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History of Rolex Daytona
26 Jul 2021

History of Rolex Daytona

In this article brought to you by Atlanta Luxury Watches, we take a look at the storied history of the Rolex brand’s iconic chronograph watch, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. A quick plug before we get started: If you are interested in purchasing a Rolex Daytona or selling your timepiece, then stop by our Atlanta Luxury Watches location to take a look at our selection or get an offer on your watch. That said, let’s run through the near-60-year history of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.

Original Series

When you read “Daytona,” you might think of Daytona, Florida, home of the famed Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in NASCAR. This is no coincidence. Rolex has been involved in the racetrack directly or indirectly since the early days of NASCAR. In fact, Sir Malcolm Campbell of Great Britain, a successful racer, wore Rolex watches both on and off the racetrack in the 1930s. However, it was 1962 when Rolex first served as Daytona’s official timekeeper. To mark the occasion, Rolex introduced, in 1963, the Cosmograph Reference 6239 as the first chronograph from Rolex nicknamed “Daytona.”

This original series produced from circa 1963 to the late 1980s had a four-digit reference number and a manual wind movement, which distinguish the original series from the later two series which are self-wound. The first version of the first series, the Reference 6239 did not have enhanced water resistance, but the “Oyster” features were introduced in the Reference 6240.

Second Series

The original series of the Rolex Daytona was in short supply by the early 1990s which played into the introduction of the second series in 1988. The second series uses a modified automatic winding movement originally designed in 1969 and remains the highest vibrations per hour at 36,000 VPH. However, Rolex modified the movement and reduced the beats to 28,800 VPH to increase the power reserve.

Further, the second series Daytona used a sapphire crystal as opposed to the acrylic crystal in the original series; the case diameter grew to 40mm from the original 37mm; the dials were made glossy; and the sub-dials were now mostly the same color as the dial. Finally, the second series used a five digit reference number as opposed to the four digit number on the original series.

Third Series

The third series was introduced shortly later in 2000 with six digit model numbers. The third series has very few differences. Externally, the dials are different. The two sub-dials at the three and nine o’clock positions were moved slightly above an imaginary line drawn between the three and nine o’clock chapters. Further, the running seconds sub-dial was moved from the nine o’clock position to the six o’clock position. These six digit Daytonas are certified, self-winding chronometers with chronograph functions.

View Our Selection of Timepieces

If you appreciate the history of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, then come down to Atlanta Luxury Watches to take a look at our selection of watches. We are even ready to give you an offer on your timepiece. We look forward to seeing you.