The Rolex Submariner is one of the world’s most recognized three-handed wrist watches, but when it comes to chronograph watches, the Rolex Daytona is no doubt the most recognized wristwatch on the planet. Initially known as the Cosmograph, the Rolex Daytona evolved into being one of the most recognized respected chronographs on the market. Although Rolex had chronographs going back to 1926 with the model 2303, a single pusher chrono with two sub-dials, the modern day Rolex Daytona was released at Basel in 2000 sporting Rolex’s first in-house chronograph movement. In years past, Rolex had relied upon Zenith and Valjoux to manufacturer the base movement, which then Rolex would modify to its own specifications.
What makes the Rolex Daytona so desirable? The Rolex Daytona has been described as the pinnacle of form and function. The iconic shape of the case with three concentric sub-dials placed proportionally within a 40mm watch face gives the watch a feeling and a look of perfect balance. The lugs on the watchcase are slightly thinner on the right side of the case to counteract the extra visual weight of pushers and winding crown providing visual balance.
Adding to the Daytona’s mystique are the screw-down chrono pushers. The screw down pushers must be unscrewed in order to operate the chronograph functions and were added to insure that they were water tight at 100 meters similar to Rolex’s patented screw-in TripLock crown. The Daytona is Rolex’s only model with screw-down pushers as their YachtMaster II chronograph does not use screw down crowns, yet is rated to 100 meters as well. Many other chronograph manufacturers do not use screw-down pushers but claim their watches are water tight to 100 meters. Either way, Rolex’s screw-down pushers are one of the many standout features that make the Daytona stand separate from the rest.
The Rolex Daytona dial is clean, proportional and possesses Rolex’s attention to detail. Although the subdial hands are small, they are easily visible against the contrasting background. The dial markers are also small, but still easy to read. Setting the gold Daytona’s separate from other models are red-subdial hands only found on the 18ct gold Rolex Daytonas.
The MovementThe modern Rolex Daytona 4130 movement comprises of 290 fewer parts than other chronographs of its class. The post-2000 Rolex 4130 movement utilizes a column wheel to activate the chronograph functions. The primary advantage of a column wheel combined with a vertical clutch is the long second hand does not rock backwards upon activation as some ETA based-chronograph movements do. The fewer parts also allows for more space by the mainspring barrel, extending the power reserve from 50 to 72 hours. The older Zenith movements found in pre-2000 Daytona’s are easily identified by the sub-dials being on the same plane as the watch crown. The 4130 Daytona movement has the sub-dials just above the center horizontal axis of the watch.
The Daytona is one of the Rolex’s first watches utilizing the Paracrom Blu hairspring. Parachrom Blu is Rolex’s in-house hairspring material able to withstand 10 times more shock and withstand magnetism better than the average Swiss hairspring. Parachrom Blu combined with Rolex’s free-spring balance wheel makes the Daytona one of the most robust chronographs ever made
The Rolex Cosomograph Daytona long pedigree is still evolving and many hypothesize that the Daytona is the next watch in the Rolex lineup looking to get a facelift despite the 50th anniversary platinum version being released a few years ago. Only time will tell…
– Sheldon Smith