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Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is much loved among watch enthusiasts for all the right reasons. Apart from its design, it is also its history that is very impressive. Let’s take a deep dive into the history and significance of the Daytona moniker.

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Rolex Daytona watches – Chronographs coming into the picture

While the Cosmograph Daytona is one of the most popular chronographs today, it was not really the first chronograph from the house of Rolex. Prior to the launch of “Daytona”, Rolex, in the 1940s, released chronographs using outsourced movements housed in conventional Oyster cases.

In 1955, Rolex introduced a more modern chronograph, designated Reference 6234. At the time, the Swiss watch brand was manufacturing approximately 500 of these per year. The particular model featured three smaller sub-dials.

Rolex Daytona yellow gold

The sub-dial on the 9 o’clock position marks the passage of seconds up to 60 seconds. The sub-dials on the 3 o’clock position and 6 o’clock position mark the passage of minutes up to 30 minutes and hours up to 12 hours, respectively. The reference 6234 also came with a tachymeter scale on the outer ring, and a telemeter chronograph scale on the inner ring.

From here, Rolex started to lay the foundation for what the Daytona watches are today. The Swiss watchmaker launched the reference 6238, which was a successor to the reference 6234. The new model dropped the telemeter scale and updated its appearance. The watch included many of the features that were then passed on to its successor Reference 6239.

Birth of the Cosmograph Daytona branding

Rolex Daytona branding pays homage to Daytona Beach, Florida, the world capital of speed. There were 14 world land speed records set in Daytona Beach between 1904 and 1935. Five of the records were achieved by avid Rolex-wearer Sir Malcolm Campbell. Over the years, the destination became popular for other sporting events including the Daytona 500.

In 1962, Rolex became the official timekeeper of the Daytona International Speedway. In order to mark the occasion, the Cosmograph Reference 6239 was introduced with the nickname “Daytona”. Interestingly, the original example of the 6239 did not include “Daytona” on the dial. Also, it was nicknamed “Le Mans” after the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona watch

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona was launched with sports car racers in mind. While the timepiece was attractive and had a lot of useful features, it started gaining more attention only after receiving an endorsement from Paul Newman. Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor and a race car driver.

The early Rolex Daytona models of the 1960s and the 1970s are referred to as the Paul Newman series. These models are incredibly rare these days. Paul Newman Daytona series are considered valuable to watch enthusiasts and collectors. The most distinctive characteristic of these watches was the solid colored dial with contrasting sub-dials and an outer minute dial.

Rolex Daytona watch models that left a mark

Hundreds of Daytona models have been launched over the years. But there are certain models that were milestones and they layed the foundation for the watches to come. Even though the new Daytona models look more elegant and attractive, there is still a special place in the hearts of watch enthusiasts and collectors for some vintage Daytona models.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches

Here are the Rolex Daytona watch models that left a mark:

  • Reference 6238
  • First-ever Rolex Daytona watch
  • Exotic Dial Daytona
  • Reference 6240
  • Self-Winding Caliber 4030
  • Reference 116250
  • Modern-Day Daytona

Reference 6238

Even though the Rolex reference 6238 is from the pre-Daytona era, it still helped in laying the foundation for what Rolex chronographs are today. The model came with monochromatic dials and baton hands.

Rolex 6238 was powered by the Valjoux 72 Calibre chronograph movement. It did not feature the Oyster case nor the screwed-down crown and buttons, which is part of the modern Daytona design.

First-ever Rolex Daytona watch

The Rolex reference 6239 was considered the first-ever Daytona. It was not officially named Daytona yet but it received the changes that gave it a sporty and more elegant appearance, for which the Daytona has become popular. This model also had the inverse colors for the sub-dials.

This particular model had a white dial and a black subdial. Alongside that, the timepiece also had a tachymeter scale on the bezel instead of the edge of the dial like the previous model. Initially, the bezel graduated up to 300 units per hour, which was later changed to 200 units per hour.

Rolex sponsored the 24-hour race at the Daytona International Speedway, which gave the watch its name ‘Rolex Cosmograph Daytona’ in 1964. Daytona finally appeared on the dial in the following year.

