A modern interpretation of a true industry classic, the Rolex Daytona platinum edition marks half a century of watchmaking history. Released in 2013 to mark the model’s 50th anniversary, the Rolex Daytona reference 116506 caused quite a stir among collectors upon its initial launch.
While the platinum Daytona met a lot of expectations (such as featuring a Cerachrom bezel and Rolex’s in-house Caliber 4130 chronograph movement), it also subverted them by making that ceramic bezel brown and crafting the entire watch and bracelet from the noblest of precious metals: solid 950 platinum.
Rolex Daytona Platinum Edition Reference 116506
Platinum Daytona 116506 Key Features
– Production Years: 2013 – Present
– Case Size: 40mm
– Materials: 950 Platinum
– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, 12-Hour Chronograph
– Dial: Ice Blue w/ Luminous or Diamond-Set Hour Markers
– Bezel: Fixed, Brown Ceramic w/ Tachymeter Scale
– Crystal: Sapphire (Flat)
– Movement: Rolex Caliber 4130
– Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet
– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet
About the Platinum Rolex Daytona
The Daytona International Speedway was opened in 1959 as the fastest racing circuit in the country, and it quickly became home to the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race in 1962. Rolex was also appointed the Official Timepiece of the Daytona International Speedway, and to highlight the strong link to the famous racetrack, the following year Rolex named its new racing chronograph the Cosmograph Daytona.
Released in 2013, the Rolex Daytona Platinum reference 116506 marked the model’s 50th anniversary. It was and continues to be, a hugely prized yet controversial model. However, as is often the case with controversies of this nature, the dispute surrounding the “appropriateness” of platinum – a noble metal – being used as the casing material of Rolex’s most famous sports chronograph only serves to deepen its appeal to those that find the pairing comfortable.
Upon its release, the model – which features a strangely rich colorway for a sports chronograph of ice blue and chestnut brown – caused a stir due to its perceived niche appeal. However, Rolex was entirely unflustered. How mainstream did an all-platinum chronograph costing tens of thousands of dollars need to be?
The kind of customer Rolex was targeting no doubt relished the obvious discernment required to own such an opinion-splitting timepiece. It is, in short, an example of true luxury. In fact, it might well be the most luxurious non-stone-encrusted watch the most well-known luxury watch brand has ever produced. In those terms, that stratospheric retail price starts to seem like a bargain…
A Platinum Stopwatch
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its legendary Daytona collection, Rolex had to create a piece worthy enough to commemorate the momentous occasion. And with the Cosmograph Daytona Platinum edition, they most certainly did. Full platinum construction, ice-blue dial, chestnut brown bezel – these are hardly the norm according to the existing Daytona design codes, yet it’s precisely the use of these elements that make the anniversary edition of the Daytona 116506 so special.
Opting for 950 platinum rather than gold or stainless steel to craft the 40mm Oyster case and bracelet of the Daytona 116506 signals from the starting line that this is a piece to be taken very seriously by avid Rolex collectors and enthusiasts. After all, an important celebration deserves the use of a metal synonymous with prestige, and platinum is often regarded as the most noble of all precious metals.
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.
Ice Blue and Chestnut Brown
The ice blue dial of the Rolex Daytona ref. 116506 cannot be missed. It is a cool and crisp visage that has a huge amount of character without sacrificing the class for which this iconic line of chronograph watches is known. For Rolex fans and those in the know, the use of an ice blue dial is a really 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 chestnut brown Cerachrom bezel matches the three sub-dials on the dial perfectly, while the iconic red “DAYTONA” logo is clearly legible above the small-seconds hands at 6 o’clock.
The combination of ice blue and brown is hardly an obvious pairing, yet the overall aesthetic of the platinum Daytona looks so natural that it is almost surprising that you do not see this color combination more often. The juxtaposition of the warm brown tone against the cool tones of platinum and ice blue is surprisingly harmonious and delivers an unforgettable look that sets this Daytona apart from all other watches.
At the time of its release, reference 116506 was only the third Rolex watch to be fitted with a Cerachrom bezel. Seeing this clearly high-tech material in such an unconventional color (let alone paired with an ice blue dial) sent shockwaves through an industry that simply wasn’t prepared for such a daring flourish from one of the industry’s most reputedly conservative and traditional brands.
