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A Week On The Wrist The Rolex Daytona Ref. 116500LN

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona addresses many various things to many various individuals, however quite possibly the most common reactions to the watch is frustration, at least in case you’re talking about the steel-on-steel reference 116500LN. How this came to be is a story that returns decades, all the way to the year 1963, when the principal Cosmograph chronograph was presented. The main Cosmograph, the ref. 6239, wasn’t a hit straight out of the gate for Rolex – in fact, it sold lazily from the get go. Regardless of the fact that chronographs were, during the 1960s, becoming an increasingly important category of watches for a company to have in its portfolio, the Cosmograph was, if not an odd one out among swans, certainly not the beauty queen that it is today.

Over the decades, the watch has changed, both without question and in certain regards not in the least. There is a clear plan congruity between the ref. 6239 and the latest models. Perhaps the most reliable traits of Rolex as a company is how much that coherence exists between quite a bit of their present catalog and many watches from the company’s past. Nonetheless, in the 57 years between the launch of the 6239 and the composition of this story, the watch has gone through a gigantic technical development as well, making the new form of the Daytona the most advanced chronograph Rolex has at any point created – by a considerable margin.

The Daytona today is encircled by an almost impenetrably thick persona. It’s so in demand that getting one from an authorized retail requires either a long-standing relationship or a huge amount of patience (or both, contingent upon what your identity is) and purchasing a used model is restrictively costly for many for whom this would be, at normal retail costs, a tolerable consumption. That it is famously hard to obtain one would just without help from anyone else be sufficient to make enthusiasts feel a fascination not experienced for watches all the more easily obtained – it is after all an axiom that nothing energizes want like being advised you can’t have something. Be that as it may, there is also the collectibility of vintage Rolex Daytona watches. Anyone simply getting keen on vintage watches nowadays before long discovers that, except if you have incredibly profound pockets, gathering vintage Cosmograph Daytonas is impossible at this point. 

What this means is that for anyone putting on a Daytona interestingly, it is exceptionally hard to see the watch for all the promotion. You don’t such a lot of see a stainless steel chronograph from Switzerland, as you see a watch whose reputation and desirability, both as a collectible and as a piece of virtually unobtainable extravagance watchmaking, have become so broadly realized that it has transcended its category to become a bona-fide global cultural wonder – something you can say about not many different watches, if any.

How, thusly, did the Daytona come to be what it is today, and how might the development of the watch help explain its popularity? And, most importantly, is it conceivable to encounter the Daytona not as a promotion magnet, but rather as a watch? That’s what I was expecting to sort out when I wore one for A Week On The Wrist. While we have done A Week On The Wrist with a steel-on-steel Daytona in the past – the article from Paul Boutros, from 2012, remains a reference-grade read that will set the highest quality level for AWOTW coverage for the foreseeable future – it has now been eight years since HODINKEE distributed that story. And with a ton of water under the scaffold horologically speaking, we chose to take a gander at the latest variant of the idealist’s Daytona: the steel-on-steel ref. 116500LN.

The Long Road To Fame

William Shakespeare composed that some are brought into the world great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness pushed onto them. The previous was certainly not the situation for the Daytona. Its archetype, the 6238, was delivered in fairly small numbers (for Rolex) and there is minimal about it to indicate that it would eventually wind up at the start of a lineage that would incorporate probably the most wanted, costly, and hard-to-track down watches of all time. 

A Rolex “Pre-Daytona” ref. 6238, mid-to-late 1960s.

Aside from the Rolex coronet there is little to immediately recognize the 6238 from many of its contemporaries. The watch utilized the Valjoux 72, a broadly utilized hand-wound chronograph development, which discovered its way into chronos from various brands during the same general time frame. The three-register layout with running seconds at 9:00 and a tachymeter scale on the external dial are in like manner features which, if not exactly omnipresent, can certainly be found on various other contemporary chronographs (counting, obviously, the caliber 321 Speedmasters).

There were two major changes made to the plan when the 6239 was introduced.

