The legendary icon of motorsport history
The Rolex Daytona has established itself as an unrivalled masterpiece of watch-making which at the same time embodies the very essence of motorsport heritage. Since its debut in 1963 through to the present day, this iconic timepiece has captivated watch lovers and racing enthusiasts alike. Designed specifically for professional racing drivers, it encapsulates the ultimate in sophistication and style. Meticulously designed to withstand the test of time, the Daytona was always geared up for success and its popularity remains undiminished. Then again, what would you expect from one of the most celebrated luxury timepieces in the world?
Timekeeping meets automotive excellence
The Daytona International Speedway in Florida plays an important role in the history of the Rolex Daytona and the thrilling world of racing. For over 60 years this world-renowned race track has hosted the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing). In the early 1960’s to honour the speedway and highlight the watch’s racing-inspired design, Rolex began to inscribe ‘Daytona’ on the dial of their Cosmograph time-keeping watches. They wanted to stress the timepiece’s utility for professional racing car drivers, as the watch featured an advanced mechanism for determining average speed by measuring elapsed time.
Rolex and motorsports: a win-win formula
Not surprisingly, Rolex’s decision to strengthen its connections to motorsports helped the company establish a strong brand identity for its watches. It has retained its reputation through perfect performance and a continuing association with premier sports and major events. By 1992, Rolex had become the title sponsor of the ‘24 Hours of Daytona’ endurance race, now commonly known as the ‘Rolex 24’. Champions of this competitive race receive a specially engraved Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona – a highly recognisable symbol of triumph!
Drive Carefully, Me
From the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona given to him by his wife, Joanne Woodward, in 1963 to the Rolex Zenith Daytona that he won as part of the GT-winning team in the 1995 Rolex 24, Paul Newman’s Rolex collection has contributed significantly to the brand’s cult status. Not least because of the inscription “Drive Carefully, Me” inscribed on the Oyster by his wife. Newman attached special significance and sentimental value to this white gold automatic chronograph with a black dial. One of three Daytona watches gifted to Paul by Joanne, it eventually sold for a record $17.8 million in 2017 – to date, the second most expensive timepiece ever sold at auction.
Highly sought-after collectibles
A vintage Rolex Daytona is more than just a beautiful timepiece; it’s also a smart future investment. Limited production contributes to the Daytona’s high value on the pre-owned market, with stainless steel references often fetching prices up to 200% of their original value. Rolex will eventually reach a point in the production of a particular model when they must unavoidably discontinue manufacturing to make room for newer models or updated versions, and in some cases, they may completely phase out a collection. For example, the blacked-out Rolex Milgauss (a favourite of Jennifer Aniston) is a recent casualty, being one of 2023’s discontinued models. Several other iconic watches have also been taken out of production and inevitably they will be joined by others in the future. These discontinued models become part of the revered family of no-longer-available Rolex watches, making them even more in demand and more valued as highly collectible items.
Race for the prize
The Rolex Daytona is an iconic watch that has maintained its prestige and appeal over the years. Recognised as a symbol of racing and speed, competitiveness and success, it serves as a lasting reminder of the brand’s track record of innovation in the sports industry and its dedication to supreme quality. The Daytona’s popularity continues to grow, attracting a dedicated, almost fanatical, community of collectors who actively seek out discontinued or limited-edition models. Pre-owned Rolex Daytona models are thus in high demand and sell quickly when they appear on the market which, for avid collectors, can be a major challenge. The good news is that someone is going to get that prized watch, and it could be you – track down your Daytona and make up for lost time!