The Daytona made its debut in 1963 & was made popular by actor & racing enthusiast Paul Newman, whose own 6239 sold at auction recently for $17.8m. Featuring a tachymetric scale, 40mm case size, & wide variety of metal options, the Cosmograph Daytona is a highly sought-after chronograph, both new & used. As of 2020, the current retail price for the new 116500 is $13,150. Click here to shop our entire stock of pre-owned Rolex watches for sale.
The Rolex Daytona collection was first introduced in 1963; however the history of automobile racing in Daytona Beach, Florida dates all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. With 14 world land speed records set there between 1904 and 1935, the very first stock car races taking place in 1936, and the very first Daytona 500 race in 1959, the name "Daytona" has been synonymous with racing and speed for over a hundred years.
Since the early 1960s, Rolex has been the official timekeeper of the Daytona International Speedway, which has been home to the annual 24 Hours of Daytona (known now as the Rolex 24 at Daytona) and Daytona 500 races, along with a number of other high-profile automotive racing events each year. To celebrate their sponsorship of the sport and their long-standing partnership with the world of automotive racing, the iconic Swiss timepiece manufacturer has developed a collection of purpose-built racing chronographs named after the legendary racing capital located on the shores of Florida: the Rolex Daytona.
As of April 7, Rolex has released new Rolex Daytona watches in their official new Rolex 2021 announcement.
1903 to 1935 - Daytona Florida becomes known as World Capital of Speed. 1935 - British driver and Rolex Oyster wearer Malcolm Campbell breaks 300 MPH speed barrier at Utah Salt Flats. 1959 - First Daytona International Speedway Race officially opens. 1962 - Rolex becomes Official timekeeper of Daytona International Speedway; first Rolex 24 At Daytona race. 1963 - First Rolex 6239 introduced. 1964 - The word "Daytona" is added below 12 o'clock on the dial. 1965 - Rolex 6240 introduced which includes "Oyster" features. 1967 - The word "Daytona" moved above 6 o'clock on the dial. 1988 - Second series of self-winding watches is introduced. 2000 - Third series introduced 2013 Formula 1 racing.
First introduced in 1963, the Rolex Daytona has been linked with many famous celebrities such as Jay-Z and John Mayer, who both own a number of different Daytona references. As the Submariner conquered the deep sea, so the Rolex Daytona did on land. Designed for professional racers, it features a precision chronograph and tachometer bezel which allow accurate measurement of land speeds of up to 400 miles per hour. The model symbolizes Rolex's historical ties to the world of motorsports.
Throughout its 50+ year history, the model has undergone some significant changes. When it first made its debut it was significantly smaller, coming in under 38mm and it featured a hand-wound manual movement. Today, the new models feature an in-house automatic movement, sporty ceramic bezel, and have cases that measure in at 40mm.
Like other models created by Rolex back then, this watch too was originally designed as a tool watch - made for racing drivers and motorsports enthusiasts to accurately keep time while at the racetrack. Although the model was first introduced in 1963, it was not the company's first chronograph, and originally these early Rolex Daytona watches did not even have the 'Daytona' name printed on their dials.
Rolex had been manufacturing chronograph wristwatches for decades prior; however it was not until the introduction of the first Cosmograph Daytona (the reference 6239) in 1963 that the Crown's legendary chronograph would start to take its contemporary form. This reference moved the tachymetric scale from the periphery of the dial to the bezel of the watch - a trait that still defines the watch produced today. Over the years, the model has gone through a number of changes and updates, transitioning from a 37mm manual-wind precision watch to a state-of-the-art chronograph with a 40mm case diameter and an in-house self-winding mechanical movement.
The Rolex Daytona still remains a part of the brand's catalog today, and is arguably one of the most famous and desirable watches that Rolex has ever created. Although the collection was originally developed to be a professional timing tool for drivers to use at the race track, the collection has expanded over the years to include a variety of different models crafted from precious metals, with some that are even encrusted in diamonds and other gemstones.
There are three main generations of these watches, into which all of the various references can be categorized.
