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Why, in your opinion, is the Rolex Daytona such a successful watch?

Forums Rolex General Discussion Forum Why, in your opinion, is the Rolex Daytona such a successful watch?

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  • Chronograph watches in general are a very popular option in men’s watches—regardless if the chronograph function is ever used—since they have a very sporty shape. And Rolex currently only produces one chronograph model and that’s the Daytona (in several material options). So if chronographs are popular then it’s an easy leap that the leading luxury watch brand’s only chronograph collection is going to be super successful.

    However, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, the Daytona was a super slow seller back in its early years. Early models of the Daytona had 37mm cases and were manual-wound. It’s actually quite remarkable how hot the vintage Daytona market is now given how slow the Daytona’s start was. Many credit Italian auction houses for garnering interest in vintage Daytona watches by linking Paul Newman to the Daytona and dubbing the “exotic dial” versions of his Daytona as the “Daytona Paul Newman.”

    [caption id="attachment_44228" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Daytona 16520 “Zenith”[/caption]

    In 1988, Rolex finally introduced an automatic version of the Daytona (using a heavily modified Zenith El Primero movement) which also grew in size to 40mm. The new case size, the modernized dial, and the self-winding movement was the perfect combination that led to the immediate success of the new generation Daytona. The only shortcoming of the watch was that the chronograph movement of the Daytona was not fully developed in-house.

    [caption id="attachment_44229" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Daytona 116520 with an in-house movement[/caption]

    In 2000, Rolex fixed the issue with the third generation of the Daytona powered by a very good in-house made automatic chronograph movement. Since then, Rolex has offered many versions of the in-house automatic Daytona—steel, gold, platinum, with/without diamonds, on leather, on rubber, with metal bezel, with ceramic bezels, with gem-set bezels, and so on. From 2000 – 2016, the stainless steel Daytona watches were the ones to own (ref. 116520) and naturally, almost impossible to find at official retailers.

    In 2016, Rolex launched the stainless steel and ceramic Daytona (ref. 116500LN), which is yet again, supremely popular with demanding outpacing supply.

    [caption id="attachment_44230" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Daytona 116500LN with a ceramic bezel[/caption]

    So in my opinion, Rolex took a popular watch style, the chronograph, made it their own by using strong design codes, kept improving the watch over the years, supported it with heavy marketing, and eventually, the Daytona became the success it is today. Plus, let’s not forget that Paul Newman was not the only celebrity that loved the Daytona—there are tons of celebs today that wear the watch and whether we like it or not, that does fuel popularity too.

    Rolex not only boasts one of the most popular modern chronograph watches to own, but the company also lays claim to having created the most expensive watch ever sold at auction—Paul Newman’s own Daytona “Paul Newman.”







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