Exotic Dial Daytona

While this is not a particular model, it is more of a style that Rolex opted for. The exotic dial was made by Singer, which was a well-known watch manufacturer of the era. These dials have very distinctive features. The dials had an outer track that matched the sub-dials. It also featured block hour markers instead of the lines.

Initially, these dials failed to appeal to watch enthusiasts. It did eventually pick up popularity after getting endorsed by Paul Newman. The watches with such dials got so popular that they were referred to as Paul Newman dials. Since then, the watch models became desirable by watch enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Reference 6240

Up until 1967, Rolex Cosmograph Daytona models were using pump-style pushers, which offered less water resistance. Rolex then introduced the reference 6240 and it came with screw-down style pushers. If you are not aware, “pushers” are the two buttons placed above and below the crown.

Coming back to the screw-down pushers, these held the two pushers in pace. They also increased the water resistance of the case finally bringing the Oyster name on its dial. This pusher style became so popular and it has become an integral part of the Rolex Daytona watch design. It is something that can still be seen in the Daytona models of today.

Self-Winding Caliber 4030

In 1988, Rolex introduced the next generation of Daytona watches. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Cosmograph Daytona series, this model also marked the first true change in a long time. The watch brought the use of a self-winding Caliber 4030. The automatic caliber came only after two decades of Daytona’s existence.

Besides that, it also got other updates that bridged the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona from the vintage era to the contemporary period. Rolex increased the case size of the watch to 40mm and the hour markers were changed from blocks to elongated arrowhead markers. The Swiss watch manufacturer also changed the look of the sub-dials from a fully contrasting color to just a contrasting timing clock. With these changes, the Rolex Daytona watch finally achieved modern standards.

Reference 116250

Rolex finally introduced a true in-house Calibre for the Cosmograph Daytona in the year 2000. The long-awaited change was implemented in reference 116250. It was the first every Daytona to feature the Caliber 4130 movement. It was designed to run efficiently in the simplest manner possible.

Caliber 4130 combined the two mechanisms which were separate in the Calibre 4030. The helped the timepiece to run more efficiently than the previous models. The 4130 also offered easy serviceability and it was a favorite among watch repairers.

Modern-Day Daytona

Rolex Daytona with black dial

As a part of the more recent update, the Swiss watch brand released the reference 116500LN in 2016. The watch incorporated the Cerachrom ceramic bezel on the classic stainless steel case. The proprietary ceramic compound from the house of Rolex also made it less prone to scratches and fading. It also made the watch look edgier and

Rolex Daytona watches at WatchMaestro

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is one of the best-looking watches out there. At WatchMaestro, you can find your favorite Rolex Daytona model for purchase or you can even sell your watch. Besides, you can even exchange your luxury watches in Dubai for a Daytona.

Here are the options available at WatchMaestro:

  • Purchase a Cosmograph Daytona
  • Sell or exchange your Daytona watch

Purchase a Rolex Daytona

If you want to buy a Rolex Daytona, you can pick one up from WatchMaestro, either brand-new or pre-owned. Most of the watches available in our store are in brand-new condition, and they all come with original box and paperwork. If you are looking for a specific reference of the Daytona or any other model like the Rolex GMT Master II, we can source it for you.

Sell or exchange your Daytona

If you already have a Rolex Daytona watch, you can sell it at WatchMaestro and get a great deal. Either you can sell the watch directly to us or you can consign it with us. Under the consignment service, we will list your Daytona watch on our website at an agreed price.

In case you are interested in getting something in exchange for your Daytona, we can help you with that as well. Just get in touch with one of our associates and they would be able to guide you through.

Nicknames associated with Daytona models

All Rolex watches have been well-received by watch enthusiasts and collectors alike. The designs of these watches have often resembled something giving them a nickname eventually. Although there are not a lot of nicknames associated with Cosmograph Daytona models, there are some significant ones.

Here are the nicknames everyone should know about:

  • Paul Newman Daytona
  • The Panda
  • Platona
  • Zenith

Paul Newman Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona picked up a lot of attention after getting endorsed by actor and race car driver Paul Newman. He used to wear the Rolex Daytona reference 6239 both off-screen and on-screen. There there was a trend of a new exquisite dial called the “Exotic dial”, which is now referred to as the “Paul Newman dial”. Interestingly, the model was only made famous by Paul Newman himself in the 1970s.