The first generation (four-digit reference numbers) was produced between 1963 and 1988, and consists of the references:Ref. 6239 (Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow gold) Ref. 6241 (Steel, Acrylic Bezel. 14k, 18k Yellow gold) Ref. 6240 (Steel, Acrylic Bezel. 14k, 18k Yellow gold) Ref. 6262 (Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow gold) Ref. 6264 (Steel, Acrylic Bezel. 14k, 18k Yellow gold) Ref. 6263 (Steel, Acrylic Bezel. 14k, 18k Yellow gold) Ref. 6265 (Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow gold) Ref. 6269 (18k Yellow gold, Brilliant-Cut Diamond Bezel) Ref. 6270 (18k Yellow gold, Baguette-Cut Diamond Bezel)
These reference models have 37mm cases, manual-wind Valjoux movements, and acrylic crystals. It was during the first generation that advancements like screw-down pushers, which significantly improved the overall reliability and waterproofness.
The second-generation (five-digit reference numbers), nicknamed the "Zenith Daytona" was in production between 1988 and 2000, and consists of the references:
Ref. 16520 (Steel)
Ref. 16523 (Yellow Rolesor)
Ref. 16528 (Yellow Gold)
Ref. 16518 (Yellow Gold, Leather Strap)
Ref. 16519 (White Gold, Leather Strap)
The case diameter for the second generation of the model grew to 40mm, and the acrylic crystal was replaced by one made from synthetic sapphire. While the external updates are certainly significant, the biggest change to accompany the second generation of the watch was the arrival of a self-winding movement, turning the watch into the "Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona."
The third generation (six-digit reference numbers) was first introduced in 2000, and still remains in production to this day.
The current references are:
Ref. 116500 (Steel, Cerachrom Bezel)
Ref. 116503 (Yellow Rolesor)
Ref. 116515 (Everose Gold, Cerachrom Bezel, Oysterflex Strap)
Ref. 116505 (Everose Gold)
Ref. 116508 (Yellow Gold)
Ref. 116518 (Yellow Gold, Cerachrom Bezel, Oysterflex Strap)
Ref. 116519 (White Gold, Cerachrom Bezel, Oysterflex Strap)
Ref. 116509 (White Gold)
Ref. 116506 (Platinum, Cerachrom Bezel)
While previous generations are powered by modified Valjoux or Zenith movements, the third generation is characterized by the use of Rolex's in-house chronograph movement, the Cal. 4130, and retains many of the same core design traits which were first introduced with the second generation.
Retail prices for Rolex Daytona watches start at $13,150 for the stainless steel and ceramic model (the ref. 116500) and increase from there, depending on the use of precious metals or gemstones. The most expensive Rolex Daytona models are vintage references, and virtually all vintage Daytona watches will sell for significantly more than the price of a brand-new Daytona. The most expensive Rolex Daytona ever sold is Paul Newman's very own ref. 6239, which sold for a record-breaking $17.75 million at an auction in 2017.
Due to the vast range of differences to be found on Rolex Daytona watches, prices can differ significantly. The overwhelming demand for these iconic chronographs means Rolex Daytona used prices can be almost twice as much as retail prices, with values for vintage models reaching well into the six-figure range.
Additionally, due to the huge variety of different metals, gemstones, and most importantly - the varying degrees of collectability among the references, the Rolex Daytona price range can span hundreds of thousands of dollars, with certain examples reaching into the millions. Current prices for vintage Daytona ref. 6263 models have risen dramatically with some selling for as high as $85,000 USD, and the reference 6265 at about $50,000 USD.
|Model||Retail Price||Second-Hand Price||Materials||Features|
|Paul Newman's Daytona, Ref. 6239||N/A||17.75 million dollars||Stainless Steel||Most expensive Rolex Daytona|
|Ref. 116500LN||13,150 USD||from $23,500||Stainless Steel||Ceramic bezel|
|Ref. 116503||17,400 USD||from $18,000||Stainless Steel + Gold||Two-Tone|
|Ref. 116508||36,650 USD||from $33,950||Yellow Gold||Gold bezel and Oyster bracelet|
|Ref. 116509||39,350 USD||from $26,995||White Gold||Gold bezel and Oyster bracelet|
|Ref. 116505||45,600 USD||from $36,500||Everose Gold||Diamond dial|
|Ref. 116519LN||29,700 USD||from $29,900||White Gold||Ceramic bezel and Oysterflex bracelet|
|Ref. 116518LN||28,500 USD||from $28,495||Yellow Gold||Ceramic bezel and Oysterflex bracelet|
|Ref. 116506||75,000 USD||from $68,995||Platimnum||Ice Blue dial and brown ceramic bezel|
The retail price for a brand-new stainless steel Daytona is $13,150; however, due to an overwhelming demand and a relatively limited supply, these same watches trade hands for almost twice their retail price on the open market. Prices for the previous generation of stainless steel Daytona watches start out at roughly $15k when purchased used, and (generally speaking) vintage Daytona models are the most expensive due to their high levels of collectability.
