If you’re a fan of mechanical watches, there’s some part of you that loves a good complication. Even if you’re a strictly no-date watch wearer, you might find yourself looking up the latest perpetual calendar from Patek, or watching YouTube videos about super rare rattrapante chronographs.
It’s hard to beat a chronograph when it comes to complications. We love the functionality of an integrated stopwatch and the design appeal of screw-down pushers. Rolex offers just a single chronograph watch, the beloved Daytona.More than other Rolex watches, the Daytona has a particularly strong mythology associated with it.
The name is synonymous with high-speed racing, and vintage Daytonas sell at higher prices than almost any other vintage watches. They’re also almost near impossible to get, with years-long waitlists at many ADs.
So why the obsession with the Daytona? Some of its appeal comes down to the fact that it’s a chronograph, and an incredibly well-made one at that. The Daytona is famous for its three, inverted-color subdials. With the three subdials, the Daytona can track intervals up to 12 hours in length. It has screw-down pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock. The pusher at 2 starts (and stops) the chronograph, while the pusher at 4 will reset it. On the most recent reference, the 30 minute subdial is located conveniently at the 2, so it’s easy to track minute increments under half an hour. The hour subdial rests at the 4, with the seconds hand in its own separate subdial at the 6. The bezel features an accurate tachymeter, now in fade-proof, scratch-proof ceramic. The combination of a chronograph complication, symmetrical subdials, and a functional tachymeter appeal to collectors who love a full dial and unique movement complications in a watch. Add in the mystique associated with Paul Newman and NASCAR, and you have a chronometer that’s tough to resist.
Some would say it's too early to be talking 2021 predictions, but the joy of conjecturing is just too tempting to resist. Many people agree that the Cerachrom iteration of the Daytona gilded the lily in the best possible way, lending unparallelled strength and sheen to the bezel. Recently, Rolex updated the Daytona by putting it on an Oysterflex bracelet. This also upped the appeal for those who are drawn to the Daytona not only for its functionality but for its beauty. With these two recent updates, what can Rolex possibly do to improve upon perfection?
One possibility is with an upgrade to the caliber 4130, but this isn’t a huge possibility. Rolex has been using its proprietary in-house movement since 2000, after it transitioned away from the heavily modified Zenith in the caliber 4030. Caliber 4130 uses a blue Parachrom hairspring, so there’s always the possibility of that changing to a Syloxi hairspring. However, Rolex has kept the Parachrom hairspring in most of its references, unlike Omega, who has moved silicon hairsprings into several of its models.
No matter what changes are in store for the Rolex Daytona, it will likely keep the strong appeal and market resale value it’s enjoyed for years now. After all, a chronograph is good for everything from timing regattas, searing a steak on both sides, or officiating a three-legged race. There’s just something badass about using a highly-calibrated chronometer to time everyday activities, and the joy of that isn’t likely to fade in the near future.
Obviously, if you own a Daytona, you NEED to have a racing leather strap. (We don’t make the rules, we just enforce them.) Our racing leather straps are built with the same smooth-grained leather used in luxury vehicles, and they feature contrast stitching in white or red to highlight the curve of the band. Let your strap be a nod to the NASCAR history of the Daytona.
Written by Meghan Clark
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