The first is the utilization of contrasting tones for the sub-dials – supposed “backwards” dials. The 6238 had sub-dials that were the same tone as the remainder of the dial, which made for a fairly restrained, low-contrast visual experience.

A Rolex Cosmograph 6239, from 1963.

A Cosmograph dial and bezel, from 1963. (Image: politeness John Goldberger)

The second major change was to the location of the tachymeter scale, which was moved from the dial to the bezel. 

These, certainly, were just corrective changes; technically the 6239 is virtually unchanged from the 6238 and that incorporates the proceeded with utilization of the Valjoux 72 development. Be that as it may, these two alterations dramatically changed the character of the watch. The higher contrast dial and ornamented bezel, taken together, started the Cosmograph down the path to becoming as much a plan statement and high-perceivability status image as a technical chronograph.

Rolex caliber 727/Valjoux 72. (Photograph: Courtesy ShearTime)

The “Daytona” signature was presented in 1964, and in 1965, in the reference 6240, Rolex presented screw-down chronograph pushers and a screw-down crown. While these were certainly upgrades to water resistance, the fact is that a screw-down crown isn’t naturally at home in a manually-twisted watch, and in 1988, Rolex presented the main self-winding Daytona. This was the 16520, and the development was the Rolex caliber 4030, which thusly was based on the Zenith El Primero caliber. 

Rolex caliber 4030, based on the Zenith El Primero.

The fact that Rolex requested, and began to utilize, the El Primero development in large numbers was famously liable for saving the development from becoming another Quartz Crisis-era casualty (of the three self-winding chronograph developments presented in 1969 – the primary year such developments were made available to people in general – just the El Primero is as yet being made). It is notable among watch enthusiasts that Rolex utilized the El Primero, yet it’s perhaps less surely known that the development was significantly changed for Rolex as well. The beat-rate was decreased from 36,000 vph to 28,800 vph; the date work was eliminated, and the regulating framework was significantly altered as well, including the addition of a larger balance and a Breguet overcoil balance spring. The caliber 4030 wound up swapping out about half of the original EP parts for new components.

Rolex Daytona, ref. 16520.

Finally, the 16520 presented various other plan changes. The case went up in size from 37mm to 40mm, a sapphire crystal was added, and the sub-dials had added to them a dainty external metal ring, with a contrasting tone for the running seconds, chronograph minutes, and chronograph hours tracks.

A New Millennium, A New Daytona

The year 2000 disappointed in certain regards – I mean, I really thought we’d have moonbases and jetpacks by at that point – however it was for Rolex and the Daytona, and for fans of both, a banner year. This was the year that Rolex presented its first in-house chronograph development as the new motor for the Daytona: the caliber 4130. The development launched in the reference 116520, and it was also the presentation of the Rolex Parachrom anti-magnetic balance spring. The 4130 is a cutting edge, cutting-edge plan, with a segment haggle grip, and it enhanced the 4030 out of various regards. Force hold went to 72 hours (from 54) and other plan features incorporated a full balance connect for better stun resistance, a free-sprung adjustable mass balance with Microstella timing loads (this was also a feature of the 4030), and significant upgrades in manufacturing ease and serviceability as well (to pick one of many focuses, the 4130 uses only 12 distinct kinds of screws; the 4030 utilized more than 40). 

I notice all this because over the 57 years since the Cosmograph launched, it’s become in certain significant regards an altogether different watch. A watchmaker met for Ben Clymer’s 2015 story on visiting the Rolex manufacturing facilities commented, “They (Rolex) have been discreetly enhancing the plan since the turn of the thousand years … a notable upgrade that they presented is a hairspring security block, which eliminates any conceivable danger of the lower curls of the hairspring tangling in the hairspring’s overcoil when the watch bears a hard blow. To the most amazing aspect my insight, this was a horological first. I have seen nothing like it from any other watch company. It is incredibly brilliant in its straightforwardness and it tackles its work flawlessly. While the wearer of a Daytona may never see it’s there, they would rapidly see on the off chance that it were not should the watch take a hard knock.”

