In a surprising mid-year drop, Rolex announced a white gold Daytona created specifically for the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. With plenty of thoughtful features, such as a red “100” indication on the bezel, a Paul Newman-inspired dial, and a reworked movement to offer a 24-hour chronograph counter, the Rolex Daytona 126529 LN hits all the right notes. Keep reading for all the details about this unexpected precious metal 2023 Rolex Daytona release.
Model Number: 126529LN
Movement: Caliber 4132
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Case Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: 18k White Gold
Dial Color: Sunburst black with white snailed counters
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Le Mans Rolex Daytona Ceramic Release Date: June 2023
Reverse Panda Dial: A Paul Newman Tribute
The late Paul Newman accomplished many admirable things during his lifetime; he was one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors, a generous philanthropist, and an enthusiastic race car driver. Although he joined the sport later than most, Newman won four national championships as a driver and eight championships as an owner. During his entry in Le Mans in 1979, Newman finished first in his class and second overall.
Aside from all these gleaming accolades, watch enthusiasts will also tell you that Newman continues to have an unprecedented impact on the Rolex collecting space. Not only does he have an entire genre of vintage Rolex watches named after him – the vintage Daytona “Paul Newman” watches – but his personal Daytona “Paul Newman” watch holds the record as the most expensive Rolex ever sold, which fetched $17.8 million at auction in 2017.
Now Rolex is tipping its hat to Newman with this release as illustrated by the reverse Panda dial housed inside the Daytona 126529LN. The bright black sunray dial sets the perfect backdrop for the full white snailed counters. And if we take a closer look at those counters, the square tips on the hash-marks are a hallmark of vintage Paul Newman dials, also officially known as “exotic dials.” Rolex even refers to the influence by stating “The dial’s graphic design is inspired by a Rolex dial from the past.
To be clear, this is not a straight-up reissue of an old-school Rolex exotic dial, but rather a very subtle nod that those in the know will immediately recognize.
Special 4132 Movement
Staying on the dial for a moment, those who are familiar with all Rolex Daytona watches will notice that the sub-dial at 9 o’clock is designed to track 24 hours rather than the customary 12 hours. This was done in honor of the full-day duration of the Le Mans race and is possible because of the unique movement specifically developed for this anniversary edition. Inside the case is the Caliber 4132 chronograph movement, based on Caliber 4131 that Rolex debuted earlier this year, but reworked to double the number of hours the chronograph counter can measure. According to Rolex, the extended timer is possible because of a patented seven-component mechanism.
The back of this Rolex 2023 Daytona watch offers a view of that special 4132 column wheel and vertical clutch chronograph movement via a sapphire display caseback. This is only the second reference in the history of the Daytona to be furnished with an exhibition caseback – the first was the platinum Daytona 126506 launched in March 2023. Rolex will likely continue furnishing special edition Daytonas (and perhaps other models too) with exhibition casebacks in the future.
Like its predecessor, Caliber 4132 supplies the Daytona 126529 with 72 hours of power reserve and is fitted with the brand’s patented Chronergy escapement that combines high energy efficiency with reliability. In true Rolex fashion, the mechanics are no doubt solid; yet, it’s the decoration and finishing that differs from what we’ve come to expect from Rolex movements. From the Rolex Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges to the cut-out 18k gold oscillating weight, to be able to see a Rolex movement without opening the watch is refreshing – and something we could certainly get used to.
Despite the transparent caseback, like all modern Daytona watches, the Rolex 126529 is water-resistant to 100 meters (330 feet).
18k White Gold Case and Bracelet
For the 40mm case and Oyster bracelet of this particular 2023 Rolex Daytona model, the brand opted for 18k white gold, which like many other Rolex materials, is created in its own foundry. The use of precious metal rather than stainless steel underlines the exclusiveness of this Rolex Daytona release.
Rolex topped the white gold case with a black Cerachrom bezel, which has a red ceramic-filled “100” on the tachymeter scale as a tribute to the Le Mans’ centennial. Rolex has used red type to indicate special releases in the past; for example, there’s the vintage Red Submariner 1680, Double Red Sea-Dweller 1665, and 50th Anniversary Sea-Dweller 126600. However, this is the first red accent on the bezel, and it looks fantastic, especially since it matches the red Daytona inscription on the dial. Similar to all the latest-generation Daytona models, the ref. 126529LN includes a metal ring around its bezel, which in this instance is fashioned in white gold.
While other white gold Daytona watches with Cerachrom ceramic bezels are fitted with rubber Oysterflex bracelets, the Daytona 126529LN is paired with a more lavish (and expensive) 18k white gold Oyster bracelet, again emphasizing the prestige of the watch. The bracelet remains secure around the wrist with an Oysterlock folding clasp and provides a comfortable fit via the Easylink 5mm extension link. There are also ceramic inserts within the bracelet links for better durability and flexibility.
Pricing and Availability
At the time of release, the Rolex 126529LN Anniversary Edition has a retail price of $51,400 and is, in theory, available at select authorized retailers around the world. There’s no indication that this commemorative Daytona is a limited edition model or that it will only be produced this year.
However, it’s no secret that Rolex sports models are essentially impossible to buy from authorized retailers these days due to exceedingly high demand and so-called waitlists. It’s not a stretch to assume that the Daytona 126529 Le Mans Centenary model will be one of the most difficult Rolex watches to buy at retail. Accordingly, pre-owned Rolex Daytona 126529LN watches will certainly command high premiums on the secondary market.
Also see: Rolex Daytona Buying Guide.
The Daytona 126529 is the most expensive white gold Daytona in Rolex’s current regular-production catalog. This makes sense given its combination of a black Ceramic bezel, white gold case and bracelet, transparent caseback, unique movement, and never-before-seen details like the red “100” and modern interpretation of a Paul Newman dial.
What We Think
Rolex making a commemorative Cosmograph Daytona to celebrate the centenary of the Le Mans race is very fitting; after all, Rolex named its first batch of Cosmograph watches the “Le Mans” and not the “Daytona.” Now we’ve come full circle with the release of the Cosmograph Daytona Le Mans watch – perfectly timed to also celebrate the 60th anniversary of Rolex’s flagship chronograph.
In our opinion, Rolex absolutely nailed it with the release of the 2023 Rolex Daytona 126529LN. It has everything you’d want in a modern Daytona including its white gold case, black ceramic bezel, and most up-to-date movement, with the added benefit of a vintage-inspired dial and stand-out details like the red “100” and exhibition caseback.
We have zero doubts that the 126529LN will become one of the most in-demand 2023 Rolex Daytona watches, despite its high sticker price, not to mention what will most certainly be its even higher resale price.
The excitement around this release reminds us of when Rolex unveiled the very first steel and ceramic Daytona back in 2016. In fact, the look of this white gold version is similar to that steel variant, but arguably even better thanks to the Reverse Panda Paul Newman-esque dial, commemorative bezel, and open caseback design. The inquiries for the watch have already started to roll in, and the only question that remains is if Rolex will produce enough to meet demand.
2023 has proven to be quite the year for the Rolex Daytona. So far we’ve seen the latest generation of Daytona watches released in spring at Watches & Wonders 2023, and now, we have the Rolex 126529 joining the lineup.
And why not? 2023 marks the 60th anniversary of this world-famous chronograph watch and what better way to celebrate than with a bevy of Rolex Anniversary Daytona watches to wish for?