The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona – A timing device of superior stature12:09 pm
“Efficient, precise, legible, robust, reliable, waterproof and self-winding.” Also, the most timeless, coveted and prestigious watch ever made from the undisputed leader in luxury watchmaking. And may we add to that by saying that it’s one of the most exclusive chronographs ever produced. The demand is so high that most models have a waiting list. Calling the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona anything less than “the ultimate chronograph” would be disrespectful to the watch, and its illustrious and legendary past.
Rolex and the Racing World
The world capital of “Speed”, the city of Daytona, Florida USA, has gone down in history as the sanctuary of motorsport, and oddly this tradition began on the coast of the beach. Between 1905 and 1935, the sand beach in Daytona has seen many landmark speed records been made and broken, time after time. Coincidentally, 1930 was also when Rolex had begun building and manufacturing some of their first, super secure Oyster cases which also earned them a reputation of building some of the most versatile and reliable sports watches. Rolex developed their first, single button push chronograph for these races, which was worn and tested by the brand’s first ambassador and highly acclaimed motor racer, Sir Malcolm Campbell.
“Nothing less than absolute precision can satisfy men who set out to create records.”
Sir Malcolm Campbell, one of the most successful motor racers of all time, was a British national but came frequently to the United States to test his skills at Daytona and kept setting one world speed record after another. It might seem a little strange today, but back then Sir Campbell would set these records driving on the actual beach, on the sand, as seen below:
And his testimonial was what led to the beginning of Rolex’s tryst with motorsport. The Oyster Chronograph was worn and tested in obviously extreme conditions and it performed flawlessly. Over the course of it being tested by Sir Campbell himself, the watch alone became a holder of 25 world records in terms of precision! And with time, the watch became a symbol of accuracy in hard and testing conditions.
The word ‘Daytona’ though, was added many years later to the Chronograph. 1965 saw the Daytona name finally appearing on the dial with absolutely new design elements that are there on the watch even today, one of them being the outer tachymeter bezel.
Rolex registered the name Cosmograph in 1953. Back then, ‘Cosmograph’ was used on their Moonphase watches until 1956, when they discontinued the complication entirely. Rolex did call their chronograph watches simply “Chronograph” with their old, 2 sub-dial models. They began using Cosmograph on their newer, three column Chronographs. So ‘Cosmograph’ today is simply Rolex’s own designation to its chronograph watches.
The Ultimate Chronograph
Coming back to its latest offing (Reference – 116520), the highly reliable, in-house caliber 4130 isn’t your average Chronograph movement either. Keeping up with the tradition of perfectly measuring speeds whilst being exposed to the most extreme conditions, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona can measure average speeds up to 400 kilometers or miles per hour using the tachymetric scale on the bezel as a reference – to as close as 1/8th of a second. And while we’re talking about the chronograph let’s just say using it is as joyful as any premium Chrono watch out there. The tactile feel whilst operating each pusher is crisp and reassuring, with just the right amount of tension you would expect from a well-made machine. The pushers can be screwed down (just like the crown) to guarantee waterproofness up to 100 meters.
The watch has 3 silver metallic-ringed sub-dials: small seconds hand at 6 o’clock, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, done on a clean white dial and cased in the famous Oyster case with the Oyster bracelet done in 904L stainless steel – a super alloy that ensures the watch remains extremely resistant and highly polishable even in the harshest environments.
The overall steel finish and classic design of the dial obviously make this an extremely noticeable timepiece considering how many other watchmakers have been somewhat ‘inspired’ by the look of the Daytona over the years.
“The sum of these changes evolved the Daytona from a functional, subdued tool watch to an impressive statement piece.”
The most desired
Not surprisingly, the Cosmograph Daytona, till date remains as the most desirable and exclusive chronograph watch of the world. With a long list of admirers still waiting for an opportunity to purchase one, you can have yours at Ethos Watch Boutiques (for as long as it’s there).
(Image courtesy: Rolex)
Features Writer, The Watch Guide
Rahul is a watch and sports lover currently living in New Delhi. Having worked as a journalist and a copywriter previously, he is now thrilled to be a part of a team that loves, lives and breathes wristwatches. After joining Ethos and The Watch Guide team, his interest for the world of horology grew and is now completely and hopelessly hooked on watches.