A Look Inside Rolex

Rarely does Rolex allow journalists inside its hallowed halls, yet Ben had a special chance to visit the Crown back in 2015. He created an inconceivable story detailing his day there, and it happens to incorporate some great information about the caliber 4130 as well. It’s definitely justified even despite a read.

Check out the full story here.

“The greatest in disguise upgrade are playless gears in the chronograph framework. As I’m certain you already know, the vertical grasp arrangement of the 4130 eliminates the jarring start of the subsequent that can be seen on chronographs that feature a lateral grip when the chronograph is started. Playless gears take this to the following level, by eliminating backlash between gear teeth. In basic terms, backlash is a small amount of space, or ‘play,’ between the teeth of two gears that are interacting with each other, so one tooth can disengage as another tooth moves in to proceed to the transfer of energy.”

The fact that Rolex keeps on improving the designing of the 4130, and additionally that they do it largely in the background, makes an intriguing point (maybe more than one) about the company’s way of thinking. That information also underlies the fact that publicity aside, there are various horologically legitimate reasons to regard the Daytona.

Welcome To Bezelworld

The last major update to the Daytona came in 2013 – sort of. That year was the 50th anniversary of the Daytona, and there was, as you can imagine, a considerable amount of speculation about what Rolex may turn out. What the faithful got was certainly not what they were expecting. 

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Reference 116506 had a 40mm diameter in common with earlier models, yet not at all like the vintage-adjacent model many were thinking may mark five decades of Cosmograph, it was an unashamedly ultra-lavish platinum watch, on a platinum bracelet, with a chestnut earthy colored Cerachrom bezel and an “ice blue” dial.

This was actually not the primary Cerachrom bezel Daytona – that honor goes to the 2011 Everose Daytona , which had a black Cerachrom bezel – however it was certainly more talked about than its archetype. The reaction from Rolex and Daytona fans was less a submission on the accomplishment of the 50th Anniversary Cosmograph in essence, however it certainly assists with underscoring exactly how badly a steel-on-steel model was wanted. 

The Most Dangerous Game

Curious about gathering the absolute generally exhilarating and dangerous game in the realm of high-stakes horology? 

Take a glance at Reference Points: Understanding The Rolex Paul Newman Daytona.

Finally, four years ago, in 2016, the 116500LN appeared. Paul Boutros’ A Week On The Wrist took a gander at its immediate archetype, the 116520. This brings us up to the current day, and to a second that both keeps on interfacing with five or more decades of Daytona history, yet additionally to a colossal flood in the interest in, and costs paid for, vintage Daytonas. 

Now, it’s certainly obvious that the $17.75 million paid for Paul Newman’s personal Paul Newman Daytona is an attention-getting result , however it is also evident that that result would not have been conceivable without a very rabid after for Paul Newman Daytonas, yet in addition for vintage Daytonas overall. You may be slanted to excuse that outcome as an accident, and the consequence of never-to-be-duplicated circumstances. In any case, regardless of speculations that we’ve reached peak Daytona and that the vintage bubble should most likely blast, genuine examples keep on commanding costs sufficiently high to make you drop to ground in stun when you first experience them (simply ask this person – and his story is definitely not an erratic either ).

The Daytona Ref. 116500LN

The Cosmograph Daytona is right now available in the usual plethora of metals, including Everose, yellow gold, and platinum (and Rolesor, which is the model given as a prize to winning teams at the Rolex 24 endurance race ), yet the demand for all of these models set up appears to be overwhelmed by the crave the 116500LN. It is, as is commonly said, one unit of unadulterated Daytona: 904L Oystersteel case, 40mm x 12.2mm, with screw-down crowns, Cerachrom bezel, matching 904L Oystersteel bracelet, and a rundown cost of $13,150. 

