A Deep Dive into the History of Rolex Daytona: 60th Anniversary Edition

I. Introduction

Today, we would like to discuss the history of Rolex Daytona models, tracing their evolution over time. Furthermore, we are excited to showcase the latest 2023 releases, which are special 60th-anniversary editions. These are the 60th-anniversary releases, not just another regular Daytona release - just because Rolex isn't cutting a cake doesn't mean the watch didn't first come out in 1963! And these are 2023 models, so you do the math.

A. When was the first Rolex Daytona Released?

In 1963, with reference number #6239, the words Daytona finally appeared on the watch's dial. Before then, Rolex had been releasing chronographs since the 1930s. During that previous time period, the watch was called the Le Mans.

Rolex Paul Newman Daytona Reference# 6239 - steel with black chronograph dials

B. What was the Rolex Daytona named after? 

You may be wondering why the words "Daytona" and "Cosmograph" are written on the watch's dial. 

The Rolex Daytona was named after the famous Daytona Speedway in Florida.Daytona Speedway which is what the Rolex Daytona was named after.

"Cosmograph" because the watch was in the race to be the first watch in space, but they did end up losing to Omega. Astronaut Wearing the Omega watch that was the first to make it to space.

II. History of the Rolex Daytona

The next release after the #6239 is the #6240. This is when some of the watches had the word Daytona, and some didn't. This variation was also one of the rarest produced among the Daytona. After this, we have the release of the #6241, and finally, the word Daytona is on all of the watches from here on out. 

A. 1970s - #6262 through #6265

In the 1970s, we had four new variations from the Daytona.

These feature the new 727 caliber movement, and they're made in stainless steel and gold. The reference numbers are 6262, 6263, 6264, and 6265. 

4 Rolex Daytona's side by side reference #6262-6265

Around this time, Paul Newman was gifted his first Daytona by his wife. He wore the 6239, and he also had an exotic dial. Paul Newman was a race car driver, an actor, a director, and basically did a bit of everything. He really helped popularize the Daytona, and he's one of the main reasons why the Daytona is seen in the mainstream watch world today and why it is such a successful and influential watch. 

B. 1988-2000 - Daytona Zenith Reference #16500, birth of the modern Daytona. 

Rolex Zenith on the left pictured with another Rolex Daytona in Gold on the Right

Fast forward to 1988. We have a new release of the Daytona Reference #16500. This watch was known as the Daytona Zenith because Zenith was the one who created the caliber known as the Zenith El Primero. This was really the birth of the modern Daytona. As you can see, this version of the Daytona is the closest thing to a modern-day Daytona that we'd seen at that point.

The Zenith Daytona had its run from 1988 to 2000, then was the new release of the #116500. This one had the new 4130 caliber, and it was slightly thinner but had a bigger case size of 42 millimeters. 

Stainless Steel with Black Dial - Rolex Daytona Reference #116500

C. 2013 Onwards - Ceramic Bezels and the Modern Daytona. 

Fast forward a couple of years to 2013, Rolex has been introducing the ceramic bezel into some models. It wasn't until 2016 that they really started to implement ceramic bezels into all of the models, and this was super helpful because many people complained about their watches getting really scratched up, and this just solved that issue for them. 

III. 60th Anniversary Rolex Daytona Picks.

A. 2023 Rolex Daytona "Panda" 60th Anniversary - Reference: #116500LN

And now, we're excited to show you guys the 2023 release of the "Panda" Rolex Daytona 60th anniversary edition, reference number #116500LN. The difference between this panda and the last one is very small, but if you want an in-depth explanation, we did make a video on that!

Rolex Daytona Panda 2023 116500LN - Stainless Steel with black Ceramic Bezel

B. Two-Tone Gold Daytona Reference: #126503

This piece has a gorgeous two-tone bracelet with a champagne dial, and we also have the black outlined sub-dials.

Two Tone Yellow Gold Rolex Daytona 126503

C. Two-Tone Daytona OysterFlex Reference number #126518

Next up, we have the OysterFlex version, Reference number #126518. This has the same gold case and champagne dial and has the full black sub-dials and the black bezel. The gold outlining around the black bezel is a really nice touch. 

 Rolex Daytona #126518 - Gold with Black Dials and Black Ceramic Bezel

D. Rose Gold Daytona Reference Number #126505

Lastly, my favorite watch of the whole video is reference number #126505. This has a gorgeous black dial with diamond hour markers on a beautiful rose gold bracelet and case. Everything about this watch is perfect. At Watches Off 5th, we like to call this the naked Rainbow Daytona. 

Rolex Daytona 126505 - Rose Gold with Black Dial and Diamond Hour Markers

IV. Conclusion

Thank you guys so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this deep dive into the History of the Rolex Daytona, and think about what Daytona model is your favorite. Bye!