Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
Mar 28th 2023
Created in 1963, the Cosmograph Daytona has long since become more than a timepiece – it is an icon. Its name, inextricably linked with the famous circuit of Daytona Beach, Florida, embodies the ties between Rolex and motor sport, in particular the world’s greatest endurance races. Its legendary status owes much to its instantly recognizable dial with contrasting circles so often seen on the wrist of the actor and racing driver Paul Newman.
The city of Daytona Beach, Florida, has gone down in history as the world capital of motor racing. Races took place on its beach from 1903, and many world land speed records were broken there, the most significant culminating at 276 mph (445 km/h) in 1935.
In the United States today, Daytona Beach is still considered the ‘world centre of automobile racing’. From its headquarters there, the International Speedway Corporation oversees 13 American racetracks, including the legendary Daytona International Speedway. Daytona also hosts the governing bodies of NASCAR and Grand-Am.
Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the World Land Speed Record nine times between 1924 and 1935, setting five of them on the beach at Daytona. He also set four world water speed records. Known as the ‘King of Speed’ and knighted by King George V for his feats, in 1935 Sir Malcolm became the first man to break 300 mph (482 km/h) at the wheel of his famous Bluebird on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
From 1930 onwards, Campbell had been wearing a Rolex Oyster, and it was on his wrist during this record-breaking exploit. He thus became the first Rolex Testimonee in motor sport.
When it was inaugurated in 1959, the Daytona International Speedway was the fastest racing circuit in the United States, and one of the first Super Speedways in the world. From the beginning, its founder, William France, Sr, wanted to make the new track more than just the most important venue for NASCAR races. He also wanted it to be an international benchmark.
William France, Sr, invented a revolutionary concept by building a road racing course on the infield of the giant speedway to host sports car and motorcycle races, combining a classic track and a unique oval with banked turns. This innovative approach brought about the race that would become the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, one of the most prestigious endurance races in the world, alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It gave the American racetrack its international status.
The first edition of the race, under the name ‘Daytona Continental’, took place in 1962, one year before the launch of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. The race and the watch were practically contemporaries, and their destinies would soon become inextricably linked.
From the first editions of the Daytona Continental, the winners have received a Rolex watch in addition to the trophy. At the launch of the Cosmograph, designed for professional racing drivers, the watch naturally became the supreme prize awarded to the champion. And not long afterwards, to emphasize the brand’s connection to the American racetrack, Rolex named the model the Cosmograph Daytona.
Considered one of the greatest endurance car races in the world, the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA is held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, and runs non-stop for 24 hours, almost 12 of them at night. The only contest of its kind in North America, the race is followed by tens of thousands of enthusiastic spectators.
The best drivers in the world gather here to chase victory and win a Cosmograph Daytona, the legendary trophy of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA. Rolex has been associated with the Daytona International Speedway since 1959 and Title Sponsor of the race since 1992.
THE COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA
The true mechanics of the legend beat at the heart of this exceptional chronograph: a movement designed
and manufactured by Rolex, providing superlative performance in all circumstances. Continually perfected and enhanced over the years, the Cosmograph Daytona is the reliable and precise companion of those who choose to forge their own path.
Efficient, precise, legible, robust, reliable, waterproof and self-winding, it is also comfortable, elegant and timeless. Judging by the success and outstanding reputation of this perfect alchemy of form and function, it is considered in many respects to be the ultimate chronograph. More than 50 years after its launch in 1963, its perfection is the product of a long maturation process. Each inscription on the dial of a Rolex watch is a guarantee of performance. They were added one by one to this emblematic watch as it evolved: simply ‘Cosmograph’ at the outset, over the years ‘Oyster’, ‘Perpetual’, ‘Cosmograph’,‘Daytona’, and ‘Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified’ were added, chronicling a legend in watchmaking.
In 1963, Rolex launched a new-generation tool watch: the Cosmograph, dedicated to professional racing drivers. The singular name invented by Rolex immediately marked it out as a very different new model. The counters stood out clearly on the dial thanks to their strongly contrasting colour, black on a light-coloured dial or a light colour on a black dial. The tachymetric scale – allowing average speeds over a given distance to be measured using the chronograph seconds hand – was moved from the dial to the bezel.
Dictated by functional considerations, these features made the chronograph far more legible – one of the challenges of the time. They also gave the watch a technical and sporty look, making it instantly recognizable, and placed the Cosmograph firmly among the Professional watches – a category created by Rolex 10 years earlier, in 1953 – such as the Explorer, dedicated to explorers and mountaineers, or the Submariner, specially designed for deep-sea diving.
THE OYSTER PERPETUAL COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA
The year 2023 marks a new milestone in the evolution of the Cosmograph Daytona. Its dial displays new graphic balance with resized and restyled hour markers and counter rings. Subtle combinations of colours and finishes accentuate the contrast between the dial background and the counters and/or their rings, bringing even greater visual harmony and a more modern demeanour to the face of the watch.
Along the sides of its redesigned Oyster case, graceful lines of light are elegantly reflected. On versions with a Cerachrom bezel in ceramic, the bezel is edged with a fine band of the same metal as the middle case.
The new-generation Cosmograph Daytona is equipped with calibre 4131, 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 4131 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. Calibre 4131 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. Calibre 4131 is equipped with a self-winding system via a Perpetual rotor. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of calibre 4131 extends to approximately 72 hours.
On the version in 950 platinum, recognizable by its ice blue dial, the oscillating weight is made from 18 ct yellow gold and is visible to the wearer through the transparent case back in sapphire – a first for the Oyster Perpetual collection. 950 platinum, considered the noblest of metals, is striking for its unique luminosity.
This rare and precious metal is among the densest and most difficult to work, and is characterized by its exceptional corrosion resistance. Rolex uses only 950 platinum, an alloy consisting of 950 ‰ platinum and a specific dose of ruthenium, with meticulous finishing in-house.
Like all Rolex watches, the Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, which ensures excellent performance on the wrist.
The Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This designation testifies that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria, following the official certification of the movements by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
The in-house certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and self-winding. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that was accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone.
The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.