal. 722. The 6263, 6264 and 6265 References were produced commencing 1970, were Oyster versions with screw down crown and screw down timing buttons. The movement used remained based on the manual wind Valjoux cal. 72, but with some refinements, and was called the Rolex Cal. 727. These Daytonas are the original Rolex Daytona watches, and are very rare and very collectible. The movement has proven to be exceptionally reliable and accurate. In fact, the Cal. 727 was certified as a chronometer in some cases.[2]
The most rare Daytonas are those with the so-called “Paul Newman” dial. The appearance differences between a Paul Newman dial and a normal Daytona dial of the time are subtle and often unnoticeable to the untrained eye. First, to be authentic, a Paul Newman dial must be in a Reference 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264 or 6265 watch, installed by Rolex Geneva as original. All of these References had acrylic domed crystals. Once this simple provenance has been determined, the easiest visual way for the layman to determine a Paul Newman dial from a normal Daytona dial is in the sub-dials (the dials that are the opposite or contrasting color of the main dial). The sub-dials of a Paul Newman dial has block markers instead of lines, will have crosshairs across each sub-dial meeting at centre (the normal Daytona dial does not), and the minutes sub-dial placed at 9:00 is marked at 15, 30, 45 and 60, whereas a normal Daytona dial is marked at 20, 40 and 60. The dial may or may not have the word “Daytona” written on the dial above the hour sub-dial located at 6:00. The dial came in four color and layout combinations, and was installed as an option by Rolex on the Daytona line of watches in the Reference 6239, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264 or 6265 watches. The watch has been out of production since the early 1970’s, and Rolex is not able to supply any replacement version of it.
It is said that Paul Newman wore this watch until his death in 2008, and has done so since 1972, the watch having been given to him by his wife, Joanne Woodward, when Newman took up automobile racing.

The original Daytona watches were not in demand when produced, and were available for little money, but have gained rapid esteem in the collector milieu and today are known as the “Holy Grail” of collectible watches and fetch astronomical prices at auction, purchased by avid collectors in the know and other cognoscenti.

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