The Rolex Ice Blue Dial
The ice blue backdrop is as serene as a remote glacial lake. Not even the addition of eleven diamonds cut in three different sizes studded around its perimeter can ruffle the feathers of Rolex’s ice blue dial. And just as you would expect from the top-of-the-line Daytona model crafted from solid platinum, a diamond-set dial is most certainly available as an option.
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.
The Rolex Daytona reference 116506 can either be purchased with its standard ice blue dial with classic lume-filled hour markers or the ultra-luxurious diamond-set dial that features small square diamonds for the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock markers; baguette-shaped diamonds for the 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 11 o’clock markers; and stubbier baguette diamonds at the 2 and 10 o’clock locations.
This even more luxurious edition dispenses with the chestnut brown rings and brings added luxury to the dial with diamond indices that replace the applied luminous markers. Amazingly, the ice blue color works so well with the flawless clear stones that it is almost possible to miss them entirely at first glance.
While the diamond-decorated dial is a crisp alternative and offers a degree of luxury that is seldom matched, 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 – and that’s the model that knocked people off their stools when it debuted at Baselworld 2013.
The Platinum Oyster Bracelet
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 that enables the wearer to instantly adjust the bracelet by 5mm to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.
The completely solid three-link platinum bracelet adds significant weight to the overall product and makes the platinum Daytona 116506 one of the heaviest Rolex watches ever created. As such, it offers the unmistakable feeling that you are wearing something of intense intrinsic value that is created with expert-level craftsmanship. Even compared to a solid gold watch, the platinum Rolex Daytona is surprisingly heavy and it offers a truly unique wrist presence that must be felt to be truly appreciated.
Upon closer inspection, the true beauty of its 950 platinum 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. Beyond the weight and its pale white luster, there is something inherently special and entirely ineffable about platinum; it is truly a noble material.
Platinum Daytona 116506 Movement
Despite its impressively ostentatious exterior, there is nothing but business beneath the hood of the platinum Rolex Daytona reference 116506. Hidden by a closed caseback as one would expect to find on a watch made by Rolex, the in-house Caliber 4130 beats away, keeping time in the face of virtually everything that the outside world can throw at it.
The self-winding Cal. 4130 mechanical chronograph boasts heightened reliability due to having fewer components than a standard chronograph movement. Featuring a column wheel and a vertical clutch, the Rolex Caliber 4130 also features the brand’s proprietary blue Parachrom hairspring that is impervious to magnetic fields and up to ten times more resistant to shocks and temperature fluctuations.
Since 1951, the vast majority of Rolex watches have all been COSC-certified, which means that they have passed the rigorous series of tests outlined by an independent movement testing facility in Switzerland that is regarded as the industry standard for excellent timekeepers. Six years later in 1957, Rolex upped the ante by including the word “Superlative” on the dial. This was meant to signify that Rolex’s movements were even better than COSC-certified timepieces and exceeded the parameters required for chronometer rating.
All platinum Rolex Daytona ref. 116506 watches are COSC-certified chronometers. However, since the initial launch of the platinum Daytona in 2013, Rolex has increased the requirements for what constitutes a “Superlative Chronometer” and subjects its movements to additional and more-stringent testing to ensure that all movements achieve an industry-leading timekeeping performance of -2/+2 seconds per day (after casing).
The Enduring legacy of the Platinum Rolex Daytona
Originally created for race car drivers and named after the world’s capital of speed, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona enjoys one of the most exciting histories among all the brand’s collections. While the Daytona was originally designed to help race car drivers keep track of lap times while at the track, the model has evolved over the years into one of the most universally recognizable and desirable watches in the entire world.
Despite being crafted from solid 950 platinum and featuring a striking ice blue dial with a chestnut brown ceramic bezel, the Rolex Daytona ref. 116506 features all of the same functionality as the other models from the brand’s contemporary chronograph lineup. Just like the more tool-oriented stainless steel models, the platinum Daytona features a chronometer-certified movement and 100 meters of water resistance, meaning that it is more than ready to stand up to the rigors of everyday wear and use.
Unapologetically luxurious and offering a unique color combination that is synonymous with Rolex’s premier offerings, the 50th-anniversary platinum Daytona 116506 has become an integral part of the saga of the brand’s legendary racing chronograph. Excluding the various off-catalog models that are encrusted in gemstones, the platinum Daytona is the most opulent execution of Rolex’s iconic chronograph, and if the significant price required to add one to your watch box doesn’t phase you, it is hard to think of better addition to any serious luxury watch collection.