I’m on record several places as saying that Rolex missed the mark when they opted not to issue an update/ homage of the Paul Newman for the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Daytona. The piece they did issue is gorgeous but, being rendered in platinum, a buyer needed their chiropractor on speed dial whenever they wore the thing.
A stainless steel update of the 6239/6241 would have been the perfect anniversary piece. However, Rolex is rather known for ignoring the vintage enthusiast community so that, it seems, is that.
But all is not lost. Incredibly, here we are with the next best thing. An homage to the 6263, the watch Hodinkee called the “perfect” Paul Newman.
Much the same as Tempus Machina is doing with their homage to the 6538 (heavily modifying a current ref. 114060), Les Artisans de Genève is taking a current Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116520 and having their way with it.
Les Artisans is billing the piece as an homage to the 6263 “Big Red” (for the red “DAYTONA” that arcs around the hour totalizing sub-dial at six o’clock), and it certainly is that. But it has elements of the 6264 transitional Daytona, as well as the 6239/6241, in that it features pump pushers along with a Bakelite bezel insert.
The dial is new, said to have taken two years of study and design after redesign to come up with just the right look. The sub-dials mimic the standard issue originals rather than the art deco exotic printing of the true Newman. The hands are redesigned as well, an imagined evolutionary update of the originals.
The aforementioned pump pushers are custom, hand made, and still offer 100m of water resistance for the watch.
The 116520’s calibre 4130 movement has been reworked as well, in the true spirit of a shade-tree watch mechanic, although the mods are bold-on aftermarket pieces, custom made by les Artisans. Those pieces are the winding rotor and the balance bridge, both of which are done in 22 karat gold.
Topping the piece off (or bottoming… see what I did there?) is a display case back which allows the watch’s owner to view the signed solid gold rotor along with the rest of the movement. The modified 4130 really does look like a different movement with the gold elements in place.
Overall, the Tribute to Daytona 6263 looks to be very well done. Possibly as much of a racer’s watch as you’ll ever find. It’s sure to turn heads at your next RedBarLocal get-together. Better hurry though, they’re only doing ten of each in black dial and silver dial. $22,457.76 apiece, here.
Now, if they’d just mount it on a riveted oyster bracelet…
(All images courtesy of Les Artisans de Genève, except where noted.)