The New Daytona

 The New Daytona


The Cosmograph Daytona now beats to the rhythm of a Rolex Movement. Rolex devotees had been eagerly awaiting it. It was presented at the opening of the recent World Watch, Clock and Jewellery Show, Basel 2000. The new Cosmograph Daytona, equipped with the self-winding Rolex movement, it will doubtless remain one of the most striking events in watchmaking this springtime.

We first need to situate the arrival of this new time-keeper within the historical context which made its predecessor an emblematic show piece of contemporary watchmaking.

For the past forty years, the success of the Rolex Cosmograph has continued unabated given a three-year delivery period on steel models. The myth linked to the Cosmograph owes much to terminology. The reference to descriptive astronomy (cosmography) – the very essence of time measurement – is enough to grasp the ambition encapsulated within this prestigious model.

From 1961 to the present day, expectations have not fundamentally altered, and Rolex recently spoke of this model in terms of precision and functional efficiency as a ”precision instrument used for various calculations and tests”, also indicating that ”The Rolex Cosmograph may be especially used for two types of calculation: timing performances and the calculation of hourly speeds, such as during a running race or a motor-race for example”.

The Cosmograph is a chronometer-certified chronograph carrying the seal of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute. To grasp the full scope of the Cosmograph, it is also essential to realise that it is the work of a company which has itself attained mythical status. If there were only one name that simply had to be cited in the watchmaking world, there is no doubt that Rolex would carry the day over the other legends that have made their mark on horological history.

One need only mention the brand among its manufacturing competitors to hear reaffirmation of the respect in which they hold this ”monument”. Rolex unquestionably holds a place all its own, in a sphere apparently unaffected by the various currents affecting watchmaking as a whole.

Technical Highlights

The Cosmograph Daytona by Rolex had thus far been fitted with the Zenith El Primero movement, which itself has an excellent reputation. But the Geneva based company, famed for its discretion and restraint, is currently making it a point of honour to become less and less dependent on other firms. The bottom line is a determination to achieve ever greater mastery of its production. This being said, the design and production of a reliable chronograph movement is no easy task and demands tremendous investments in terms of both time and money.

Few have dared to tackle this feat. In fact, the project of creating this new ”in-house” chronograph movement first took shape in 1993. The idea governing the development of the calibre was extremely straightforward: to build a movement that was easy to maintain, particularly with a view to facilitating the work of people in charge of after-sales service around the world, and thereby to enhance customer service. However, concepts that are easy to explain are not necessarily easy to put into practice, as the engineers in charge of the project were to phrase it: ”it is always easy to make things complicated, but far harder to make a simple movement”.

Such was the route that Rolex took, with a guiding principle of sweeping away what already existed and attempting to start afresh from nothing, or virtually so. The construction of this chronograph movement 4130 is built on a new architectural approach and involves less parts than a normal chronograph. This implied the registering of numerous patents for the conception of the object, which meets the demanding Rolex standards of ruggedness and high-performance.

All movements are subjected to the rigorous battery of tests performed by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) and are certified as such. Fitted with a Rolex oscillator, this self-winding movement boasts a power- reserve of around 72 hours – allowing one to leave the watch unworn during the weekend – for a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. This chronograph movement 4130 underwent a large variety of test procedures over a long period of time before being publicly presented and launched on the market. Moreover, in the words of Pascal O’Neill, the director in charge of communication: ”at Rolex, tests are not done on prototypes, but on series in actual industrial production con- ditions. This means that development can take a considerable amount of time, but that when it is comple- ted, we are entirely sure of the product and its qualities, particularly in terms of reliability.”

The first new generation Cosmograph Daytona watches available at points of sale over the coming weeks. The first to appear will be the gold versions, including four ladies models with straps in yellow, pink, green or blueleather and matching dials in yellow and pink mother of pearl, green chrysoprase or turquoise. These new Cosmograph models will be easily recognisable thanks to the positioning of the 12-hour and 30–;minute counters slightly below the 9 o’clock–3 o’clock horizontal line.

Cosmograph Year 40There are certain names in watchmaking which have an almost magical ring to them. Such is the case of the ”Cosmograph” by Rolex, which already has a rich and splendid history behind it, causing it to have become a genuine myth in its own right.

This enviable position among the time-keepers that have made their mark on the century owes nothing to chance. In simple terms, the Cosmograph is a faithful reflection of society’s concern to remain on the cutting edge of technology. All the Cosmographs are in perfect line with this ambition, as a brief overview confirms. It was in 1961 that the Cosmograph family first appeared on the market, taking over from the ”Antimagnetic” line.

The ”Cosmograph”, ”Cosmograph Daytona” and ”Oyster Cosmograph Daytona” chronographs were produced continuously until 1988, when they were replaced with versions featuring self-winding movements (El Primero calibre) under the name ”Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph”.

To launch the Cosmograph family in 1961, Rolex placed the emphasis on a resolutely sports oriented, in line with the Submariner (1953) and GMT Master (1954) models.

This new family has also inherited certain features from the ”Centograph”, one of the brand’s first technical watches,a one-of-a- kind model produced in 1938. Over the first 27 years of production, the ”Cosmograph Daytona” watches were to un- dergo a certain number of minor modifications which led to several variations on the basic theme. But they were all driven by the highly respected Valjoux 13 lignes movement, modified by Rolex and known as R72. The dials featured three counters located at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock and respectively displaying thirty minutes, twelve hours or the seconds.

The caseback and pushbuttons were not yet screwed in. The dials carried the names ”Rolex Cosmograph”, ”Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona” or ”Rolex Cosmograph Daytona”. These models, which immediately achieved great popularity, came on steel or gold bracelets only. At the end of the sixties, Rolex offered a new option which immediately aroused much interest among connoisseurs. The difference lay in the dial which was different from the standard model in terms of the hour-markers and the colour of the totalizers.

These special Cosmographs, nicknamed ”Paul Newman” by enthusiasts, are still great favourites among collectors. 1977 witnessed the commercialisation of a new and more modern version featuring a black dial and screw-locked pushbuttons. This inno- vation was obviously in tune with a need to improve the water- resistance as requested by clients.

The 1988 arrival of Cosmograph Daytona watches in the Oyster Perpetual (self – winding) chronometer – certified version marked a new chapter in the Cosmograph saga.The latest Cosmograph with its Rolex 4130 movement will undoubtedly be the hero of a new story in the making.

Source:- Michael Jeannot 2000

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