The Rolex Daytona
The Rolex Daytona is Rolex’s answer to a drivers watch. Rolex has always been the leader is specialty sports watches and the Daytona is no different. The cosmograph Rolex Daytona was designed for the professional race car driver and even 50 years after its first production it is still joined in name and function to this fast paced motor sport. The Rolex Daytona began production in 1963. While the case design has always looked similar, the first series is hand-wound while the second series introduced a self-winding automatic movement and the third series brought the production of the movement home to Rolex. Rolex has always preferred to design and manufacture their own parts and movements.
The first series sported an “exotic” variant dial now known as the “Paul Newman”, named after the famous actor and race enthusiast. He received the watch as a gift from his wife, Joanne Woodward, and he helped to build the popularity of the Daytona by wearing it consistently during his racing career.
The Rolex Daytona is a little different than many of the other models of Rolex sports models as it had several models that were Daytona but not. These models are referred to as the “Pre-Daytona” and are the rarest of all Daytona models. There have been 3 series of Rolex Daytonas made to date. The “Pre-Daytona” models of course are from the first series. While similar in many features we know and love in the Rolex Daytona there were a few subtle differences. First the “Pre-Daytona” models have a manual wind movement instead of the standard automatic movements. These models were not marked with Daytona on the dial, instead they were marked simply chronograph. While these models used the standard oyster case and band the movements were produced by an outside manufacturer. These movements were produced by Valjoux and was designated caliber 72. These movements once purchased were reworked by Rolex and was referred to as the Rolex 727 caliber. These movements were extremely accurate and durable, and was certified as a chronometer. These models were produced from 1963-1988. The “Pre- Daytonas” were produced with monotone sub-dials in a color designed to contrast with the main dial color. For instance the black dial had silver sub-dials to make it easier to read.Model number 6238 was an exception and had a monotone dial and a tachymeter within the crystal. There are a few rare “albino” variants of the Daytona where sub-dial colors match the main dial similar to the 6238. The first recognized “Albino style Daytona” was owned by Eric Clapton. It was in 1964 Rolex finally added “Daytona” to the dial just below the 12 o’clock, so the “Rolex Cosmograph” was moved just above the 6 o’clock (hours) sub-dial by 1967. In 1965 Rolex released the “exotic” or as they are better known the “Paul Newman”dial. These are the most well known and a sought after dials of all the Daytona dials. Paul Newman wore his Rolex Daytona everyday after it was given to him by his wife Joanne Woodward. It had an inscription on the back side of the case that read “Drive Carefully Me”. While many of these models came with the oyster band, Paul Newman wore his on a leather military style strap. He wore this watch through his racing career until 1984 when he replaced it with model number 6263. After he received his new Daytona, also a gift from his he gifted his original Daytona to his daughters boyfriend James Cox. His new Daytona had the inscription “Drive Slowly Joanne”.