First impressions may be of interest, especially as the chance to have a initial introduction of the 116500LN is a rarity. It immediately closely resembles an extremely strong piece of unit, with the immaculate machining, completing, and exactness in assembly that is characteristic of basically all cutting edge Rolex creation across the board. The bezel is an unmistakable part of the plan, and its exceptionally intelligent surface puts even the profoundly cleaned steel bezel of its archetype in the shade. Notwithstanding, it’s also a major improvement over steel technically, as it’s essentially scratchproof. The failure mode for ceramic is generally either cracking or fracturing inside and out, and Cerachrom is, I’m certain, something you could will do either given a sufficient hit. Yet, ceramic bezels have been around long enough at this point that, on the off chance that they really were unacceptably inclined to breaking, we’d probably know it at this point (and brands like Rolex and Omega would certainly not actually be utilizing it). 

In terms of the tachymeter markings on the bezel, various variations have been utilized by Rolex since 1963 – for the 116500LN (and other current Daytona models) we have a units-per-hour engraving at 1:00, with a measurement range from 400 to 60. The tick marks on the bezel basically duplicate those on the bezel of the 16520 – individual dabs from 400 to 200, with discontinuous marks appearing from 200 to 100, and then tick marks for individual single units from 100 to 60. On the Cerachrom bezel, the tick marks from 100 to 60 are also associated with an underline and this component, in addition to the triangular markers and fresh profundity of the numerals and markings, gives the 116500LN an advanced and marginally cutting edge feel.

The dial and hands have gotten considerably more complex (and all the more innovative) in 57 years as well. Rolex is famous for the accuracy of its dial furniture and printing (perhaps the most basic tells that you may be taking a gander at a fake Rolex is that the company invests a huge amount of energy into keeping this as exact as conceivable, and fakes have an inclination to look, especially by comparison, marginally messy, for lack of a superior word). There are a lot of dial components – the raised white-gold encompasses on the hour lists; the chronograph sub-dials have, on the black external tracks, an amazingly inconspicuous arrangement of concentric stampings; the faceted hands utilize both white lume embeds and black additions; there is obviously, a lot of duplicate. The latter is I assume, something of a liability from an unadulterated plan standpoint, yet dial “statement” text is so omnipresent a part of Rolex watch plan that one hardly sees it. 

Interestingly, notwithstanding the quantity of various plan components, the watch is very decipherable – compared to non-Cerachrom models, the 116500LN certainly feels a smidgen even more a statement watch, yet it does as such without surrendering much in basic utility and readability.

Bracelet quality proceeds with the topic of overbuilt great designing and development found in different aspects of the watch; I think Rolex keeps on making the absolute best bracelets in the business regardless of cost. It feels, notwithstanding its weight, entirely comfortable – the articulations between the connections move easily, almost as if there’s some kind of internal damping mechanism intended to make the bracelet feel more graceful. The clasp is secure as a bank vault (probably safer than some bank vaults, nowadays) and there is an easy-to-utilize and handy speedy adjustment feature, which allows you to add or subtract up to 5mm in length. 

Performance from the caliber 4130 over a one-week time frame was stellar. As we’ve already referenced, this is an excellent, chronometer-grade development with various technical properties planned to guarantee accuracy and rate stability – Rolex’s internal Superlative Chronometer standard is ±2 seconds out of each day, whereas the COSC standard is – 4/+6. The development is actually affirmed first by the COSC and then regulated to the Superlative Chronometer standard once the development is cased. I wore the watch during daily activities including walking 45 minutes a day to and from the workplace, and it sat crown up for the time being. Throughout the span of seven days, it wandered back and forward a piece among gaining and losing a second or so each day, and there was a total week by week gain of one second. There is always a certain amount of karma (or lack thereof) in individual samples, however that was I think notable, and remarkable performance nonetheless. 

The general average spec for quartz watches rushes to around 15 seconds out of each month, so that is better-than-quartz performance, at least in the event that you are comparing passage level quartz watches to the Rolex. Better quality, high-accuracy quartz watches may in any case beat it throughout several months or a year, yet it is a comfort and a gift to realize that at least where Rolex is concerned, “a cheap quartz watch is more accurate than any mechanical watch,” isn’t as certain a thing as you would think.

