Rolex Daytona History and Reference Guide

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Nowadays The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is the world's rarest comtemporary wristwatch with waiting lists with an average of five or eight years and sale prices of around three times its original price.
Here is a brief guide of the Pre Daytonas, Daytonas and Cosmograph Daytona models with the most important References. In this guide we include collectible items and their main characteristics to recognize easily the difference between these Rolex Chronograph watches.
Daytona Cosmograph watches are certificated chronographs dedicated to speed. They allow to measure spin times with their hour, minutes and seconds totalizers. They also come with a graduated bezel that serves as a tachometer and to calculate the average speed. Putting to these watches the name of the city that more than 100 years ago hosts racings and car testings was a great idea and a milestone in the Cosmograph range.
Today, Rolex continues as carrer sponsor not only for the resistance style racings as the Rolex Daytona 24, 24 hours of  Le Mans series, but also events such as the classic Goodwood Revival of England, for racing cars before 1966, The Rolex Monterrey Historic Automobile Races in California and the Rolex Vintage Festival in Connecticut.

Rolex Pre Daytona 6238   Pre Daytona 6235-2

The Rolex Chronograph Ref. 6238 "Pre-Daytona" Model

Produced in the begining of the 1960s to 1967, the chronograph ref. 6238 is one of the last models with smooth bezel and graduated scale printed on dial. A casual and sporty watch, its design is more modern compared to earlier Rolex Chronograph watches. Considered the predecessor of the Daytona, the Reference 6238 is known among collectors as the Pre Daytona model.
The first series, introduced around the serial number 1000000, was realized with a Silver monochromatic dial (dark or light with radial shading) or black (more rare). The rarest model contains the medical scale.

Characteristics of the Rolex Chronograph Pre-Daytona Ref. 6238:
Case: Oyster with Push-down buttons, Oyster Twinlock 600 series winding crown, smooth metal bezel, domed plexiglas crystal, monochromatic dial and registers. The most characteristic feauture is the graduated scale printed on dial.
Dial: Rolex Chronograph inscription with unspecified waterproof depth.
Movement: valjoux caliber 72 B (until 1965) or caliber 722 (from. approx. 1965 to 1967).

Red Daytona 6263 Daytona Steel Bezel

The Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona - Ref. 6263 and 6265

At the beginning of the 1970s, and until approximately the end of 1987, Rolex presents the two new chronograph references 6263 and 6265. In the continuous search to improve the waterproofing Rolex introduces various modifications differing from references 6262 and 6264, reintroducing the use of the screw-down push buttons and a large winding crown, as used on ref. 6240.
Also the Daytona Cosmograph references 6263 and 6265 differ from each other in the type of bezel: with black plastic insert and tachymeter printed in white for ref. 6263; in metal with engraved tachymeter for ref. 6265.

Characteristics of the Oyster Cosmograph Daytona watches:
Case: Oyster, screw-down push buttons, oyster Twinlock 700 series winding crown, calibrated metal bezel with black insert and tachymeter printed in white (ref. 6263), calibrated metal bezel (ref. 6265), domed plexiglass crystal (until approx. 1980).  The standard plexiglass crystal (from approx. 1980 to the end of production)
Dial: color contrast between dial and registers with ROLEX OYSTER COSMOGRAPH printing; DAYTONA in red above hour totalizer (only Stainless Steel models from the half of 1970s on) and also SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED (only on gold models, not always present). Declared waterproofing of Cosmograph Daytona model is 50 meters (165 ft) approx. until the beginning of 1980s and 100 meters (330 ft) until the end of production.

Paul Newman Dial 6239 Rolex Collectible

Rolex Daytona with Paul Newman Dial - Ref. 6239 - Collectible

The Paul Newman dial, the version most tied to the car racing world, is born in collaboration with Rolex being the official chronometric time keeper of the racing circuit in Daytona, Florida, and Le Mans, France.
On the market after the Ref. 6239 came out in early 1960s and also referred to as “exotic” or “tropical”, it is renamed as the Paul Newman by collectors, since it was worn by the actor to promote the film “Winning” on movie posters. In the movie the actor is seen wearing a Rolex watch, but not a chronograph Daytona with “exotic” dial. On more than one occasion however the actor can be seen wearing a Rolex with the dial to which he unknowingly lent his time.

