Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Rolex Daytona

The Rolex Daytona is arguably the most hedonistic watch on the planet – the Dan Bilzerian of horology, if you will (albeit without the large dose of misogyny and a penchant for throwing women off rooftops). Combining the high performance engineering of sportscars, a healthy sprinkling of precious metals and the immeasurably iconic stamp of Rolex, this elusive piece is over 50 years old – and there’s reason for such longevity.

The Cosmograph Daytona saw little change until recently – and why should it? Aside from limited editions akin to the Daytona Paul Newman, the overall design and function transcends seasonal trends we see at Baselworld. Now, we see touches of modernity that avoid diluting the prestige such as a modified Zenith El Primero movement introduced in 2000. The result was far greater accuracy and as such, a far greater watch.
The watch began life as a dedication to the Daytona International Speedway in Florda. This association stretches back as far as the 1930s and the land speed records by Sir Malcom Campbell – granted, all these fellas might be six feet under but it does prove the eternal shelf life of the piece.
Cosmograph Daytona, 1963
It was not until 1963 that the designation ‘Daytona’ first appeared on the dial to capitalise on the increasing popularity of NASCAR. It was originally to be for drivers in endurance races. To this day Rolex continues its commitment to Daytona, sponsoring the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the largest race of its kind outside of Le Mans.

Limited supply of the movements meant only limited numbers of the Daytona could be produced. The sudden rise in popularity of a Rolex model that was scarce in its availability created an aura around the Daytona. Waiting lists for even the standard steel model grew to months and then years.
By the time Rolex introduced its own in-house movement to Daytona models from the year 2000, the Daytona had become the most sacred of watches to Rolex collectors. Preowned luxury watch stores such as The Watch Gallery specialise in sourcing and selling the Rolex Daytona and demand is so high it’s only rivalled by people searching on their site for the Rolex Submariner.

Technically the Daytona is still a great watch. The movement uses fewer components than a standard chronograph which over time has improved reliability. The exterior features subtle harmonious lines making it the archetypal gentleman driver’s watch.

While it’s true to say that supply has increased in the 21st century, Rolex still deliberately keep numbers low. Their least advertised yet most desired model has become something of an enigma.

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