History of the Rolex Daytona

Rolex Daytona Watches

British “Speed King” Sir Malcolm Campbell broke five land speed records on Florida’s Daytona beach. He was the first man to break the 300 miles per hour barrier.  Also, he did so wearing a Rolex Oyster. In fact, Rolex Daytona history shows Rolex’s vision was aligned with the Chronograph as a “must have” for the sports watch enthusiast.  Because as auto racing grew, so did the need for a timepiece which could measure speed and time laps.

A Precise Tool Watch

Rolex had been producing wrist chronographs since the early 1930’s. However, by the end of the decade, they launched the first Oyster Chronograph with an Oyster water resistant case and a tachymeter scale on the outer dial. This was the first step in developing a robust and precise tool watch useful for the auto racing world.


Rolex Daytona Milestones

1963 Rolex introduces the first Cosmograph with a Tachymetric scale engraved on the bezel.
1965 Rolex adds screw-down push buttons and a metal bezel with a black plastic insert to the Cosmograph (Reference 6240).
1966 Rolex produces the first “Daytona” variant of the Cosmograph as a Reference 6241 available in stainless steel, as well as 14 ant 18 ct. gold. Both the 6240 Cosmograph and the 6241 Cosmograph Daytona would be produced until 1969.
1970 Rolex introduces two new Cosmograph Daytona models – Reference 6262 and Reference 6264 (available in stainless steel, 14 and 18ct gold). Reference 6262 had a graduated bezel with 200 units per hour.
1971 Rolex introduces the Cosmograph Daytona References 6263 and 6269 with screw-down push buttons.
1988 Rolex introduces the new Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Chronometer Reference 16520 in stainless steel featuring a 40mm case and sapphire crystal. and the new Zenith El Primero 400 based Rolex caliber 4030.
1992 Rolex introduces the new Reference 16518 Daytona in yellow gold with a leather strap.
2000 Rolex introduces their new entirely in-house produced chronograph caliber 4130 and with it launches the Cosmograph Daytona Reference 116520 in stainless steel. A white gold model, (Reference 116519) yellow gold model (Reference 1166518), and bi-metal (gold and stainless steel Reference 116523) all receive the new in house chronograph caliber.
2011 Rolex introduces a new Daytona Reference 116515with a pink gold 40mm case and a Cerachrom bezel.