In addition to being Rolex’s most coveted watch, the Rolex 116509 Daytona is also the brand’s most diverse sports watch collection. The Rolex Daytona is available in a multitude of materials, such as steel, two-tone, platinum, and gold. Naturally, Rolex doesn’t just make the Daytona in one type of gold but in three different shades – including white gold, which is what we’re highlighting today. While Rolex has been making stainless steel and yellow gold Daytona chronographs since the collection’s inception in the early-1960s, white gold only became an option in the late-1990s. And it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that a white gold Daytona was offered with a bracelet instead of a leather strap.
The Reference 116509 is Rolex’s current 18k white gold Daytona variant, and there’s a lot to love about this ultra-luxurious chronograph. Not only is it the only Daytona fitted with a matching white gold Oyster bracelet but it also offers up plenty of superb dial options. Understated thanks to its white metal construction yet exceedingly luxurious since that white metal is 18k gold, keep reading for everything you need to know about the Daytona 116509. Welcome to our ultimate guide to the Rolex Daytona 116509.
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Rolex Daytona 116509
Daytona 116509 Key Features
- Case: 40mm with screw-down winding crown and screw-down chronograph pushers
- Case material: 18k white gold
- Bezel: Fixed 18k white gold, tachymeter engraved
- Dial Layout: Chronograph center hand and three sub-dials; small seconds hand at 6 o’clock, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Bracelet: 18k white gold Oyster Bracelet
- Caliber: 4130 automatic movement
- Water-Resistance: 100 meters
Brief Rolex Daytona History
The Daytona has roots firmly planted in the world of motorsport. In fact, the name “Daytona” was inspired by the famous Daytona speedway, of which Rolex was the official timekeeper. The collection features a Tachymeter scale and stopwatch functionality, complete with the Daytona’s iconic side pushers – perfect for timing race laps or calculating speed or distance traveled. Today, the Daytona is a fixture on the wrists of collectors of all professions and lifestyles and has countless everyday applications.
Several models preceded the Daytona as we know it today. Early examples of the Rolex Chronograph featured a smooth bezel and the Tachymeter scale surrounding the dial instead of engraved on the bezel. It wasn’t until 1963 that the Daytona’s iconic aesthetic began to take shape when ref. 6239 debuted and officially moved the Tachymeter scale to the bezel. The name “Daytona” didn’t immediately appear on the dial, either. Instead, the dial read “Cosmograph,” a moniker that remains a fixture on the Daytona dial, even today.
To condense the long and storied history of the Cosmograph Daytona in the most efficient way possible, there are three main generations of the Daytona to be aware of. First, there are the manual-winding variants with four-digit reference numbers that Rolex produced from 1963 until 1988. These are, as a group, the most collectible vintage Rolex watches in the market, made especially famous by Paul Newman (whose own vintage Daytona sold for a record-breaking $17.8 million).
Automatic Daytona Watches
The second Daytona generation appeared in 1988 as both larger watches (40mm instead of 37mm) and automatic. Rolex used a Zenith El-Primero base movement to power these five-digit Daytona models, but modified about 50% the movement and renamed it the Rolex Caliber 4030. This generation (nicknamed the Zenith Daytona) is where Rolex began offering more variety to the Daytona lineup including new material options like white gold. However, Rolex paired the white gold “Zenith” Daytona ref. 16519 with a leather strap rather than the customary Oyster bracelet.
The six-digit reference Daytona watches made their debut at Baselworld in 2000 where the previous Zenith El Primo movements were replaced with Rolex’s in-house Caliber 4130. The COSC-certified Caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement has several advantages including fewer components for improved reliability, the Parachrom hairspring for increased resistance to external elements, and 72 hours of power reserve. Shortly after the release of the first batch of Daytona watches with in-house movements, Rolex added the full white gold Daytona 116509 to the range in 2004, complete with a white gold Oyster bracelet.
Another notable upgrade made to the white gold Daytona model is the meteorite dial. While Rolex produced ref. 116509 with the coveted extraterrestrial dial in the past, 2021 debuted the dial alongside striking black sub-dials that somewhat resemble the iconic Daytona Panda dial. What’s fascinating about the Rolex meteorite dial is that it is genuine meteorite harvested from the famous Gibeon meteorite in Namibia, Africa. The material is then treated to reveal the unique striations.
Today, collectors have their choice of 4 standard dial color options: sunburst blue with sporty red accents within the sub-dials, black with glittering diamond hour markers, steel with contrasting black sub-dials, and meteorite with black sub-dials. The collection used to include shimmering Mother-of-Pearl and sporty “racing dials” decorated with older-style hour markers. However, those dial options have since been discontinued.
