Frankly speaking, Rolex Antique Daytona watches never were included in my watch collecting, because they’re too expensive. I just have the experience that I saw several pieces at the auction and tried wearing them. I’m interested in wristwatches, and I get used to take notes on them. To write the article, I referred to some data on Rolex Daytona collection and added some of my opinions.

I consider the Daytona watches that were born before 1988 as antique Daytona watches, and the sizes include 36.5mm, 37mm and 37.5mm. It’s in 1988 that Cosmograph Daytona was changed into a bigger size, 40mm. It’s in 1988 that the Daytona started to be equipped with in-house automatic movement. What’s more, Rolex Cosmograph Daytona made celebrities from all over the world crazy about it, and the craze has continued for 30 years. I begin to tell its story from that year when the new generation of Rolex Daytona – Cosmograph Daytona was born.


The Cosmograph Daytona for 36.5mm was equipped with Valjoux 72B with Microstella balance wheel, Breguet balance spring, kif shock protection and a numbered mainboard. It was the first time that tachymeter scales had been moved to the bezel from the dial. Watch collectors call this model the first tachymeter with 275 scales. The part at 6 o’clock of the early Daytona dial was engraved with “Swiss”. The first batch of the Daytona Chronograph watch Ref. 6239 had case backs engraved with 6238, showing a heritage of Daytona watch Ref. 6238.


Rolex became the official timepiece for auto racing in America.


“Daytona”still was above the 12-hour counter, but it became bigger. The dial bore“Oyster”under the“ROLEX COSMOGRAPH” and “T Swiss T”at 6 O’clock. The Daytona Chronograph watch was still equipped with Valjoux 72B. Reference 6240 used screw-in buttons made of cooper and nickel to guarantee water resistance. Its bezel made of black Plexiglas features white scales.

Paul Newman Ref. 6239

The Paul Newman Daytona in gold Ref. 6239 had tachymeter with 200 scales instead of 300 scales. On October 26th, 2010, Paul Newman’s personal Paul Newman Daytona sold for a record-breaking $17.75 million, making it the most expensive wristwatch ever sold.
Features of Paul Newman Daytona:
1. Small sub-dials stick-shaped scales whose inner ends are decorated with small square.
2. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock displays 15/30/45/60 scales.

Daytona watch was equipped with Valjoux 727, water resistant to 50 meters.
Oyster winding crown applied to Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.
Due to the expired patent, the lugs were engraved with “Orig Rolex Design instead of “Registered Design”.
Rolex finished the first technical improvement for all products. Reference 6263 and 6265 were water resistant up to 100 meters.

Ref. 16520

At that year’s Baselworld Fair, Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 16520 was launched with cal.4030 based on Zenith El Primero. Available in steel edition and steel&gold edition. Thanks for sapphire crystal and bigger watch case, new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona made a hit, and its price were rising at that time.

Cal. 4130

Rolex declared Daytona 16520 would quit and produce new edition reference 116520 with cal.4130.

Reference 116519 had a meteorite dial on which bore Roman numeral hour markers.

Ref.116598 SACO

To all people’s surprise, Rolex should launch Daytona Ref.116598 SACO with 36 baguette-cut yellow diamonds. Its dial and watchband were printed with leopard patterns, so the watch are called “Rolex Leopard Daytona”.
Rolex started to use stiff and scratch ceramic bezel.
The first Daytona Ref. 116505, 18K Everose gold, came with Oyster watch bracelet with Oyster clasp and super luminescent material.

Ref. 16515

The Daytona Ref. 16515 in 18K Everose gold has increased high-tech ceramic bezel.

Ref.116598 RBOW

Rolex launched Cosmograph Daytona yellow gold Ref.116598 RBOW and white gold Ref.116599 RBOW.

Ref. 16506

To celebrate the 50th anniversary, Rolex launched Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 16506 with an ice blue dial and a brown ceramic bezel.

At 2017 SIHH, Rolex launched Cosmograph Daytona in yellow gold, white gold and Everose gold equipped with black rubber watchband wrapping titanium/nickel alloy sheet.

2018’s Daytona watch is similar to the model in 2012. I leave their differences to you.