On The Wrist

It’s a pleasure to wear the 116500LN. Each interaction with the watch feels as in the event that somebody (probably several someones) thoroughly considered what the experience ought to resemble, and designed that aspect of the watch to deliver exactly the ideal outcome. The screw down crown and pushers engage incredibly unequivocally, and chronograph pusher feel is fresh and workmanlike. The vibe isn’t exactly as unabashedly sensual as the experience you get from a really very good quality hand-completed and adjusted chronograph, similar to the Lange Datograph, however it fits the straightforward vibe of the remainder of the watch very well. 

The weight of the watch isn’t insignificant however it’s pretty equitably dispersed around the wrist – you can wear it all day and not really notice that it is there except if you want to check the time or time something. Low-light and evening perceivability was great as well, especially thinking about the relatively small amount of brilliant material on the dial and hands. A three-register chronograph is never going to have the blazing nocturnal clarity of a decent jump watch, however I had no difficulty telling the time after dark or in faint or nonexistent lighting. 

It’s difficult to wear an advanced steel Daytona and not feel the weight (figuratively speaking) of its set of experiences and of the gigantic social statement you’re making. It is by all accounts one of those pieces that is instantly recognizable even external watch enthusiast circles. Perhaps no other Rolex has a superior chance of making an impact on somebody who isn’t a watch enthusiast per se, with the conceivable special case of a 36mm yellow-gold Day-Date. 

All this really illuminates what it resembles to wear the watch, from the get go. It’s associated with the consumption of tremendous totals at auction and obviously, there is also the undeniable pleasure, when you do wear one, of realizing that what you have on is, at least evaluated regarding market interest, substantially more elite than many far more costly watches. I would lie on the off chance that I didn’t say that gloating simply somewhat (even somewhere inside, where nobody could see the gloating) was part of the fun (tempered by the fact that I had to restore the watch, of course). 

When you previously put on the Daytona, you’re also, in this way, putting on a ton of cultural baggage, which incorporates information on its religion watch status as a current creation model, and also of its really notorious status as a 50-year-in addition to part of watchmaking history. In any case, none of that would matter on the off chance that it weren’t a watch that actually conveys on the undeniably more mundane, at the end of the day significantly more important qualities of durability, accuracy, reliability, and significant level horological engineering.

The Competition

In the current arrangement of clique status steel chronographs on a matching steel bracelet, the Daytona doesn’t have a ton of competition – this is with the caveat, obviously, that essentially anything you may take a gander at as competition is apt to be a lot easier to discover. Nonetheless, assuming you can realistically entertain the idea of purchasing a 116500LN at show, you may also be taking a gander at a watch that is in certain regards brand new, however which in different regards was brought into the world in the same era as the original Cosmograph: the Speedmaster. The Speedmaster Professional standard model, in steel, on steel, with the caliber 1861 is about half the cost of an advanced Daytona, yet in the event that you bounce up a large advance to the recently presented steel-on-steel “Ed White” Speedmaster , furnished with the caliber 321, you have a watch in the same approximate cost range –$14,100 – and in addition with a portion of the same faction watch appeal as the Daytona.

The “Ed White” caliber 321 Speedmaster in steel.

After a second’s consideration, in any case, you start to realize that these are actually rather various watches in various key regards. Most importantly, one is automatic and the other, manual, yet the more significant contrast is in the sort of watch each is attempting to be. In the Rolex, you have an altogether current mechanism and also, you have a plan which addresses, not a homage to the past, yet rather an advancement more than 50 or more years of a plan which has been steadily updated to incorporate new and better materials and development. The “Ed White” Speedmaster, then again, is deliberately and completely anachronistic in its utilization of the reawakened caliber 321, and it is totally conceivable that an all around behaved and smart enthusiast may want both (god realizes I do). You may be sufficiently fortunate to wind up in the situation of having to pick either – 14 grand in round figures ain’t sucker change – yet the choice would I believe be made somewhat easier by the disparity in value suggestion between the two watches. 

The Speedmaster Dark Side Of The Moon.

