OCTOBER 2009  


How Did It Become One of the Most
Collectible Watches in the World?

The story of the Rolex Daytona has been discussed, written, wondered at, and sometimes even scorned.  Yet it remains, 45+ years after it was first introduced as the Rolex Cosmograph in the early 1960's, one of the most identifiable and sought-after models in watch history. How did it happen?
To my mind, the Daytona is a perennially collectible watch because it combines a masculine design, rarity and the implication of military styling with a durable hardworking technology. This 20th century iconic design combines a great look with the brand strength of Rolex, underlined by rarity. 

The Daytona - which started out as the Cosmograph without the Daytona, (by the way, a series we usually refer to as pre-Daytona) was originally distributed widely throughout military air forces, including those in the Balkans and South America. It was made as a precision instrument and was valued for its styling and its accuracy, worn by military and by sportsmen. It was not until the late 1960's that the arc-shaped Daytona was printed on the dial, in homage to Daytona, Florida, home of the Daytona Speedway, a perfect venue to wear and use a Cosmograph, which became an official prize for the race winner. 
In general, the early Daytonas are more collectible than more recent ones, because they are less available.  In the case of the famous, or infamous, Paul Newman Daytonas from the 1960's, their popularity among collectors is due not only to their early manufacture and Newman's celebrity but also to the unique dial design used  for these models at that time - references 6239, 6240, 6263, and 6265 - which is relatively stripped down and simplified.
All  Daytonas - both pre-Daytona and Daytona - were  manual wind chronographs, until 1988, when Rolex introduced automatic movements and these earlier references remain the rarer and more expensive, including 6238 , 6239, 6240, 6241, 6264, and 6265. A superb guide to these watches and the details of authenticity, including the later automatic 16520/23/28 and the 16518/19 references, is Rolex Daytona: a Legend is Born published by Best Editions in a bilingual Italian and English version.
Automatic movements were introduced in 1988, using an adaptation of Zenith's remarkable 'El Primero' movement, made to Rolex's exacting specifications. These Daytonas - the reference 16500 - are sleekly designed, also very collectible. Collectors have also added value to the so-called Patrizzi dial, an aberrant dial of the 16500 that is darker on the three registers, having some color change over time, as the enamel formula on the particular dials apparently cured differently with time and exposure to sunlight.
In 2000, Rolex introduced its own Daytona Rolex movement, the caliber 4030, which leads to a significant design change, moving the constant seconds register from the 9 o'clock position to the 6 o'clock position and eliminating models with an inset black bezel in favor of the polished metal engraved calibrated bezel only.

At the present time, there are a number of newer Daytona designs, including a new white gold model on a leather strap, rather than the steel Jubilee bracelet and variant dials, including mother-of-pearl and diamond dials which seem to be aimed at the women's market, perhaps in recognition that women also collect and wear this large format chrono.
Are Daytonas still collectible, I am asked. And if so, what is their value?  The answer is that Daytonas have backed off the high collector prices of 2007, losing 20% to 40%. However, that 40% applies only to the very high supplemental values of the 'Paul Newman' variations, leaving the majority of Daytonas doing better than most other economic indicators in the past year. 

They are one of the few watch styles that are recognized even by non-collectors and that instant identification goes a long way to insuring their continuing strength in the collector's market. The greater risk today in the marketplace is the enormous number of forgeries, fakes and pieced-together versions that are not original. It is imperative that you authenticate your Daytona with experts before you part with your money.

That done, Daytona's 45+ year run as a desirable icon is a pretty safe bet.
Keep tuned and stay on time,

Edward S. Faber


A 'pre-Daytona' - a Cosmograph made before the name 'Daytona' was printed on the dial - in stainless steel, ref. 6234, circa 1955, in very good condition.  35.5mm case, white and cream dial with three registers, smooth outer bezel. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.


Rolex Ref. 6265 rare early steel Daytona, circa 1975,manual wind Cosmograph, with red Daytona and screwdown pushers. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.

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Stainless steel 'Paul Newman' Daytona, ref. 6239, circa 1960's, with signature dial with outer white track with red minute markers.  Warrantied as to authenticity and in very good condition. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.


18K and steel two-tone Cosmograph, Zenith movement, champagne dial, circa 1999, in excellent condition with original certificate. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.


Stainless steel Daytona, ca 1992, black dial, red Daytona, with rare Patrizzi 'color-changing' dial, Zenith 'El Primero' automatic movement, comes with original certificate, in excellent condition. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.


Stainless Steel Daytona with Rolex automatic movement, circa 2000, engraved calibrated outer bezel, constant seconds at 6 o'clock. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.

Stainless steel Daytona with Rolex automatic movement, circa 2003, in excellent condition, black dial with red Daytona, calibrated polished bezel, constant seconds at 6 o'clock. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.


Pre-owned but current production by Rolex, with Rolex movement, of the 18K white gold Daytona with pink mother-of-pearl dial, constant seconds at 6 o'clock, engraved calibrated bezel, the ref. 11519, circa 2008. For further information call 212-586-8411 or sales@aaronfaber.com.
We regret that we cannot be responsible for typographical errors.  All items shown are pre-owned and vintage Rolex wristwatches, Aaron Faber is not an authorized Rolex dealer.