The distinctive “Paul Newman dial” has a unique art-deco font and sub-dial numerals. There was also a small “step” in the dial between the outer minute track and the center of the dial. It is worth noting that the “Paul Newman” has now become one of the most collectible Rolex timepieces.

As an interesting fact, Paul Newman’s own “Paul Newman” Daytona was sold in 2019 at an auction for a jaw-dropping $17.8 million (roughly 65.4 million AED).

The Panda

Rolex Daytona white dial panda

With the distinct choice of the color scheme used on the dial, the Rolex Daytona 116500LN received the nickname “The Panda”. The timepiece featured a white dial, black Cerachrom bezel and black rings around the chronograph sub-dials. The watch clearly resembled the face of a panda.

There is also another variant of the same watch available that features a black dial with a black bezel and white rings around the sub-dials. This model was referred to as the “Reverse Panda”. Both the watches were and still are among the favorites of many watch collectors.


The word Platona was derived from the fusion of two words, Platinum and Daytona. Released in 2013 as a part of the 50th anniversary of Daytona, the Rolex “Platona” ref. 116506 was made of 950 platinum. It was the first-ever Daytona made of the precious metal. This particular model featured an ice blue dial and a chestnut brown ceramic bezel.


Introduced in the late 1980s, the Rolex Daytona 16520 is referred to as the “Zenith” because of its Zenith El Primero movement. It was the first-ever self-winding Daytona watch. The Zenith El Primero Caliber 400 was considered the best self-winding movement at the time. Since Rolex is now manufacturing everything in-house, these “Zenith” watches have become rare to find. Hence, the vintage watch is now considered a collector’s item.

How to use your Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is one of the most sought-after chronographs in the world. Rolex Daytonas were specially designed for the racing world. These watches not only tell the time but also have a chronograph feature that allows them to act as a stopwatch. These watches can measure events for up to 12 hours.

Using the chronograph feature in conjunction with the tachymeter found on the bezel, the watch can also be used to calculate both speed and distance.

Rolex Daytona Oysterflex

Taking advantage of the chronograph

In order to use the chronograph feature, you will first have to unscrew the two pushers. These are screwed in place to give the watch water resistance. This is why it is advised not to go underwater when the pushers are unscrewed.

Upon unscrewing the pushers you just have to make sure that the seconds hand is stopped. If not, you can press the upper pusher to stop it manually. If you want to resent the chronograph seconds hand, just press the lower pusher. Now, pressing the upper pusher will both start the timing function and stop it when done timing.

Reading the elapsed time

To know the reading of the elapsed time in seconds, you can look at the center chronograph sub-dial. For the precise reading of the time elapsed in minutes, you can look at the sub-dial at 3 o’clock. You can also look at the sub-dial at 9 o’clock for precise reading of the elapsed time in hours.

Frequently asked questions about Rolex Daytona watches

Is it hard to get a Rolex Daytona in Dubai?

Due to the low-production run, it might get tough to buy a brand-new Rolex Daytona from the showroom. But, you can get one without having to be on a waitlist with WatchMaestro.

Does a Rolex Daytona hold its value?

Yes. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is one of the most popular Rolex models and they hold their value quite well.

Where can I sell my Rolex Daytona in Dubai?

You can sell your Rolex Daytona or any other luxury watch at WatchMaestro in a few simple steps.

Can I trade my Rolex Oyster Perpetual for a Rolex Daytona in Dubai?

Absolutely. With WatchMaestro, you can trade in any of your luxury watches for a Rolex Daytona.

Can I get my Rolex Daytona watch serviced in Dubai?

Yes. You can bring your watch to us and we wills service it for you. Not only that, but we can also help you with any customizations that you might be looking for.

When did the Rolex Daytona first launch?

Rolex Daytona was first released back in 1963.

Which are some notable people seen wearing a Rolex Daytona?

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is a popular choice among celebrities. The timepiece has been seen on the wrists of Jay Z, Jonah Hill, Michael Jordan, John Legend and Elle Macpherson, among others.

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