The year is 1963. The place is Daytona Beach, Florida – America’s answer to Le Mans, France, the serious race circuit where land-speed records have been broken year after year. It has traditionally been about boys with their toys, extreme speed and fine cars. And, as with so many examples of human endurance and technological progress throughout the last hundred years, Rolex has accompanied it with its watchmaking.
As early as the thirties, Rolex introduced a Chronograph model – a complication on a watch designed to record accurately the lapse of time. Thus, its affiliation with fast cars was a natural evolution. Daytona became the world’s epicentre of exhilarating driving, and the Rolex Cosmograph forever symbolised these glory years. By the early 60s, the iconic watch, designed for ‘sports enthusiasts and businessmen’, officially accepted its sobriquet, and was forevermore dubbed ‘the Daytona’.
Clearly, its not a simple case of black or white.
Many legendary timepieces that go on to be worth small fortunes have humble roots. In its early incarnations, a stainless steel Daytona wouldn’t fetch much more than USD$1,500. Now, some of these original versions, such as the Paul Newman Daytona, are such rare collector pieces that people do consider selling vital organs in order to own one. (Admitedly, my kidneys are in fine working order and available to the highest bidder.)
People often ask me advice as to which watch they should buy, in particular as an investment. I can only ever give one honest answer: if you’re looking to make money, unless you’re a professional watch dealer, you’re buying a watch for the wrong reason. This is something you will put on your wrist forever – which is investment of an altogether different kind. Emotional attachment is key. And this comes with knowing that you are wearing something of the finest quality. As with the craftsmanship of hand-stitched Italian leather shoes or the goldsmithery of an intricate necklace, assurance comes not only in the form of tastefulness but respect for a hand-made creation; one that’s as revered for its aesthetics as it is for its finish, for its form as for its function.
This is key to Rolex having become the watchmakers they are today. Their watches are beautiful. Their designs have varied very little from 100 years ago to today’s versions – why would they, given that they are perfectly crafted and aesthetically delectable? The Daytona was aimed at businessmen, as mentioned above in the terminology used in Rolex’s official advertisements. But what we’ve witnessed in the last decade, in the realm of timepiece choices, is an appropriation tantamount to the daring of Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn adopting trousers and ‘menswear’ into their own codes of dressing. Women wearing men’s timepieces is a talking point right now, due to our choices in wrist adornments leaning towards the larger scale models in recent years, but perhaps one day it won’t be us wearing their timepieces anymore: we may all be able to share a watch design any the notions of gender ownership.
This notion is already becoming a reality, thanks to the Daytona. This is simply a woman – someone who understands the value of quality timepieces and who has an appreciation for timeless, classic design – wearing an awesome watch. The Daytona practically marks the revolution in women choosing larger designs, the stylish adoption of luxury sports watches, the – shock horror – requisition of men’s timepieces. Of course, it has not become a woman’s watch: some of the coolest guys I know rock them smart and casually. The Daytona has merely experienced a further elevation in its status, if that was ever possible, from the world’s coolest watch to the world’s coolest watch now worn by the world’s most beautiful women, Elle Macpherson being one of the original adopters.
From Rolex’s own creation of rose gold (18 karat Everose gold) to the classic stainless steel, or – my personal favourite – the two-tone steel and yellow gold, the Daytona is an icon and continues to mark momentous occasions with aplomb (my kidney-sale proceeds will probably go on a vintage all yellow gold). Suffice to say, invest with your head and your heart – you may just love this one forever.
The latest incarnation of the Daytona is significant for a few reasons. Firstly, purely aesthetically speaking, this 2016 stainless steel ceramic bezel piece, is quite simply, stunning. Fact. And the 3-5 year waiting list would suggest its irrefutable beauty is a hit with both new and existing Daytona enthusiasts everywhere.
Further to its gleaming, delectable curves, the black scratch- and fade-proof Cerachrom (Rolex’s-own ceramic) bezel, is the first of its kind on a non-precious metal case. This stainless steel version comes with a monochrome colour palette, reminiscent of, though not directly referencing, the most coveted Daytona of all, the Paul Newman.
On a more technical note, the calibre of this year’s version, is the same perpetual in-house 4130 that’s been used to power the Daytona’s since 2000 and is a self-winding mechanical chronograph with a magnetic-resistant Parachrom blue hairspring.
The major difference this year however of the Cosmograph Daytona, as per all watches in the Oyster collection, is that not only is the calibre COSC certified – meaning it has passed the highest industry standard of performance tests – but Rolex have introduced their own in-house form of testing which has stricter guidelines for margins of error, so is now certified as a Superlative Chronometer.
All this only goes to confirm this latest Daytona as yet another example of the perfect combination of what Rolex do best: timeless beauty in terms of design of dressy sports watches combined with the continually evolving technological innovations.
Source: TheRake.com Photo: TheRake.com Video: Youtube.com