Rolex Daytona Cosmograph
Rolex Daytona Cosmograph Watches
The story of the Rolex Cosmograph (aka Rolex Daytona) could be called the most chaotic of all the Rolex Oyster models. Introduced in 1963, the watch never really got off the ground until the late 1980s when the market for them exploded and the watches would often sell for double the retail price in Italy. The "Paul Newman" models manufactured around 1967 were and still are the most desirable of these early Daytona models fetching prices sometimes into the six figures for very nice complete examples. The original Cosmographs would have retailed for around $150.
In 1989, Rolex replaced the manually wound Valjoux 72 based movement with an automatic Zenith El Primero based movement. During the 1990s, the Daytona was the only Rolex model not using an in-house Rolex movement, these are often referred to as ‘Zenith Daytonas’. In 2000 came the newly developed Rolex caliber 4130 with a 72 hour power reserve. The steel 116520 model retailed at $11,250. The steel Daytona was updated again in 2017 with a ceramic bezel and has become harder than ever to find at the official retail of $12,400 for the model 116500.
Production of the Daytona in steel has always been kept to a minimum. The models in precious metal or a combination of steel/gold, have historically never been in short supply except when new iterations are introduced (e.g Rose Gold in 2008, Platinum in 2013 and Rainbow in 2018).
While actual numbers are not disclosed by Rolex, most dealers keep waiting lists ranging from months to years for the steel Daytona. An authorized dealer in good standing with Rolex might only see 1 or 2 pieces a year. As a result these steel watches have consistently resold for more than retail since the 1980s to buyers wishing to skip the line.