Rolex Daytona Watch: Iconic Timepiece – History and Collection 2023

Rolex Daytona Watch: Iconic Timepiece – History and Collection 2023

The Rolex Daytona watch, an iconic timepiece, has made a lasting impression in the world of horology. The Cosmograph model is the most sought-after timepiece in history, having set a new record in a memorable auction in 2017. The iconic model celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2023, a testament to its enduring appeal.

Rolex Daytona Watch: The Absolute Model – Cosmograph Of Paul Newman

Rolex has long been associated with sporting excellence, and the Daytona circuit, destined for greatness, lends its name to one of the most sought-after watches in history. The Rolex Oyster undoubtedly, but a very special one.

The Daytona Circuit And The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph

The Daytona Beach circuit in Florida was first inaugurated in 1904. Automobiles were in their infancy, but already a wild race was being held on the sands of Daytona Beach. Here, between 1904 and 1935, a legend was born.

Once again, the brand contributes to this legacy. Among the 14 world speed records set, 5 were established by Sir Malcolm Campbell. His most significant achievement, driving his famous Bluebird, reached 276 mph (445 km/h). What was he wearing on his wrist? A Rolex Oyster, stamped with the crown logo.

Already closely linked to F1, Rolex became the official timekeeper of the motor racing circuit in 1959. However, a change occurred. The race was no longer held on the Daytona Beach course but on a new super-circuit called the Daytona International Speedway.

Wherever Rolex goes, horological excellence is never far behind… To celebrate this new partnership, Rolex produced a watch that was second to none. The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph ref. 6239 was created to be the ultimate measuring instrument.

The Daytona is therefore robust, made of steel, waterproof, and its tachymeter scale on the dial allows for reading the average speed. A watch designed in echo to the endurance of the runners of this race… And among these pilots from all horizons, a certain Newman…

The Daytona Of The Iconic Hollywood Actor

The same year the legendary Porsche 911 was produced, the house put the Daytona watch on the market. The famous actor Paul Newman loved both. But it is his Rolex that entered history.

This story takes place in 1969. The most iconic actor of his generation discovers the pleasure of speed as he embodies the driver Frank Capua. He learns to drive and, unexpectedly, is taken by the passion of the steering wheel

In the same year, his wife, the actress Joanne Woodward, gave him a Daytona Cosmograph. However, still shaken by the motorcycle accident he had that same year in 1969, she had an inscription engraved on the back of the watch: “Drive Carefully Me”.

To ward off bad luck, he never took off his watch. In the 1980s, the timepiece was nicknamed the “Oyster Paul Newman”. Yet, that same year, it disappeared without a trace…

Rolex Daytona, References, and a Historic Auction

Although the Daytona watch is an icon, not all references are as sought after as the 6263.

The Reference 6263. The Move to Automatic.

Produced between 1971 and 1987, the Rolex Daytona Reference 6263 is the most sought-after, firstly because it precedes the shift to automatic winding. Secondly, and most importantly, it is the reference that comes with screw-down pushers. These pushers have only undergone three evolutions, all bearing the mythical crown signature.

Powered by the caliber 727, the 6263 reference also comes in materials favored by the watchmaker, including steel, 18K gold, and 14K gold. These materials promote the resilience of these sublime and, above all, high-performance watches!

But in 1987, the maison innovated once again, bringing its icon into the era of automatic winding. The Daytona is now equipped with the Zenith El Primero movement.

This new automatic movement is powered by a ref. 4030 caliber. Derived from the Zenith 400 El Primero, it gave the watch the nickname Daytona Zenith. With the modified movement, the watch increases its power reserve from 42 hours to 52 hours.

Now, the tachymetric bezel is cut in steel or precious metal, and the famous inverted 6, highly sought after by collectors, is featured. This was enough to create a colossal craze. The fascination remains intact, and this new version of the Rolex Daytona obliged the house to set up waiting lists, starting from 1987.

In 2017, the Rolex Sale for $18 million


The Rolex Daytona worn by Paul Newman was thought to be lost until a charity auction was organized in late 2017 in New York. It was Paul Newman’s daughter herself who revealed the secret of its disappearance.

One day, her father gave the watch to his then-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, James Cox. “Dad would go visit James and see the progress on his car,” she says. “When he asked him what time it was, because he apparently forgot to wind his watch that morning, James said he didn’t know the time and he didn’t own a watch. Dad gave him his watch, saying ‘if you remember to wind it, it tells pretty good time.'”

In October 2017, the Rolex Oyster Paul Newman broke the record of the century – after 12 minutes of bidding and counter-bidding by phone, the exceptional timepiece was sold for nearly $18 million.

The Characteristics of the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph

The Rolex Daytona is an icon in the Rolex repertoire, and two of its countless characteristics make it a favored watch among adventurers and men of action.

The Daytona still celebrates today the historical links between Rolex and the feats of humanity, particularly in motorsport, as the world of Formula 1 has adopted it as a Global Partner and Official Watch.

The Movement 4130 of the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph

The Cosmograph Daytona is equipped with the 4130 movement, a self-winding mechanical chronograph developed and manufactured by the brand, and another technical revolution for the house.

Due to its architecture, it has fewer components than a standard chronograph, improving the watch’s reliability. Moreover, the resulting space savings allowed for the enlargement of the barrel spring, increasing the power reserve of the caliber 4130 to 72 hours.

The performance of the 4130 movement is undeniably linked to the adoption of a vertical clutch, rather than a lateral one, to engage the steel chronograph.

The Cerachrom Bezel

Manufactured in Switzerland, like many watchmaking icons, the Cosmograph Daytona shines with a rare elegance.

In some versions, its monobloc high-tech ceramic bezel offers advantages in addition to its beauty. Its hardness makes its steel practically scratch-resistant, and despite corrosion and UV rays, its color will never fade. This ensures the passage of this Daytona icon from generation to generation!

The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph in steel is available here for €13,700.

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