From a technical standpoint, the 116500LN is probably competing all the more intimately with the advanced, Master Chronometer-affirmed Omegas, similar to the Dark Side Of The Moon , which, with its ceramic bezel and co-axial automatic caliber 9300, improves occupation of shutting the gap with the Daytona, simply from a designing point of view, than the steel caliber 321 Speedmaster. Where the DSOTM surrenders a piece is in wearability, as it is a 44.25mm watch; in any case, it is a nearby competitor to the Rolex in other respects.

There are a couple of different prospects, however in-house, automatic chronographs under $15,000 are actually fairly uncommon as there are not that many in-house automatic chronograph developments, with many depending on various adaptations of the venerable ETA 7750 or its Sellita clones. Breitling has many, notwithstanding – many of them considerably more affordable than the Daytona and utilizing the B01 caliber. The Premiere B01 Chronograph 42 , for instance, is $8,200 on a strap however can be had on a bracelet as well. Breitling’s chronographs will in general be noticeably larger than the Daytona; Navitimers, for instance, are generally in the 46mm range. 

The Tudor Black Bay Chronograph.

And on a related note, there is the Tudor Black Bay Chronograph. That watch, on a bracelet, comes in at $5,225. The development, the caliber MT5813, is actually based on the Breitling B01 yet for certain modifications, including a silicon balance spring and free-sprung adjustable mass balance, affirmed as a chronometer by the COSC. At not exactly half the expense of the Daytona, you get, if not an all out manufacture caliber, certainly one that offers great value. The plan’s not for everybody – jump watch chronographs will in general have larger hands which can in certain positions partially block your perspective on the sub-dials, however in practice, during A Week On The Wrist in 2017 , I didn’t discover that to be a major issue in daily use. All of these watches quit any trace of something to the Daytona – contributions from Breitling and Omega will in general be notably larger (except for the non-automatic steel 321 Moonwatch), and the Black Bay Chrono has a somewhat troublesome plan and its development isn’t, carefully speaking, a completely in-house caliber. Anyway they do all offer one basic advantage over the Daytona, which is that they are generally readily available (although the 321 Speedmaster is being made in very small numbers, at least for an arrangement created watch from Omega).

Final Thoughts

The Rolex Daytona is a troublesome watch to evaluate, and I think it is highly unlikely around it – it takes time, and it should be seen and experienced face to face over the long run. That this is far more troublesome than at any other time throughout the entire existence of the watch doesn’t take away from the reality. There are such countless layers of fact, fantasy and history that have accreted over the watch, throughout the long term, that as a watch, it’s almost difficult to see it as a watch, certainly at first and for me, for quite a while after first putting it on. Perhaps it helped, eventually, and for the motivations behind this article, that it was not actually my watch – I had no particular stake emotionally in seeing it, in particular, in one light or another.

Certainly, it comes with loads of bragging rights – more than most watches, it appears liable to at least hold its value throughout the long term; you can take a great deal of pleasure in aspects of the Daytona that in the end don’t have all that a lot to do with its qualities as a watch. We purchase watches for such reasons, none of them wrong (indeed, aside from maybe for, “I really need to launder a huge number of dollars worth of poorly gotten plunder, and a watch with high resale value appears to be a great way to get cash across international lines”). There isn’t anything amiss with purchasing a watch because you like the way it looks; there isn’t anything amiss with purchasing a watch because you are a development geek or nostalgist and the mechanism speaks to you; there isn’t anything amiss with purchasing a watch because you feel damned great about having tried sincerely and adequately smart to have the option to afford it, and you want something that both reminds you done great, and tells the world too. 

Whatever your initial reasons for purchasing a watch, in any case, you will discover increasingly more about it the more you own it, and perhaps the best thing a watch can offer is that as the months and years pass by, and you assemble a set of experiences together, the watch becomes a wellspring of greater pride in proprietorship and not a wellspring of disappointment. The chances for purchaser’s regret when picking a watch are army, yet I think one about the best things about current Rolex, and about the Daytona, is that the more you do get some answers concerning it, the more probable it is that you will be happy you gotten it, and happy you own it, and not the alternate way around.

For more on the Rolex Daytona ref. 116500LN, visit Rolex online .

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