Rolex Daytona History
The elaborate history of the Rolex Daytona started with what is these days called the pre-Daytona, the Ref 6238 Chronograph. This predecessor has the tachymeter scale on the dial but with the coming of the Ref 6239 in 1963, the actual first Daytona, the tachymeter was engraved in the bezel and this then becomes one of the prominent features of the watch.
Rolex Daytona Cosmograph
The now so well known Daytona was introduced as the Cosmograph and the initial idea was to call the watch the Rolex LeMans. Although the name LeMans never appeared on the dial, on the first models until 1964 Daytona did not either.
Why Rolex went for Daytona is debated. It might be as a reference to Sir Malcolm Campbell, the ” The speed King” who was the first real ambassador of Rolex and broke land-speed records on Daytona beach. It might just have to do with proper marketing and the push of Rolex into the US. Linking Rolex to the Daytona international speedway, yearly sponsoring the Rolex24 already from 1962.
Another prominent feature which sets the Daytona apart from other models was the inverse color scheme of the dial. It came in a black dial with white sub-dials and with a white dial with black sub-dials. This was a first for Rolex and gave the watch a very recognisable look as did the tachymeter. It continued this until today although it must be said that Eric Clapton used to own a Daytona called the “albino” with a silver monochrome dial.
The tachymeter scale engraved on the bezel went up to 300 until about 1967. On models after that time it went only up to 200 until much later with the release of a limited edition of the Ref 16528 the tachymeter went even higher up to 400 on the bezel.
The very early models, until approximately 1964, had the marks all hatched and unlike the modern ones had a mark 275. These are very rare indeed but not as rare as the double swiss underline 6039.
The Ref 6240 came in 1965 and had quiet a different look to the original because of its metal bezel with black plastic insert and white numerals. It came only in stainless steel and had screw-down buttons instead of the push-down to make it more watertight.
The Ref 6241 comes a year later with push-down buttons and can be acquired in gold versions as well as in stainless steel.
The name most associated with the Daytona is of course Paul Newman. Although allegedly Paul Newman and Rolex never had any business deal the fact that he wore the Daytona and Rolex making use of this fact made these particular Daytona’s highly collectable and highly priced. The “Paul Newman” Daytona distinguishes itself as seen on the picture on the left above from the normal Daytona pictured on the left below by the different dial.
Although you could get the Daytona in many different varieties Watch itself did not change much until in 1988 the Valjoux 727 movement was replaced with the self-winding caliber 4030 based on the Zenith El Primero 400. With this change the watch grew to 40mm diameter and the reference numbers got changed adding one more digit. With the introduction of this “new” Daytona the watch becomes immensely popular. Before this, Daytona’s were not in high demand at all like now a days. The timing of Rolex was perfect as watch collecting was at a high and the new model started the increase of value of the older ones.This new Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Chronometer stays in production until the year 2000.
In 2001 the caliber 4030 is replaced with the 4130 caliber which is entirely designed and manufactured by Rolex itself. The Daytona was one of the last Rolexes which did not yet have its own movement. This year, 2013, the Rolex Daytona history will be marked with its 50th anniversary. And it will be marked by Rolex with the 116506. This Daytona is made fully out of 950 platinum. It has a ceramic bezel, a 40mm case and the 4130 movement. Taking in consideration the price tag of $75000 it will not be a Rolex for the common man, it is already destined to be a collectors item. Click here to see our present selection.