We’ve become accustomed to Rolex making minor changes every year, which they then showcase at Watches and Wonders. It goes without saying that this year was no different, however, Rolex have delivered the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona that everyone, including me, didn’t quite expect to see. Ever since the Daytona 6240, 6241 and ultimately the 6263 that sported the ever fragile but seemingly downright cool, acrylic black bezel – Rolex owners had been crying out for something similar from Rolex, and in 2016 they delivered. For 2023, Rolex also delivered something special for the 60th anniversary but it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. That said, this weekend, Rolex shocked the watch community by releasing a 100th anniversary Daytona for the 24-hours Le Mans race.
So, what have Rolex changed to celebrate this 100th anniversary of the Le Mans race? This new piece still features a black Cerachrom tachymetre bezel but there are a couple of other subtle changes they may go unnoticed by some. Looking closely, you’ll notice the number “100” on tachymeter scale has been highlighted in red – this has been done to evoke the race’s centenary. Furthermore, peering at the dial you’ll notice Rolex have gone for the full reverse-panda dial layout. But wait, there’s more. If you are a regular reader here, you’ve likely seen us post countless articles on the “exotic dial” Daytona, also known as the “Paul Newman” Daytona. Rolex, after many years, have chosen to reacquaint us with this exotic dial, a detail that can be seen in the stark contrasting white sub dials – making this new Dayton truly standout. However, eagle-eyed readers will notice there is a 24-hour totaliser instead of the standard 12-hour one – a nod to the 24hr Le Mans race.
This new Daytona is made from 18ct white-gold and as standard, comes on an Oyster bracelet that incorporates a neat little 5mm comfort extension link. Inside though, is the new calibre 4132 automatic chronograph movement. The new-generation Cosmograph Daytona is equipped with calibre 4132, a chronograph movement unveiled this year, entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A distillation of technology, this self-winding mechanical movement delivers outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, convenience and reliability. It incorporates a chronograph function with a reduced number of components, thereby also enhancing the movement’s reliability. It is engaged by a robust mechanism with a column wheel and vertical clutch, allowing an instantaneous and extremely precise start. The bridges of calibre 4132 feature a Rolex Côtes de Genève decoration, which differs from the traditional Côtes de Genève by the addition of a slight polished groove between each band.
The new calibre 4132 incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, this escapement is resistant to strong magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with a blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. The hairspring offers great stability in the face of temperature variations as well as high resistance to shocks. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is mounted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance. The oscillating weight is fitted with an optimized ball bearing. The calibre 4132 is equipped with a self-winding system via a Perpetual rotor made of 18ct yell0w-gold, which is visible via a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback.
Back in March, when Rolex released the new 2023 Daytona – I remember thinking they could’ve done more, I even remember saying and I quote “one other detail that would’ve have been nice to see Rolex resurrect, is the full white on black and black on white sub dials but who knows, maybe Rolex are making us wait just that little bit longer?”. Doesn’t happen often but it would appear I was right. No one saw this coming, but it was a reminder as to why Rolex are Rolex. The use of a full reverse-panda dial and exotic sub dials is not just a massive nod to their past but also one that reminds us of their connection to motor racing and most importantly where the Cosmograph Daytona resides in a cultural context. Lest we forget, Paul Newman wasn’t only a fan of the Cosmograph Daytona but also an avid racing driver – who competed at Le Mans, so this 100th anniversary Daytona is a fitting watch to celebrate this moment in time.
The new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 126529LN is priced at £43,300 and will be available to purchase from 1st July. More information is available on rolex.com.