Insider: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116520. Celebrating 50 Years of an Iconic Reference.

Launched in 1963, this is a Rolex reference that needs no introduction or long lines to describe it. Fifty years ago, one of the most iconic watches of all time was born. All watchlifestylers know this watch very well, as there's a wealth of knowledge and amazing content —in cyberspace and in books— regarding the history of this amazing reference that has already been published; therefore, we will focus on sharing some nice images of this wonderful iconic watch and give you some basic reference information.

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is definitely one of our all-time favorite chronographs; however, the lack of a date aperture is a deal breaker for us. They are elegant, refined and iconic.

Any watchlifestyler can spot one from a block away and the watch spotting always turns into a nice conversation as this is still a 'grail' watch for many collectors. We should say that there's almost a 'cult following' fueled by Italian collectors and by the many intricacies and variations that this watch has had over half a century.

For those that wear this amazing reference, thank you for paying tribute to one of the most beautiful watches ever made in the history of watchmaking. 

This reference, originally launched as ref. 6239 in 1963, has undergone several changes to its bezel, pushers, dial configurations, movements and reference numbers. A true evolution of a classic watch. For instance, the original ref. 6239 featured a stainless steel bezel graduated to 300 units per hour —years later the bezel was changed to 200 units per hour— and the dial didn't make any allusion to 'Daytona', the home of car racing in the U.S.

In 1965, when ref. 6240 was presented, the dial configuration had changed from 'Cosmograph' to 'Oyster Cosmograph', the pushers were changed from pump to screw-down, its water resistance was improved and the bezel changed from solid stainless steel to a bezel with a stainless steel ring and a black acrylic graduated insert with numbers in white. 


Since then, there had been numerous references and changes made to this watch including changes to the case size —from 37 mm to 40 mm— and the movement. The watch was originally fitted with the manual-winding Valjoux calibre 72 and from there, it went to the automatic self-winding Zenith 400 on ref. 16520 —known as Rolex calibre 4030. Today, the Daytona is fitted with a newer and improved Rolex in-house movement calibre 4130. With all of its variations, the Daytona is a watch with perhaps the most fascinating and difficult to master history in the horological world. Every time we think we've read it all, there's a new article being published with another interesting set of facts regarding this timepiece.

By the way, a great source for information on rare, unusual Rolex watches including extremely rare Daytonas is Stefano Mazzariol's blog. 

Today, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is still as timeless and classic as it was 50 years ago. Its coveted white dial makes watchlifestylers travel around the world for one, pay special premiums over the retail price and even put their names on prepaid waiting lists for one. In reality, if you are in the know and you are a watchlifestyler with a good network of collectors, finding one is way easier than what most people think.

Now, if you want to get a rare vintage piece like a Rolex Cosmograph Yacht Master ref. 6242 or a ref. 6263 'Albino', then you really need to dig underneath the stones or you can call one of your close friends in Firenze, Roma, Napoli or Livorno.  

Photo: Stefano Mazzariol Blog

Photo: Stefano Mazzariol Blog

For now, the images on this fantastic Rolex Daytona ref. 116520 should be good enough to put a big smile on your face.

Sticker Price $12,000 USD. For more info on Rolex click here.