The Rolex Daytona— it’s one of the most highly desired and collectable of all Rolex models. The Daytona was developed in the early 60s for professional race car drivers. The model gets its name from the popular speed racing destination Daytona Beach, Florida. In the mid 1930s, Daytona Beach became known world-wide when 14 world speed records were set in the little-known beach city, including 5 by the incredibly famous auto racer Sir Malcom Campbell— who happened to be an avid Rolex wearer. With time, Daytona Beach became known for its auto racing. Many speed events take place there to this day, including the Daytona 500. Shortly after the Daytona 500 began, Rolex introduced its race car driver model: the Rolex Daytona.
The Daytona was an evolution of the 1955 Rolex Chronograph, which was modified and received a name change in 1963 to capitalize on the public’s association of Rolex and the Daytona race car drivers who favored the watches. The new Daytona featured a highly reliable chronograph and a bezel featuring a tachymetric scale, which allowed drivers to perfectly measure racing speeds up to 400km an hour. To allow for ease of reading in varied light conditions, the Daytona also featured superluminious coatings in its hands and markers.
Though the Daytona is popular today, it wasn’t at the time of its release. Even its association with famous actor and racing enthusiast Paul Newman, and the corresponding Paul Newman versions of the Rolex Daytona, failed to inspire public interest in the watch. Public interest in the original models couldn’t be more different today— vintage Daytonas, and especially the distinctive Paul Newman model, are some of the most rare, collectable, and valuable watches in the world.
Since the release of the original Daytona models, Rolex has put out many distinctly different models. In the 1970s, Rolex majorly updated the wristwatch’s design. Particularly noticeable was the change to the subdials, with their new modern silver and black design. 1988 had another notable variation (the Oyster Perpetual Cosomograph Daytona) and the 2000s introduced another updated Daytona, a model that featured Rolex’s first ever in house chronograph.
Because there have been so many updates to the Daytona over the years, you’ll find Daytonas in a huge array of styles, colors, and precious metals, with some even featuring diamonds.
Though the Daytona was not popular at the time of its original release, it has become one of the most famous watches of all time. And the Paul Newman models, in particular, are some of the most sought after collector’s items in the world.
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