Gold and platinum Rolex Daytona watches are some of the most expensive models in the brand's entire catalog. Retail prices for solid gold Daytona watches start out at $28,500 for the yellow gold model with a ceramic bezel on a rubber Oysterflex bracelet and increase from there. Both White gold and Everose gold cost more than traditional 18k yellow gold, and platinum models are the most expensive, with retail prices sitting in the neighborhood of approximately $75,000.HOW MUCH DOES A RARE PRE-DAYTONA COST?
Rolex produced chronograph watches before the release of the Daytona, and some of these models are known as Pre-Daytona watches. Prices for Pre-Daytona models start out at roughly $30,000 but it is not uncommon for rare references in exceptional condition to sell for well over $100,000. As these watches are all vintage models, the price can range dramatically depending on factors such as the specific reference, the materials of its construction, and most importantly, its overall condition.
Watches found in this collection display the hours, minutes, and seconds; however there has never been a Daytona reference that has featured either a day or date complication. Additionally, regardless of the specific generation, they are all sports chronographs with two pushers flanking the winding crown, three registers on their dials, and tachymeter scales on their bezels. A chronograph complication is used to measure elapsed time, and when its centrally-mounted seconds hand is used in conjunction with the tachymetric scale on the watches bezel, wearers can use their watch to measure speeds up to 400 units per hour.
Since its initial release in 1963, the Rolex Daytona has always been available in a variety of different materials. The very first reference was produced in high-quality stainless steel, 14k gold, and 18k gold, and since its introduction, the list of options has only expanded from there. The second generation introduced Rolesor (two-tone, stainless steel and gold) to the collection, and the third generation expanded to further include platinum and Everose gold models.
Today, the model is manufactured in 904L stainless steel (with ceramic bezel), yellow Rolesor (stainless steel and 18k yellow gold), solid 18k gold (yellow gold, white gold, and Everose pink gold), and 950 platinum (with ceramic bezel). Additionally, while most models are sold on matching Oyster bracelets (either stainless steel, two-tone, solid gold, or platinum), certain solid 18k gold references are fitted with either alligator leather straps or Oysterflex bracelets with matching 18k gold folding clasps.
Throughout the last 50 years of the Daytona's production, Rolex has fitted a wide variety of different dials to their iconic chronograph collection, with the majority appearing on their various precious metal models.
The first generation of this model was most commonly fitted with either white, black, silver, or champagne (gold) colored dials. Most frequently the sub-dials were rendered in a contrasting color - a black dial with white sub-dials, or a silver/white dial with black sub-dials - which has resulted in the "panda dial" and "reverse panda dial" nicknames among modern collectors. However, a small handful of vintage references received all silver dials, earning them the "Albino Daytona" nickname.
Additionally, during production of the first generation of watches, a small number were fitted with "Exotic" dials that featured a stepped minute track in a contrasting color, and an Art Deco style font for the numerals in its sub-dials. Famous Hollywood actor, Paul Newman owned one of these exotic dial watches, and after being photographed for a magazine cover wearing one, they started to rise in value and popularity, picking up the nickname the “Paul Newman Dial” among vintage collectors. Although these exotic Paul Newman dials were initially rather unpopular upon their release, they are now one of the most valuable and highly coveted timepieces in the entire luxury watch industry, with Paul Newman's very own "Paul Newman Daytona" selling for $17.8 million dollars at an auction in 2017.