Characterized by the 3D shape created by the levels between the central body of the dial, registers and chronographic seconds track, it is used on all the hand winding Daytona chronograph references, with the exception of gold models references 6269 and 6270.
The Daytona signature, present only on dials created for models with push-down buttons (refs. 6239, 6241, 6262, 6264) is always located above the hour totalizer: Printed in red on stainless steel models; printed in color contrasting to the background of the dial on Gold models. On dials meant for models with screw-down push buttons (refs. 6240, 6263, 6265) the Daytona signature is missing.
The three colors dial, only for stainless steel models, is available in two versions with ligth or black background, registers and chronographic seconds track in contrasting color and 60th scale in red. The Daytona signature is always printed in red above the hour totalizer.

   Rolex Daytona 16500   Daytona Patrizzi

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 16500 series - Daytona Zenith

In 1988, after stopping the production of hand winding Daytona chronographs, Rolex launches on the market its first automatic chronograph, waterproof up to 100 mts.
Produced in stainless steel, steel & gold, and 18K gold, with metal bracelet and bezel, Rolex assigns a specific reference number to each model according to the material of construction: 16520 for the stainless steel model, 16523 for the steel & gold model and 16528 for the yellow gold model. After a few years Rolex added two new models to its series: in 1992 ref. 16518 in 18k Gold and leather strap; in 1997 Ref. 16519 in white gold and leather strap.
The most important change was the creation of the new movement caliber 4030, based on caliber 400 Zenith, the best industrial chronographic movement on the market at the time. Rolex performed about 200 modifications to reach their rigorous productive standards, such as the replacement of the reversing wheel and the elimination of the data indicator.
Rolex is thus able to re-launch the trend of chronographs: a new philosophy that will shortly make this watch a number one collector’s item.

Characteristics of the Cosmograph Daytona "Zenith" watches:
Case: Oyster, screw-down push buttons; Oyster Triplock 700 series winding crown, calibrated metal bezel, sapphire crystal. Dimensions: Cases's diameter = 40 mm; height= 12.6 mm.
Dial: color contrast between dial and registers track, dial indexes and registers track edge in metal, Printing on dial: ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL, certification of official chronometer (COSC), COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA in red above the hour totalizer and waterproof up to 100 mts (330 ft). Luminous material was tritium at first, Superluminova was used later.
Movement: Rolex Caliber 4030 (base Caliber Zenith 400 El Primero), 31 jewels, 28800 beats per hour, 54-hour power reserve, Kif shock absorption; bi-directional rotor, fine regulation via Microstella screws; Breguet balance-spring; non-stop seconds function; official chronometer with C.O.S.C. certification.

Daytona Zenith Sticks DIAL

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500 series - Rolex own Caliber 4130

In autumn of 1999 Rolex's technicians were already nearly finished with their work, not only with the construction of the firm's own caliber, but also with the years of testing that preceded its launch. The new Rolex Caliber 4130 debuted at the watch convention held in Basel, Switzerland in March of 2000. The Rolex Caliber 4030 Presents itself as a mature, uncommonly high-performance and unconditionally reliable chronograph movement.
This new Caliber construction results in a different Daytona model. The Hunter style construction (small seconds above the 6) rather than Léphine-style construction (with small seconds beside the 9). The result of this it's a new dial appearence with different chronograph register's position. The new Daytona dial also presents wide markers that makes it more readable.
With the Ref. 116500 Rolex includes the Stop-seconds function to the Cosmograph Daytona Chronograph that was not present in the old Cosmograph Daytona model.

Characteristics of the New Cosmograph Daytona watches - Rolex Caliber 4130:
Case: Oyster, screw-down push buttons; screw down triplock crown with flank protection; screw-down push-pieces; fully threated; screw-down back; sapphire crystal; water resistant to 100 meters. Diameter: 40 mm; height: 12.4 mm (slightly thinner than the Old Daytona model):
Dial: Less color contrast between dial and registers track, wide dial indexes and registers track edge in metal, Printing on dial: ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL, certification of official chronometer (COSC).
Movement: Automatic chronograph movement; Rolex Caliber 4130; 44 jewels, 28800 beats per hour; 72-hour Power Reserve, Rolex own's spiral balance-spring; Kif shock absorption; bi-directional rotor; fine regulation with microstella screws, Breguet balance-spring, stop-seconds function, official chronometer with C.O.S.C. certification.

Daytona in White Gold Ref. 116519

For more information about about Rolex Daytona Watches History and Reference Guide please read:
- Rolex Daytona History and Reference Guide at Interwatches eBay Store

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