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All About the Rolex Daytona

May 17, 2021

All About the Rolex Daytona

Rolex is an identifiable brand that exudes luxury. To own one is an immediate marker of prestige, success, and good taste. It’s one of our favorite products to buy at Samuelsons – and in fact, we recently acquired a beautiful two-tone Rolex Daytona 116523, which will make for a stunning addition to any watch collection. 

But where did the name come from? And what makes it one of the most desirable Rolex sport watches? 

Well, for starters, the watch itself was designed for professional race drivers. Rolex had been named the official timekeeper of the recently opened Daytona International Speedway in 1962. A year later, Rolex introduced the Cosmograph, which was the first version of the Daytona, ref. 6239. At the time, Rolex was known for its sporting timepieces that served  specific communities: the Submariner for the diver, the Explorer for the outdoorsman, and the GMT for pilots. The new addition to Rolex’s sporting collection allowed race car drivers to measure elapsed time and read average speeds on its trademark bezel – perfect for those on the racetrack.

In 1965, Rolex officially added the name Daytona to the watch itself, in honor of the international speedway where Rolex was the official timepiece. Today, first-place finishers of the 25 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona races receive a brand new Rolex Daytona along with their trophy. Yet it wasn’t until Paul Newman came on the scene in the 1960s that the Rolex Daytona took off.

As a racecar driver in the 1969 drama, “Winning,” Paul Newman wore a Rolex Daytona in both the film and during photo shoots. The watch embraced the image of high society and success: it was a watch for winners. Newman was a Rolex enthusiast, who had a collection of Daytona timepieces that he regularly wore. In 2017, his Rolex Daytona ref. 6239 sold for nearly $17.8 million, making it the most expensive Rolex ever sold. 

The Rolex Daytona has become one of the world’s most famous and favorite timepieces – a watch that every collector wants to have in their collection. Yet buyers and collectors alike find them hard to come by, regardless of age. Like all Rolex watches, there are only a limited number of them produced each year, which means there’s an even smaller number of vintage timepieces up for grabs. 

In fact, the secondary market for a Rolex Daytona is so large that retailers actually keep a waiting list of prospective buyers for when that opportunity comes along. Should you walk into a store that sells Rolex watches, you likely won’t find any vintage Daytona models on display. That’s part of what makes acquiring a vintage Rolex Daytona so exciting! Not to mention, they are an incredible investment. Vintage Rolex models often go for significantly more than their retail price due to their exclusivity. At Samuelson’s, we’ve paid into the six figures for a beautiful vintage Daytona timepiece. 

We’re privileged to share in the rich tradition of Rolex and to help collectors find and sell their timepieces. To see our collection of Rolex watches, make an appointment or view our collection online at Etsy or 1st Dibs. If you are looking to sell your Rolex, why not connect with us so we can give you the best offer you will find in the DMV area? Get in touch with us to learn more! 

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