The Rolex Daytona Platinum reference 116506 was unveiled seven years ago in 2013 to mark the model’s 50th anniversary. To say it caused a stir upon its launch is perhaps something of an understatement.
While the platinum Rolex Daytona met a lot of expectations (such as being fitted with a Cerachrom bezel and being made from a precious metal) it also subverted them (by making that bezel brown and the precious metal of choice being platinum). An ice blue dial that we’ve seen in platinum models before (memorably deployed on the Rolex Day-Date II) round-out a watch that is every bit the luxury love-letter to an adored sports timer from the brand’s history.
When this model was released, it was just the third Rolex Daytona to feature a Cerachrom bezel. Two years prior, a pair of Everose models (one with a chocolate dial, the other with an ivory display) had debuted the now-commonplace component. Despite seeing Cerachrom Daytona bezels as early as 2011 and then again on this 2013 platinum release, a ceramic bezel didn’t become a standard part of the Daytona’s configuration until 2016. Nowadays, it is an indispensable element of the modern Rolex Daytona’s character.
An Impeccable Dial
The Platinum Daytona was released to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the collection.
However impressive the material was, nothing could have prepared Rolex lovers for this version’s color! A warm, rich, chestnut brown harmonizing so elegantly with the icy blue cool of the dial was an aesthetic that moved this model as far away from the racetrack as it has ever been in its long and storied history. That history began in 1959, when the dusty Daytona International Speedway, known as the fastest racing circuit in North America, first opened for business.
More Than a Movie Star
The platinum ref. 116506 features a Cerachrom ceramic bezel in a rich chestnut brown color.
- Model: Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona 116506
Case Size: 40MM
Water-Resistance: 100 Meters/ 330 feet
Movement: Perpetual Automatic 4130 Movement
Water-Resistance: 100 Meters/ 330 feet
Power Reserve: Around 72 hours
Crystal: Sapphire Crystal (Scratch Resistant)
Dial: Ice Blue with Chestnut Brown Sub Dials
Dial function: Start and Stop Function for accurate timing within 1/8 of a second.
30-minute timer at the 3 o’clock
12-hour counter at 9 o’clock position.
Bezel: Chestnut Brown bezel with a tachymetric scale inscribed in Platinum
Bracelet: Three piece Oyster Link crafted out of Platinum
Clasp: Rolex safety Clasp with adjustable 5mm extension link made of Platinum.
Read our history of the Rolex Daytona here
The Daytona track soon became the home of the prestigious “Rolex 24 At Daytona” endurance race ten years later. Unsurprisingly, that led to Rolex being appointed the Official Timepiece of the Daytona International Speedway. The following year in 1963, Rolex released a new chronograph. In honor of its partnership with the race track, that new model was named the Cosmograph Daytona.
Throughout its 50-year history running up to the release of the ice blue-dialed, Rolex Daytona Platinum, the model became one of the most sought-after status symbols the world has ever seen. Its indelible association with high-flying movie stars and daring, devil-may-care pastimes made it a firm favorite. The cocktail of cultural moods that buoyed the model’s popularity will never be seen again. As such, the Rolex Daytona now occupies a pedestal that has never seemed less accessible.
Yet, despite this reputation for glamor, the Daytona’s origins are far humbler. It was created to do a job, not to recline on the poolside wrist of some wealthy Hollywood bachelor. And so, at the core of this very desirable luxury product, there is a rather down-to-earth racing timer. Furthermore, its ability to do the job for which it was created has never been in doubt, and in its current incarnation, the Rolex Daytona is arguably more capable than ever before.
Built for Action
Ice blue dials are exclusively reserved for platinum Rolex watches.
The stainless steel antecedents of the ref. 116506 would probably have been surprised at the legacy they would go on to carve for themselves if you’d told them about it in the 1960s. Back then, watches had yet to achieve luxury status – they were simply tools. They were worn (mostly) by men for extremely practical reasons. By the time the decade of the Daytona’s birth was done, the Omega Speedmaster chronograph would visit the moon, the faithful companion of astronauts for whom it had been tested beyond all limits.
The Rolex Daytona, while neither submitted nor selected for Space flight, is just as mechanically capable as its equally long-lived rival from Omega. And while the Speedmaster may well be better suited to life beyond the stratosphere (thanks, in part, to the Hesalite crystal that was able to “bend not break” when exposed to potentially devastating space dust), the Daytona is designed to function optimally back on terra firma.
To its credit, and daily practicality, the Rolex Daytona is an automatic chronograph. T reference 116506 is driven by in-house Rolex Caliber 4130. This movement was created at the turn of the 21st century. As one would expect given Rolex’s long history of creating automatic (or “Perpetual”) movements, the engine under the hood of the world’s most famous racing chronograph is of the self-winding variety.
A Modern Movement
Despite being made of solid 950 platinum, the ref. 116506 retains all the functionality of the standard Rolex Daytona.
To improve the reliability of the Caliber 4130, Rolex designed it to use fewer components than a traditional automatic chronograph movement. With fewer parts, less can go wrong. Better still, those parts have been specially created to function optimally in a modern environment.
