The History of the Rolex Daytona

The Daytona derives from the name of a Florida City which started to attract motorists attempting to break land speed records due to the long compact beaches that surrounded the city.

Rolex became the official partner of the Daytona racetrack in the early 60s and ultimately provided the catalyst that produced one of the greatest sporting watches of all time.

The Daytona became very popular amongst motorsport drivers, in particular, Sir Malcolm Campbell who, at that time, held the outright World Land Speed Record. The watch was incredibly popular with racing drivers as it allowed them to both calculate speed and measure time accurately.

It was only in 1963 when it was formally known as the Rolex Daytona, changing from its previous identity as the Cosmograph, due to a nickname given to the watch based upon Rolex’s relationship with the Florida Daytona Racetrack.

Towards the late 1960s was when actor and racer Paul Newman started to endorse the Daytona watch, wearing it at any given opportunity both on and around the racetrack and ultimately becoming one of the watches’ first ambassadors.

The Rolex Daytona’s popularity when it first arrived on the scene to what it is now, is almost incomparable. In its earliest days the watch was struggling to sell, whereas now, it is all watch collectors’ dream to have one within their pre-owned watch collection.

Pre-owned watch collectors’ lust after the first set of Daytona’s so much because of the exclusivity of owning one. Due to the fact they weren’t so popular, not many were placed into commercial circulation and so their value became astronomical compared to what you would pay for a new Rolex.

The second generation of the Rolex Daytona didn’t arrive until the late 80’s when they switched away from the physical wind-up movements and included automated self-winding mechanisms.

The third generation arrived in the Early 2000s which saw Rolex deploy their first in-house chronograph, this set alight the brand and propelled the collection as we know it today.

The Rolex Daytona has an incredibly rich history, one of which is well-known to every second-hand luxury watch collector. Many watch collectors lucky enough to own an early generation Daytona have possibly been told stories by family members passing their watch through generations, about the rich heritage of their watch.

It wasn’t the market-leading watch we currently see today, and it has taken an awful long time for Rolex to brand their long-term vision on the product.

For those of you who are interested in the current value of the first Rolex Daytonas, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona was sold at auction for over $17.5 million in 2017 and is known to be one of the most expensive watch sales in history.

So, for all you pre-owned watch collectors, it may well be worth keeping an eye out for one.

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