Up Close & Personal with the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

The Rolex Daytona 116520 has been seducing most watch enthusiasts since its debut in 2000 until it’s replacement model in 2016 (more about this later).  A rarity.  An icon.  A classic. 16 Years of Sweet Swiss Satisfaction.

A well-known watch blog writer cheekily comments on its nickname as the “Steel Daytona”, saying “…as is called in hush whispers among watch enthusiasts who have been familiarized with the stupendously long waiting lists and stratospheric, albeit reportedly self-inflicted exclusivity of it.”

That being said, I still love me a “Steel Daytona”, no matter how long and worth the wait is and no matter the reason for its exclusivity.  And I am proudly sporting one on my wrist at the moment.  I have said it before and I will keep saying it; #TheWatchGirl is in love!

It’s presence on your wrist or in your watch box is evident of the effort put into hunting one of these down.  The remarkable exclusivity of the Steel Daytona is likely because of its movement that was and perhaps still is very difficult and expensive to produce up to Rolex standards at steel Rolex price points – even if the Rolex Daytona 116520’s retail price has admittedly almost doubled between 2000 and 2015.

The Daytona’s history and its highly impactful design as well as its stellar movement are more than respectable.

Features include screw-down pushers, large, guarded crown, sporty tachymeter bezel, a shiny Rolex crown at 12 (one of my favourite features of this watch), three unusual sub-dials, a lot of text, and the three-link Oyster bracelet. You need not even consider some of the ridiculously in-your-face other major brands have put their name on in the early 2000s to understand why the Daytona’s low key design has aged so well.

Rolex unveiled its steel Daytona with a ceramic bezel in 2016, celebrating beyond the “sweet sixteen’ years of the steel predecessor. Now, a ceramic bezel has always been available on rose-gold models, including the platinum Daytona made for the 50th anniversary in 2013, so it’s not that surprising that this bezel is now on steel models.

Surprisingly elegant is the first impression you get when you wear the Daytona, incident light reflects off the indexes, hands and polished case of this handsomely slim watch. We found the dial, the bezel and the flat crystal, which has no non-reflective coating, likewise gleam in bright light

If you are an avid Rolex fan like me, you probably frequent their website and know where to find all the technical info on every single piece (thank you, Rolex!).  I will thus not focus on much more technical detail here. However, I should note that Rolex is celebrated for its craft and the Cosmograph Daytona is no different; Rolex mills the tachymeter scale into the ceramic and then uses the high-precision LIGA technique to inlay the recesses with platinum.

We’re fascinated with the craftsmanship here, it is so precise that you, the connoisseur, will enjoy scrutinizing the bezel through the lens of a good loupe. Craftsmanship extends to other parts of the watch too including the case, the bracelet and the hands.

“If it isn’t broken don’t change it” and this remains the case with the modern vertical coupling unchanged and it continues to guarantee a precise, shudder-free start for the chronograph’s elapsed-seconds hand. The column wheel is likewise unaltered: it helps assure that excessive force isn’t required to trigger the push-pieces.

Rolex also opted not to change its characteristic balance bridge, which boosts the stability. And the power reserve lasts for a satisfyingly long 72 hours.

Rolex unveiled its steel Daytona with a ceramic bezel in 2016. Now, a ceramic bezel has always been available on rose-gold models, including the platinum Daytona made for the 50th anniversary in 2013, so it’s not that surprising that this bezel is now on steel models.

Surprisingly elegant is the first impression you get when you wear the Daytona, incident light reflects off the indexes, hands and polished case of this handsomely slim watch. We found the dial, the bezel and the flat crystal, which has no non-reflective coating, likewise gleam in bright light.

Even though the “Steel Daytona” will always have a special place in my heart (the very first Rolex that I fell for, head over heels) I do love the benefits resulting from replacing the Daytona’s stainless-steel bezel with a ceramic one hosting a tachymeter scale. This new bezel resists scratches far better and legibility is also improved.

To sum it all up… the Daytona cements the Rolex Legacy:

  • the rate is highly accurate
  • the quality is impeccable
  • the timepiece is well suited for daily use
  • and only the slightest design changes were needed because this model had already achieved iconic status

Besides, Daytona owners like Sandra Bullock, Michael Buble, Victoria Beckham, Sophia Vergara, Rob Lowe and Brad Pitt all definitely couldn’t have gone wrong with their Rolex of choice…

So, is it worth owning? When Rolex decides to flex its muscles a bit, it can create something that will take years, if not a decade or more for the competition to catch up with, coupled with Rolex’s incredible engineering prowess and you have a classic that’ll be a looker for a long time, if not forever.

There is only one way, really. The Rolex Way.

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