Officially released in 1963, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona has become the blueprint for chronograph watches. The Daytona, as well as Rolex’s pre-Daytona chronographs (Ref. 6234 and Ref. 6238) were developed during a golden age of motor racing; they were inspired by and created for race car drivers and enthusiasts. In fact, the Rolex Daytona is named after the infamous Daytona International Speedway. The watch features a chronograph complication and tachymeter scale bezel. These two features allow measurement of speed based on a known distance – perfect for automotive racing. Over the decades, the Rolex Daytona has reached far beyond automotive circles. Its slim profile, simple-yet-comprehensive layout, and superlative quality have put the Daytona in a league of its own. Dress it up with a leather strap, dress it down with a rubber strap, or keep it on the bracelet – you can’t go wrong with this timeless silhouette. Simply put, the Rolex Daytona is an icon. It’s a no-brainer for those seeking a luxury chronograph.
Like anything in production since the 1960’s, the Daytona has gone through a lot of changes. It can be hard to keep track of the differences, but it’s easy to imagine two Daytona categories: 4-digit references (62XX) and non-4-digit references (165XX, 1165XX). Daytonas with 4-digit reference numbers are hand-wound, 37mm watches manufactured between 1963-1998. This reference series includes the Paul Newman Daytona(s): references 6239, 6241, 6262, 6264, 6263, 6265. In 1988, Rolex rehauled the Daytona, retiring the 62XX reference series.
The new 165XX series saw an increase in size to 40mm, sapphire crystal instead of Plexiglass, and most importantly, an automatic movement. Based on Zenith’s El Primero 400, Rolex’s Caliber 4030 was the first automatic movement in a Daytona. This movement is a ‘Superlative Chronometer’, which means it meets Rolex’s proprietary accuracy, waterproofing, and anti magnetism standards (as well as COSC’s prerequisite ‘chronometer’ standards). This certification is demarcated on the dial: reading “Rolex Oyster Perpetual Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified”. Yes – that’s a lot of words. This 5-digit reference series was hugely successful due to its looks, performance, and versatility. The Rolex Daytona 16520 looks great on Everest’s Curved End rubber, leather, and nylon straps: all of which are tailor fit to the 16520’s dimensions, seamlessly hugging the case and lugs.In 2000, Rolex released the 1165XX series. At a glance, this 6-digit reference series is very similar to its predecessor, but the beauty is in the details. These new Daytonas feature the fully in-house Rolex Caliber 4130 – a slimmer, easier-to-service, technically superior movement to any outgoing model. This vertically integrated movement, like the 4030, is a Superlative Chronometer. However, Rolex was able to simplify things, reducing the amount of parts used by 20%. A slimmer movement allows for a slimmer case, giving the modern Daytona its extremely elegant, very wearable dimensions. This svelte case design makes the 6-digit Daytona reference series a great everyday wear. However, the bracelet doesn’t always match the occasion. Luckily, the 116520 and 116500LN (ceramic bezel) look great on a number of straps. Everest’s Curved End rubber, leather, and nylon straps are tailor fit to the dimensions of the 116520 and 116500LN reference Daytonas, seamlessly hugging the case and lugs. Dress it up with leather, dress it down with rubber or nylon, or reduce the weight with either of the three – Everest has you covered. If you’re looking for a strap for your Rolex Daytona (5-digit or 6-digit reference series) , Everest bands are your best bet.