The story of the Rolex Cosmograph could be called the most chaotic of all the Rolex Oyster models. After a name change and an unprecedented spike in popularity, this Rolex is also one of the most coveted. Interestingly enough, the Daytona Cosmograph was originally considered a failure – Rolex couldn’t even give them away if they tried! These days, some Rolex Daytona models can go for over $30,000!
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona History
Rolex has a long and distinguished history in the world of motor racing. In the 1930s the company joined with British dare-devil racer, Sir Malcolm Campbell, in his attempt to break the world land speed record. With a Rolex on his wrist, Campbell entered the history books by exceeding 300 miles (484 kilometers) per hour in his famous car, the “Bluebird”.
Campbell was the first official Rolex brand ambassador and he went on to break several more records at the Daytona, Florida racetrack, which gradually became the epicenter for race car driving in the U.S. The Rolex Daytona was released in 1963. It was later called the Cosmograph Daytona when it added a moon-phase complication. Substantially adding to the brand mystique, legendary movie star and race car driver, Paul Newman joined Rolex as a brand ambassador in the late 1960s. His Rolex Daytona ref. 6263 with black dial and white standard sub-dials was a gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward, when he started his race car driver career. He wore his Rolex Cosmograph Daytona both on and off the race-track and was rarely seen without it. The Paul Newman models made around 1967 are highly prized and fetch astronomical prices at auction.
One of the more interesting and lesser-known facts about the Rolex Daytona history is that it was (very) briefly called “Le Mans”, the name of the oldest and most prestigious race in Europe, and at the time, the world. It did not take long for the name to change as the status of both “Le Mans” and Europe was declining. Today, Rolex still sponsors Formula 1 racing on a global level and the company presents a trophy for every winner of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Review
The Rolex Daytona is a recognized icon in the world of luxury watches and, until recently, was only available after a wait of up to two years through authorized Rolex dealers. Both prized and revered by collectors, the Rolex Daytona can measure and calculate elapsed time and average speed via the chronograph and graduated tachymeter scale on the bezel. Technologically advanced, it can endure the rigors of car racing and other competitive sports with ease while maintaining its precision and reliability. Rolex included the Zenith El Primero movement in this watch in 1989 and in 2000 came the newly developed Rolex COSC certified caliber 4130 with a 72-hour power reserve. The watch features a center hour, minute and seconds hand and small seconds hand at 6 o’clock. Its chronograph is accurate to within 1/8th of a second and it has a 30 minute counter at 3 o’clock and 12 hour counter at 9 o’clock. It is water resistant to 100 meters and features a watertight Oyster case, Triplock crown, Cerachrom bezel, paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring and screw-in chronograph pushers.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Options
The Cosmograph Daytona is 44 mm in diameter and is available in 18-carat yellow, white or Everose gold, 904L stainless steel, steel and gold, and platinum. Its dial comes in black, steel, white or champagne set with diamonds. It is offered with either a precious metal combination bracelet, all gold or a black or brown leather bracelet for a sportier look. Check out the handsome 2013 anniversary edition watch which comes with an ice-blue dial and chestnut brown Cerachrom bezel.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Reference Numbers:
6239, 6240, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264, 6265, 16515, 16518, 16519, 16520, 16523,16528, 116505, 116509, 116515, 116518, 116519, 116520, 116523, 116528, 116589, 116598, 116599
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Pricing
Current retail (MSRP) of this line: starting at $11,250 for the SS version, TT models retail for $16,900 and gold models starts at $34,650.
Rolex Cosmograph NoteWorthy Facts
In 1965 the Daytona name finally appeared also on the dial. That same year Rolex introduced a new version with a new “exotic” dial featuring an outer track, matching sub-dials and sub-dials with cross hairs meeting in the center.
One of the rarest Daytonas ever produced is the reference 6240, a 37 mm waterproof chronograph with screw down push-pieces, metal bezel with black plastic insert and white numerals. It was made until 1969
- The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Albino” (named for its all white color) is one of only 3 existing examples. Its value is estimated between $500,000 to $1 million U.S.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona NoteWorthy owners
- Paul Newman
- Eric Clapton
If you are looking to expand your collection and buy a Rolex watch, it is important that you know how to spot a fake Rolex, and make sure that you buy a genuine certified watch.