To celebrate 60 years of its iconic sports chronograph, Rolex unveils a new Daytona with a new case design, dial tweaks and an improved movement, the caliber 4131. For the first time in Rolex’s history, the platinum Daytona also features a sapphire display caseback. The dial has smaller hour markers and sun dial rings that hark back to the original Daytona Perpetual launched in 1988.
In 1963, Rolex unveiled the reference 6239 Cosmograph Daytona. The main difference between this and previous Oyster chronographs, that Rolex had been making since the 1930s, was the presence of a tachymeter bezel. Previously, the chronograph scales had been on the dial. Arguably the biggest transformation was in 1988, when Rolex unveiled the first automatic Daytona. The case was more inline with other sports watches from the brand at 40mm and now included crown guards either side of the crown and a scratch-resistant sapphire one. The watch was driven by a heavily modified Zenith El Primero movement, which is why these watches are now known as Zenith Daytonas. In 2000, the brand replaced the modified Zenith movement with their new in-house movement, the caliber 4130. This movement required the two sub dials to be moved a fraction higher on the dial. On top of that, the hour totalizer and running seconds sub dials switched places. Other subtle changes occurred, including larger hour markers and fatter hands.
Now in 2023, the in-house caliber has had an upgrade. The new caliber 4131 features all of Rolex’s newest movement technology, including the Chronergy escapement, Paraflex shock absorbers and a new rotor, with optimized ball bearing, that is cut out. This is particularly useful on the platinum watch that has a sapphire case back, giving a view of the new movement complete with Cotes de Geneve decoration.
The watch retains its 40mm case, which has an updated profile that gives a more angular aesthetic that is emphasized by the Cerachrom bezel which has new edging in the same material as the midcase. This gives the appearance similar to a 6263, the vintage screw-pusher Daytona with plastic bezel in a metal bezel ring.
The dial has also been reworked to have smaller hour markers and narrower sub dial rings. This is subtle, but again lends a more vintage look to the watch and reminds me very much of the first Daytona Perpetuals from the late ‘80s and 90s.
All in all, it’s a classic Rolex move. Stealthy upgrades that both delight Daytona lovers and also move the line along technically. Yes, all previous versions are now discontinued so this is truly a new era for all the watches in all metals — Osytersteel, Rolesor, gold and platinum. We expect the waiting lists will also remain as long as ever.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Reference: 126500 (steel) 126503 (Rolesor) 126505/9 (Everose and white gold) 126506 (platinum) 126518 (yellow gold on Oysterflex)
Movement: Cal 4131 chronograph movement
Strap: Oyster bracelet or Oysterflex on yellow gold model
Price: £12,700 – £70,800