Since the arrival of the second generation, stainless steel models have only been available with either black or white dials. Although dial options for stainless steel watches are relatively minimal, there exists near-countless options for dials when it comes to the various precious metal references. Among the dial colors that can be found on two-tone, solid gold, and platinum models are silver, champagne, blue, green, chocolate brown, pink, and ice blue - plus all of the various stone/material dials like lapis lazuli, meteorite, and mother-of-pearl. Additionally, the style of hour markers can vary on some of these more elaborate dials, and in addition to the classic stick indexes, Rolex hour markers can include Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, Hindu-Arabic numerals, diamonds, and even rainbow-colored sapphires.
The Rolex Daytona's bezel always has a tachymeter scale on it; but, like the rest of the models, the material used for the bezel has changed throughout the years. The very first ref. 6239 references were fitted with metal (stainless steel or gold) bezels which had their tachymeter scales engraved into them. However, shortly after their introduction, the inaugural model was joined by a near-identical sister reference that swapped out the metal bezel for one made from black acrylic. Both metal and acrylic bezels were fitted to watches throughout the vast majority of the production of the first generation, and it was not until the second generation that the black acrylic bezel was phased out completely.
Metal tachymeter bezels were the only option for watches during production of the second generation; however for the third generation of watches, specifically for the 50th anniversary in 2013, Rolex unveiled a solid platinum version that featured a chocolate brown, monobloc ceramic bezel made from a proprietary material called Cerachrom, which is highly resistant to scratching and fading. Three years later, Rolex introduced a new variant of the stainless steel Daytona, the reference 116500, which swapped out its stainless steel bezel for an extra durable one made from the same corrosion-resistant ceramic - this time in black Cerachrom rather than chocolate brown.
Since phasing out the stainless steel bezel in 2016, the tachymeter bezel on all modern watches is either constructed from Cerachrom (ceramic) or 18k gold. Additionally, there are also very limited and exclusive model references fitted with gem-set bezels, like the "Leopard Daytona" or "Rainbow Daytona" which swap out the iconic tachymetric scale for an ultra-luxurious bezel set with diamonds or other brilliant gemstones.
Just like the Rolex Daytona collection itself, the movement used to power Rolex's iconic chronograph exists in three major generations.
First Series - Valjoux Caliber 72, Caliber 722, Caliber 727 (manual wound)
Second Series - Zenith El Primero Caliber 3019PHC; modified and re-named "Caliber 4030" by Rolex (automatic movement)
Third Series - Rolex in-house Caliber 4130 (automatic movement)
Every reference within the first generation of 37mm watches is powered by a manual-wind movement; however a few different calibers were used. The very first received the Valjoux 72, which was quickly replaced by the Valjoux 722. By the tail end of the 1960s, Rolex changed up the movement yet again, replacing the Valjoux 722 with the more precise Valjoux 727, which brought the frequency up to 21,600 VPH (vibrations per hour), compared to the 18,000 VPH of the previous models.
The second generation of movements corresponds with the second generation of watches with 40mm cases which were based on the 'El Primero' Caliber 3019 PHC - a self-winding chronograph movement made by Zenith. This generation marked the first automatic Daytona watches, and although Rolex heavily modified the original Zenith El Primero caliber - having their watchmakers replace roughly 50% of its total components and rename it the Caliber 4030 - this generation is known as the "Zenith Daytona" by many of today's collectors.
The third generation of movements was introduced in 2000 and still remains in production today. While Rolex has been selling automatic-winding Daytona watches since the late 1980s, it was only in the year 2000 that the mechanism used to power them became an in-house designed movement: the Caliber 4130.
Designing the entire movement from the ground up for maximum precision and dependability, Rolex simplified the architecture of the Caliber 4130 to incorporate far fewer components than a standard chronograph movement, increasing its overall reliability. With the space saved, Rolex was able to use a longer mainspring, which gave the Caliber 4130 movement an increased power reserve of 72-hours. Additionally, Rolex changed the chronograph coupling system from a lateral clutch to a vertical clutch on the Caliber 4130, which eliminates both the loss of amplitude and the “jitter” that occurs with lateral clutch mechanisms when starting or stopping the chronograph complication.
