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A Review of the Rolex Daytona: Info, History, Reference Numbers, and Nicknames

In 1963, Rolex launched a new chronograph model called the Cosmograph. The name Daytona was soon added to the dial—a label that has remained since.

The story begins with the manual-wound Daytona ref. 6239 powered by a modified Valjoux Caliber 72 movement. The new Rolex chronograph had two chrono pushers on the 37mm case, a trio of subdials, and a tachymeter bezel. Other models followed over the next two decades including Daytona ref. 6240, Daytona ref. 6241, Daytona ref. 6262, Daytona ref. 6264, Daytona ref. 6263, and Daytona ref. 6269. While vintage Daytonas are highly coveted today, they were slow sellers during their time. Particularly popular vintage Daytona models are those nicknamed the “Paul Newman Daytona,” characterized by special Art-Deco style dials, which the actor made famous by sporting one himself.

In 1988, the course changed for the chronograph collection when Rolex unveiled the automatic Daytona ref. 16520 with a 40mm stainless steel case, Oyster bracelet, and a modified Zenith El Primero movement called Caliber 4030. Other automatic models soon joined including the yellow gold Daytona ref. 16528, the two-tone Daytona ref. 16523, the yellow gold and leather strap Daytona ref. 16518, and the white gold and leather strap Daytona ref. 16519.

Rolex unveiled a brand new stainless steel Daytona ref. 116520 in 2000, this time powered by the in-house 4130 automatic movement. Different versions later followed, such as the yellow gold Daytona ref. 1166518, the white gold Daytona ref. 116519, the two-tone Daytona ref. 116523, and others.

At Baselworld 2011, the Cerachrom ceramic bezel was introduced to the collection with the Everose rose gold Daytona ref. 116515LN. Rolex then released the platinum and ceramic Daytona ref. 116506 in 2013 and the steel and ceramic Daytona ref. 116500LN in 2015. Finally, in 2017, Rolex added three new ceramic and Oysterflex rubber bracelet models: the yellow gold Daytona ref. 116518LN, the white gold Daytona ref. 116519LN, and the Everose gold Daytona ref. 116515LN.

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