Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, the chronograph watch made famous by actor and motor racing enthusiast Paul Newman. The anniversary edition that Rolex released at Baselworld 2013 still generates strong opinions in the brand’s legion of fans. Here is a closer look at the watch.
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.) This 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” is priced at around $75,000, much higher than most Daytona models. Rolex admits that the new timepiece is not 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.
The movement that powers this special edition of the Cosmograph Daytona is Rolex’s manufacture Caliber 4130, a self-winding column-wheel chronograph movement that is also a COSC-certified chronometer. The movement has a vertical clutch, a bidirectional rotor on a ball bearing, and an oscillator with a hairspring made of blue Parachrom, another Rolex-exclusive, patented material that is uncommonly resistant to magnetic fields. Hairsprings made of Parachrom, an alloy of niobium, zirconium, and oxygen, are said to remain stable through temperature variations and be much less susceptible to shocks, remaining, according to Rolex, 10 times more precise in case of shocks than a traditional hairspring. The watch is available, at this point, only on a solid-link Oyster bracelet made of 950 platinum — which is certainly another factor in the high price. The bracelet includes Rolex’s Oysterlock safety clasp, which prevents accidental opening, and the patented Easylink quick-extension system that allows the wearer to easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm without the use of a tool.
This article was originally published on May 9, 2013, and has been updated.