The Daytona is one of the most popular watches in the world, and virtually all references - both vintage and modern - enjoy a considerable amount of popularity among today's collectors. There is no such thing as a non-desirable one; however, some of the most popular references include the following:
Ref. 116500 - Steel, Cerachrom Bezel. Black or White Dial
Ref. 116520 - Steel, Steel Bezel. Black or White Dial
Ref. 116523 - Yellow Rolesor. Black/White/Champagne/Silver/Mother-of-Pearl Dials
Ref. 116505 - Everose Gold. Black/White/Rosé/Brown Dials
Ref. 116506 - Platinum, Cerachrom Bezel. Ice Blue Dial
Ref. 116508 Yellow Gold. Black/White/Green/Champagne/Mother-of-Pearl Dials
Ref. 116519 White Gold, Cerachrom Bezel, Oysterflex Strap (or Leather Strap-Discontinued). Black/White/Silver/Meteorite/Mother-of-Pearl Dials
Ref. 16520 - Steel, Steel Bezel. Black or White Dial
Ref. 16523 - Yellow Rolesor. Black/White/Champagne/Silver Dials
Ref. 16518 - Yellow Gold, Leather Strap. Black/White/Champagne/Mother-of-Pearl Dials
Ref. 6239 - Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold. Cream/Silver/Black Standard Dials, Plus Exotic Exotic Dial
Ref. 6241 - Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold. Acrylic Bezel. White/Black Standard Dials, Plus Exotic Dial
Ref. 6262 - Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold. Silver/Black/Champagne Standard Dials, Plus Exotic Dial
Ref. 6264 - Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold. Acrylic Bezel. Silver/Black/Champagne Standard Dials, Plus Exotic Dial
Ref. 6263 - Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold. Acrylic Bezel. Silver/Black/Champagne Standard Dials, Plus Exotic Dial
Ref. 6265 - Steel, 14k, 18k Yellow Gold. Silver/Black/Champagne Standard Dials, Plus Exotic Dial
The Rolex Daytona is easily one of the most famous luxury watches ever made and it is worn by countless individuals around the world, including actors, musicians, models, and professional athletes.
The Rolex Daytona ref. 116500 remains one of the most sought-after editions of the brand's famed chronograph. In addition to featuring the in-house Cal. 4130 movement, the ref. 116500 was also the first Daytona to feature an Oystersteel finish and a ceramic (aka Cerachrom) bezel. Cerachrom won't fade, scratch, or corrode and the reference 116500 is produced with either a white or black dial.
Another trending Daytona is the Oysterflex edition, which includes Rolex's patented rubber bracelet. Currently in production on the Oysterflex option are references 116515 (Everose), 116519 (white gold), and 116518 (yellow gold). If it's a two-tone Rolex Daytona that you're after, another popular reference is the ref. 116503 in Yellow Rolesor.
The Rolex Daytona is the brand's collection of chronograph watches, first launched in 1963. The collection is officially known as the Cosmograph Daytona, however today it is best-known around the world simply as the Rolex Daytona.
The Rolex Daytona is one of the most famous and desirable watches in the world. In addition to being built to the highest standards and only using the finest materials in their construction, what makes the collection so expensive is the massive demand for them. Virtually all Rolex retailers around the world are completely sold out of the most popular Daytona models, and most have incredibly long waiting lists.
The waiting list for the Daytona will differ from one model to the next and can also depend on the specific country where the retailer is located. For some of the most popular Daytona references, waiting lists can span multiple years in length, with no concrete timeline for when the one you order will be delivered.
Simply put, this collection is hard to find because everyone is looking for one. It is easily among the most desirable luxury watches in the world, and although Rolex produces a decent number of them each year, the demand far exceeds the supply, creating multi-year waiting lists for certain models at retailers.
The Daytona model is one the best buys in the entire luxury watch industry. It is often said that this collection is actually underpriced and is actually worth far more than the money Rolex charges for one. This is confirmed by the fact that many used Daytona models sell for significantly more than their original retail prices on the open market.
Rolex offers the Daytona in a wide variety of different materials and configurations, and the best Rolex Daytona to buy will come down to your individual needs. Stainless steel models make great everyday sports watches, while the solid gold and platinum models represent the final word in exclusive luxury. Many collectors even own multiple Daytona watches, due to the wide range of variation found within the collection.
If you're looking to sell a new, vintage, or used Rolex watch let Bob's Watches help. Get your quote quickly from one of the most trusted names in the pre-owned Rolex market. Click this link to learn about the history of the Rolex Daytona.