The Rolex Daytona, the racer’s watch that debuted in 1963, is a grail for many watch lovers. It’s the prize given to winners of the 24 Hours of Daytona, and Paul Newman — who wore his daily from 1972 until his death in 2008 — helped transform the watch into an icon. The Daytona is so sought after that many vintage versions sell at auction for over $100,000. It should come as no surprise, then, that upon its Baselworld reveal in March, the refreshed stainless steel Rolex Daytona became became one of the most talked-about watches of the year. Hodinkee even called it “the watch everyone was waiting for…since the 2013 50th anniversary of the Cosmograph Daytona.”
In fact, the watch is proving hard to get a hold of, even if you can afford its $12,400 asking price. Much like Ferrari’s most desirable supercars, Rolex has manufactured an amount of Daytonas that is considerably lower than demand. Waitlists are expected to be anywhere from two to five years long, a figure confirmed by Rolex’s 5th Avenue boutique in New York.
The big news driving this demand is the new watch’s bezel — new with “Cerachrom.” It’s a one-piece ceramic part that, through physical vapor deposition (PVD), has given the numerals on the bezel’s tachymeter scale a platinum finish for visibility. The addition of ceramic is a solid move on Rolex’s part — it’s a scratch-resistant material that won’t fade when faced with UV light. And it nods to ref. 6240 from 1965, which used a less-advanced black plexiglass ceramic insert. The Daytona also features two new dial options: a white dial with black accents on the sub dial and a black dial with silver accents.
The watch is powered by Rolex’s calibre 4130 automatic chronograph movement, but it is now accurate to +2/-2 seconds per day, which the brand notes is twice that of the requirement for COSC certification. Just like the new bezel and dials, it’s a small change that makes for a notable improvement over the previous steel Daytona. So: pony up, and in a few years you’ll be the envy of watch collectors everywhere.