One thing previous generations did not have to contend with quite so frequently were magnetic fields. Nowadays, they are absolutely everywhere. Your phone emits a magnetic field. Laptops give off the same emission. Machinery, airport security scanners, medical equipment, even helicopters (if you happen to hang around helicopters/landing pads for fun) emit magnetic fields. As such, it has never been more important for a mechanical wristwatch to be protected against these potentially disruptive forces.
The Rolex Caliber 4130 movement is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring. This component is entirely impervious to magnetic fields and up to ten times more resistant to shocks than traditional hairsprings. Furthermore, the Cal. 4130 is submitted to Rolex’s rigorous in-house training procedure so that it can be designated as a Superlative Chronometer.
Read our History of the Rolex Daytona Movement Here
If you’ve never looked into what goes on during Chronometer testing, it’s fascinating stuff. These tiny mechanical marvels are put through their paces in multiple positions and temperatures, and then tested over days to ensure that they are holding and accumulating their charge correctly while keeping excellent time (COSC standards alone demand an average performance of -4/+6 seconds per day).
You might have seen the term “certified chronometer” on other timepieces. That is an excellent standard, normally awarded by COSC (an independent testing institution in Switzerland). But for Rolex watches – especially a kingly model like the platinum Daytona 116506 – that alone is not enough.
The ice blue dial of the platinum Rolex Daytona features brown chronograph rings that perfectly match its brown ceramic bezel.
Every single chronometer-certified watch that has left Rolex’s facilities since 1951 has been certified by COSC. But starting in 1957, the word “Superlative” crept onto the dial. This was added to indicate that Rolex watches did not just meet chronometer standards but actually exceeded them. To reach this standard, Rolex submits its COSC-certified movements, now cased, to a series of further tests. This is to ensure they are able to perform in the real world rather than just in the safe and sterile conditions of a lab.
Exactly what Rolex does to these watches after receiving the certified movements back from COSC and casing them up has never been made entirely clear. However, given the majority of Rolex’s operations are shrouded in secrecy, this should neither be surprising nor suspicious.
Over time, Rolex’s in-house testing procedures have become more and more extensive. In 2015, Rolex updated its criteria for the ‘Superlative Chronometer’ designation. Interestingly, as is not often the way for major luxury watch brands, Rolex did this without too much fanfare. Followers of the brand, however, certainly picked up on it and appreciated the hike in accuracy standards.
Despite the fact, the platinum Daytona reference 116506 came out two years before the latest adjustment to Superlative Chronometer standards, the Caliber 4130 that beats away inside that solid 950 platinum case is a very worthy mechanism indeed. Were it not, it would not have been charged with maintaining the reputation of the world’s most iconic motor racing associated chronograph, let alone an ultra-premium rendition of it.
Ice, Ice, Baby
The ice blue dial of the Rolex Daytona ref. 116506 cannot be missed. It is a cool, crisp visage that has a huge amount of character without sacrificing the class for which the family is known. For those in the know, the use of the ice blue dial is a big deal.
This specific color is reserved exclusively for platinum Rolex models and is not used on any other of the brand’s watches. It serves as a subtle sign to fellow collectors and enthusiasts that the watches it graces are constructed from solid 950 platinum.
The reference 116506 released for the Rolex Daytona’s 50th anniversary has chestnut-brown rings surrounding the three sub-dials. However, there is another version of the watch with a different dial configuration that goes by the same reference number. And this model actually features an even icier display.
This even more luxurious edition dispenses with the chestnut brown rings and brings added luxury to the dial with baguette diamond indices that replace the applied luminous markers. Amazingly, however, the ice blue color works so well with the clear precious stones that it is almost possible to miss them entirely at first glance.
A Diamond Delight
The Rolex Daytona Platinum is at the top of the wish lists of many collectors.
The ice blue backdrop is as serene as a remote glacial lake. Not even the addition of eleven diamonds cut in three sizes studded around its perimeter can ruffle its feathers. On the reference 116506 Daytona from 2018, small square diamonds are used for the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock markers. Baguette-shaped diamonds are employed for the 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 11 o’clock markers.
Additionally, stubbier baguette diamonds mark 2 and 10 o’clock. These two indices are somewhat truncated due to the hour- and minute-counter sub-registers sitting slightly above the horizontal axis of the Cal. 4130 movement (probably the most immediate visual distinguisher between this caliber and its predecessor).
While the diamond-decorated dial is a crisp alternative, it’s hard to look past the harmonious chestnut brown and ice blue of the 2013 iteration. That’s the model with all the history attached to it. That’s the model that knocked people off their stools when it debuted at Baselworld. And that’s the one you could most imagine strapped to the wrist of the legendary racers that have donned this model in the past.
The Rolex Oyster bracelet
The Rolex Daytona ref. 116506 is fitted with a matching Oyster bracelet crafted from solid platinum.
Affixing this modern masterpiece to the wrist is a solid platinum Oyster bracelet fitted with the brand’s Oysterlock safety clasp. This model also boasts the patented Rolex Easylink extension system. This enables the wearer to instantly adjust the bracelet by 5mm to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.
The solid-link Platinum bracelet adds significant weight to the overall product. As such, it really feels like you’re wearing something of intense value. Upon close inspection, the true beauty of platinum (along with the impressiveness of the sheer amount of the stuff used to create this commemorative timepiece) comes to the forefront. There is a strength that radiates from the metal that gives it a completely different character from steel or white gold. It is truly something special – platinum is truly a noble material.