Yup, I am in the watch mood. Basel World 2013 just came to a close, and the world’s watch manufacturers had their finest on display and their newest, most exciting treats were announced there. I unfortunately did not attend Basel World, but I have had a close eye on what is new coming out of there. This piece, I am truly excited about, from a brand that I enjoy, but haven’t said a lot about. This watch is the stuff dreams are made of, it the type of piece that (excuse the expression) gives watch collectors a woody, in a word it’s breathtaking.
Rarely will you hear me fawn over Rolex, their watches are classically designed beautiful pieces; simple, elegant, and timeless. Many of their models have remained largely aesthetically familiar or unchanged throughout their run. This is not a negative, they design a classic watch that you adopt into your lifestyle, and you define what it means to you, not the other way around. They stand on their own; they are robust advanced movements in classically designed cases. No need for me to pour on the adulation….usually.
The Daytona model dates to 1963; it was not the first Rolex chronograph, but a tachymeter that was designed to be used in the racing world. The first models were not initially very popular and weren’t even Rolex in-house movement. They were fitted with Valjoux caliber 72 manual wind movements, and later with embellished Zenith El Premiro automatics. Actor and racing legend Paul Newman is the one who really propelled the Daytona to the lofty status it holds today. When he and his team won the GTS-1 class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1995, he was awarded a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona chronograph at the end of the race. A proper trophy for someone who had worn this model since the early 1970s, when he began racing. The Daytona accompanied him throughout his career, and the specific dual-colored and cross haired dial pattern he wore has become the ultimate collector piece.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Daytona, Rolex introduced a new version of the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, along with a few other nice pieces, at Basel world 2013. The Daytona model originally launched in 1963, exactly 50 years ago this year. This chronograph is offered, for the first time, entirely in 950 platinum, and is fitted with a chestnut brown monobloc Cerachrom bezel and an ice blue dial. As I said earlier it is a tachymeter, which is an instrument used to measure speed. A key part of this Daytona’s identity is the ceramic bezel and tachymetric scale; it can be used to measure average speeds of up to 400 miles or kilometers per hour.
I absolutely adore the color ensemble. I have always been a fan of the blue dials, as you may have seen in the review of my Air-King. The Glacier blue dial that is used exclusively on their platinum pieces really looks better on this than any other platinum model, ahe rich chestnut brown bezel and enameled chapter rings of the sub dials is what sets this soft blue dial off perfectly. The brown is almost the color of the so called “tropical” patina color that vintage black dials have aged to and have become so popular. The numerals and graduations are easily read thanks to the thin layer of platinum via a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) laid over them. All of this mated with the bright lustrous platinum case and bracelet makes this truly a sight to behold.
Now I couldn’t praise this watch just on beauty (even though it is gorgeous), but it is a fantastically built work horse as well. The reference number 116506 is this Daytona; the 40mm oyster cased monoblocked in platinum on an oyster bracelet. The Oyster case is one of the foundations of the reputation for excellence of Rolex watches, a system of screwing down the bezel, case back and winding crown against the middle case. This piece also features a triplock crown and pushers; and scratch resistant sapphire crystal making it water-resistant to 100 meters. Like the mollusk it is named for, the Rolex Oyster is robust and clamped shut. It provides a hermetic environment that protects the high-precision perpetual movement from water, dust, or pressure.
The Cosmograph Daytona is equipped with caliber 4130 self-winding mechanical chronograph movement. It is entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex, and it incorporates far fewer components than a standard chronograph movement, thus improving reliability. The 4130’s functions include Center hour and minute hands, small seconds hand at 6 o’clock, chronograph center second hand accurate to within 1/8 of a second, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, as well as stop seconds for precise time setting. The movement’s oscillator is a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, which offers greater resistance to shocks and to temperature variations, and is self-winding via a bidirectional perpetual rotor. Like all of the Rolex Perpetual movements, the 4130 is a certified Swiss chronometer, which means that this watch successfully passed the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) tests.
This watch is disappointingly not at all for the average collector like you and I. With a retail price of $75,000 when it hits stores later this year places it out of the reach of all but the most serious collectors. As I stated “it is the stuff dreams are made of.”The 50th Anniversary Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is not only beautiful and refined, but it is totally swell.
(images courtesy of Rolex)