Even before the start of the 2013 Baselworld watch fair, watch aficionados — and Rolex freaks in particular — were buzzing about the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, the chronograph watch made famous by actor and motor racing enthusiast Paul Newman. While most knew Rolex would commemorate the milestone with a special watch, many were taken aback by the timepiece the brand actually produced.
The first Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona — a wristwatch in a steel case with a manual-wind chronograph movement, named after the famous racetrack — was released in 1963 and has been produced in various versions ever since. (Newman regularly and famously wore a Daytona when he took up auto racing in the 1970s; a few very rare models have what collectors now refer to as the “Paul Newman dial,” with block indices and crosshairs on the subdials.) The new model, however, is the very first Daytona with a platinum case. The color scheme — a dial in what Rolex calls “ice blue” and a bezel in what it terms “chestnut brown,” is also unprecedented in the collection. The watch, which Rolex’s press materials refer to as a “prestigious edition” will be priced at around $75,000, much higher than most Daytona models. Rolex admits that the new timepiece will not be attainable for every Daytona fan out there, but that the intent with the anniversary piece had always been to create something special and exclusive.
The Daytona’s familiar tachymeter bezel, a key element in its identity as a watch for auto racing, is made of Rolex’s proprietary Cerachrom material, an extra-hard, corrosion resistant ceramic, with the engraved numerals and graduations coated with a thin layer of platinum via a PVD (physical vapor deposition) process. The wearer can use the tachymeter scale, in conjunction with the chronograph, to measure average speeds of up to 400 miles (or kilometers) per hour.
Click the watch photos to enlarge the images, click here for a short video of the new Daytona.
The Daytona’s case measures 40 mm in diameter and claims a water-resistance of 100 meters (330 feet). Made in Rolex’s distinctive Oyster style, the case is machined from a solid block of 950 platinum and has a polished finish. The fluted caseback is hermetically screwed down with a special tool exclusive to Rolex watchmakers. The winding crown, fitted with Rolex’s patented Triplock water-resistance system, screws down securely against the case and is protected by a crown guard integrated into the case middle. The chronograph pushers also screw down securely. The crystal is made of scratch-resistant sapphire.
The outer scales on the chronograph subdials are made of chestnut brown lacquer, which matches the bezel and contrasts strikingly with the ice-blue dial, and have 18k white gold borders. White gold is also used for the applied hour markers and hands, which are coated in Chromalight, a luminescent substance emitting a blue glow that Rolex claims lasts longer than eight hours.