“The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph has become the most cherished model in the entire collection line. But it did not start that way. In fact, when the Daytona was first launched back in 1960, it was a very lackluster sales performer for the Company and remained as such until the early 1980’s. Even the pre-owned Daytona watches were not highly collected or sought after as compared to other models like even the Rolex Bubble Backs. But things soon changed as the Italians started to become avid, serious collectors and prices world wide began to skyrocket. Used vintage Rolex Daytona models referenced 6238, 6239, 6240, 6241, 6262, 6263, 6264 and 6265 produced from 1961 to 1987 became very popular. Watches that were selling for $750 soon reached $6,500 and now sell for over $40,000! Some exotic models with the “Paul Newman” dials can sell for over $150,000 in gold, and $90,000 in steel. These models originally sold for about $150 new in the early 1960’s.” – Paul Altieri
The ultimate in luxury and class comes to mind when one thinks of a Rolex watch. Other apt descriptions of these one-of-a-kind timepieces are astonishing accuracy, consistent quality, and breathtaking beauty. These accolades, however, do not fully describe this revolutionary brand. Beyond its beauty, Rolex timepieces are crafted upon over a century of superior watch making. Rolex set the bar for innovative timekeeping, and no other company can meet the Rolex standard.
Founded in London, England in 1905, Rolex was the brainchild of German watchmaker Hans Wilsdorf. Wilsdorf had a monumental idea for the time: design and manufacture a wristwatch, which was something unpopular in the days of pocket watches. This, along with the wristwatch’s reputation for inaccuracy, made Wilsdorf’s idea hard to sell at first. Persistency paid off, however, and Wilsdorf, along with his business partner Alfred Davis, enlisted top Swiss watchmakers to come up with innovative technology designed to create not only an accurate, but also beautiful, wristwatch. The Rolex was born.
From the start, Wilsdorf and his Swiss watchmakers had been in pursuit of the timekeeping perfection known as “chronometric precision.” This term confirms that the quality of a timepiece’s movement and its timekeeping is as precise as possible. Rolex was the first wristwatch to be awarded the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision in 1910. The company moved its operations to Geneva, Switzerland in 1920; this was a logical step in the business’ growth, considering many of the watch’s mechanics were originally designed and manufactured by watchmakers in Bienne, Switzerland.
Today, Rolex maintains its reputation for chronometric precision and superior timekeeping, with which no other watchmaker in the world can compete. From his humble beginnings in 1905, Wilsdorf’s dream to manufacture quality wristwatches has grown beyond even his expectations. The modern-day Rolex company manufactures over 2,000 wristwatches per day and brings in a multi-billion dollar revenue on an annual basis.
Rolex Daytona Series
One of the more popular modern-day Rolex series is the Daytona series, which premiered in the 1960s. As its name suggests, the Daytona series is inspired and worn by racecar drivers, including legendary actor and race enthusiast Paul Newman. Newman reportedly wore his Daytona every day from 1972 until his death in 2008. The original Daytona series were manufactured from 1961 to 1987, and were initially less expensive than other models. Today, these original Daytona’s are considered the ultimate in collectible Rolex watches; many enthusiasts regard them as the “holy grail” of Rolex watch collecting.
Rolex unveiled a second Daytona series in 1988, and these were manufactured up until the year 2000. Much like the original Daytona series, the second series has also reached a cult-like status with Rolex fans, due, in large part, to the limited production of this particular model. Rolex is now manufacturing the third series of Daytona watches, and they remain collectible items regardless of their manufacturing age. The Daytona watch’s model number indicates the series within which it was originally manufactured. First series Daytona’s have four-digit model numbers; second series Daytona’s have five-digit numbers; and third series Daytona’s have six-digit numbers. All Daytona second and third series watches are self-winding chronographs.
Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel
Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel watches are encased in 40mm stainless steel, with a face – traditionally black or white – protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The Daytona Stainless Steel watches feature automatic movement, and are certified chronographs capable of keeping near-perfect time. The Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel series encase as many as 44 jewels, and the screw-down crown is waterproof. Two of the more popular Daytona Stainless Steel models are Model Number 16520 and Model Number 116520.
The Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel Model 16520 is a member of the second series of Daytona watches. Introduced in 1988, the 16520 is a self-winding Rolex based on Zenith Caliber 400 technology. They took Zenith’s technological model and refined it to the brand taste, including designing a watch with higher accuracy than the Zenith watch, and relaxing the beats per hour down from 36,000 to 28,800, thereby reducing the need for frequent maintenance on the timepiece.
The Daytona Model 16520 quickly became a collectible, as manufactured numbers were limited. In fact, Rolex won’t manufacture a new Daytona Stainless Steel watch for just any customer. In most cases, the watch must be special ordered and the customer must be a top Rolex consumer. As a result, the Daytona Model 16520 is a highly sought after collectible, and the watches have been known to auction for well over $10,000.
The Rolex Daytona Model 116520 is a member of the third series of Daytona watches. Manufactured since 2000, it boasts all of the same features as the 16520, with one grand exception. The Daytona Model 116520 relies 100% on pure Rolex technology. For the third generation in the Daytona Series, the company redesigned the watch, removing all previous Zenith modeling. The Model 116520 is also a prized possession amongst collectors, and fetches much the same price as its predecessor the 16520.
Rolex Daytona Two Tone
The Rolex Daytona Two Tone is another beauty in the Daytona series. It boasts models from the second and third production series, and the two-tone watches also auction at well over $10,000. Although the Rolex Daytona Two Tone models are also protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, feature automatic movement, are certified chronographs, and house as many 44 jewels, it is the gold inlay that sets these watches apart from their all stainless steel counterparts.
The Rolex Daytona Two Tone watch case is stainless steel with an 18-karat yellow gold tachymeter bezel. Its dial is also accented in the two-tone stainless/gold combination, as is the bracelet and clasp. The most popular second-generation Daytona Two Tone is Model Number 16523, which retails anywhere from approximately $9,000 to $15,000, depending on its condition. The third-generation Model Number 116523 retails in the approximate same price range and both generations are considered collectibles.
Rolex Daytona Gold
The Rolex Daytona Gold ups the ante in luxury by removing the stainless steel accents and presenting owners with an 18-karat gold tachymeter bezel, bracelet, and clasp. The Rolex Daytona Gold also features gold sub dials on the watch face. Second-generation models include Model Numbers 16509, 16518, and 16528. Model Number 16509 is crafted of white gold; Model Number 16518 boasts gold on the watch face and casing, but traditionally comes with a fine leather band; and Model Number 16528 is primarily crafted of yellow gold. Pricing on quality used second-generation Daytona Gold watches will run consumers upwards of $17,000 to $20,000.
Rolex Daytona Gold second-generation model styles are also popular favorites and sought-after Model Numbers include the 116509, 116518, and 116528. These models also use 100% Rolex technology and the styles amongst the third-generation watches are very similar to, or the same as, their second-generation models. Watch aficionados looking to own a brand new third-generation Daytona Gold will have a hefty price to pay, as retail pricing is set as high as $35,000. A good quality used Daytona Gold piece will cost a collector possibly half the going rate. Regardless, the Daytona Gold and all of the Daytona series have proven to be one of the most popular, most collectible, and most reliable series of watch wear.