Rolex Daytona 116509 Timeline
- 1963: Rolex introduces the Cosmograph chronograph
- 1964: Rolex renames it the Cosmograph Daytona chronograph
- 1988: The modern automatic Daytona line (powered by Zenith El Primero-base movements) replaces the previous era of manual-winding Daytona
- 1997: Rolex introduces the first white gold Daytona model in the form of the ref. 16519 with a leather strap
- 2000: Rolex replaces the Daytona ref. 16519 with the white gold ref. 116519 (powered by in-house movement)
- 2004: Rolex introduces the first white gold Daytona with a white gold Oyster bracelet in the form of the ref. 116509
- 2016: Rolex offers the Daytona 116509 with a new sunburst blue dial option
- 2021: Rolex offers the Daytona 116509 with a new meteorite dial with black subdials
Rolex Daytona 116509 vs. 116519
Reference 116509 is not to be confused with ref. 116519, which both sport an impeccable white gold finish. While ref. 116509 is a full-gold model with a matching gold bracelet and bezel, ref. 116519 features a leather or Oysterflex bracelet and either a white gold or ceramic bezel, depending on the year the watch was produced. Rolex added Oysterflex to the white gold Daytona in 2017, effectively replacing the leather strap option.
The White Gold Daytona 116509
At first glance, unknowing onlookers may mistake the silvery metallic hue of the Daytona 116509 for stainless steel — yet, connoisseurs are well aware that this particular Daytona is crafted in 18k white gold. Always committed to using the finest materials, Rolex has an in-house foundry to ensure the perfect mixture of elements to produce the best gold possible.
The Daytona 116509 is unlike any other Daytona in the Rolex catalog. From the bezel down to the Oysterlock clasp, the entire exterior of this men’s sports watch is crafted from impeccable 18k white gold. While it still maintains a masculine and powerful fit on the wrist, this Daytona’s rare all-white-gold finish earns it a spot among some of the most luxurious timepieces in the Rolex catalog.
Part of the appeal of the Rolex Daytona is that it’s so familiar since its aesthetic has remained quite consistent throughout its history. The Daytona 116509 sports the characteristic 40mm Oyster case with the screw-down crown and screw-down pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock. Its sporty look is further enforced by the three-link Oyster bracelet, which is notably heavier than the stainless steel counterpart.
However, the bracelet is supremely comfortable thanks to the Easylink system allowing the wearer to extend the bracelet up to 5mm without tools. This feature is particularly attractive if you live in a humid area or if your wrist tends to fluctuate throughout the day. The ref. 116509 is topped with the tachymeter-engraved fixed bezel calibrated to 400 kilometers, which secures the scratch-proof sapphire crystal in place that serves to shield the dial.
When the sunburst blue dial variation of the ref. 116509 debuted at Basel World 2016, collectors were immediately impressed with the blue hue that was unique to this newer Daytona and seemed to blend flawlessly with the white gold finish of the case and bracelet. In 2021, Rolex added a new version of the meteorite dial (this time with black sub-dials and baton hour markers instead of silver sub-dials and Roman numerals) to the Daytona 116509 catalog.
Rolex has used several luminescent materials over the past several decades, including the controversial radium, Tritium, and even the current standard Super-LumiNova. However, in 2008, the company brought that aspect of production in-house by introducing Chromalight – an exclusive photoluminescent material. Today, all Rolex watches with a glowing display are furnished with Chromalight, including the Daytona 116509. The material is celebrated for its vibrant blue glow, instead of other materials that glow green. Chromalight also glows for up to 8 continuous hours. At the same time, it remains crisp white during the day.
Triplock Screw-Down Crown
The Daytona 116509 also boasts the distinction “Oyster” on its dial, which means it features a Rolex waterproof Oyster case. The case is outfitted with Rolex’s patented “Triplock” screw-down crown, complete with three waterproof zones. While the case is waterproof up to 100 meters/330 feet, it’s also impervious to the extreme temperature variations one might experience while professional racecar driving. Together with the Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, the Daytona can keep near-perfect time during almost any activity.
Rolex Daytona 116509 Pricing and Collectability
Retail prices for Rolex Daytona 116509 watches start at $41,600 for the silver and blue dial variants. The diamond-set dial Daytona 116509 is priced at $43,600, while the new meteorite dial carries a hefty $46,000 price tag.
Retail prices for Rolex Daytona 116509 watches start at $39,350 for the silver dial and blue dial variants. The diamond-set dial Daytona 116509 is priced at $41,300 while the new meteorite dial carries a hefty $43,700 price tag.
However, anyone who has looked at the secondary market recently understands that Rolex watches boast incredible resale value. And the story is no different for pre-owned white gold Daytona 116509. Older discontinued dial variants—such as the “racing dials” with Roman and Arabic numerals start well above $40,000, while the collectible Rolex 116509 meteorite dial model is currently valued at around $60,000
As such, purchasing a white gold Rolex Daytona 116509 can be a worthy investment. Not only does the white gold finish add serious value to your watch box, but the Daytona chronograph’s design is also downright legendary.
From the 116509’s impeccable silhouette fashioned from precious metal to the supreme engine revving within, a white gold Daytona is a watch that radiates cool confidence. With Rolex constantly upgrading all of their pillar models, and with the Daytona’s 60th anniversary on the horizon, it will be exciting to see which upgrades the Big Crown makes to the famous chronograph next.