The Rolex Daytona — An Icon of Racing Time

5 min readJun 7, 2024


Have you always wanted a Rolex Daytona? Now’s your chance as Altr is thrilled to announce its first raffle; an exceptional opportunity to own a piece of horological history: a new-old-stock Rolex Daytona 116500 from 2021.

In 2016, Rolex continued to innovate within its iconic Daytona line by introducing the reference 116500, notable for its state-of-the-art ceramic Cerachrom tachymeter bezel. This model also introduced new dial layouts while adhering to the classic formula of the 40mm steel automatic Daytonas, combining modern advancements with timeless design.

The raffle prize, an as-new example from 2021, features a striking white dial with black sub-dials and cherry red “DAYTONA” text. Powered by the automatic calibre 4130 movement, this 40mm steel watch comes with a steel Oyster bracelet and a folding steel clasp. It includes the original inner and outer boxes, guarantee card, booklet, wallet, and calendar, making it a pristine and complete set for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

The History of the Rolex Daytona

In 1963, Rolex introduced the reference 6239 Cosmograph Daytona, marking a significant evolution in their chronograph offerings. Unlike previous Oyster-cased chronographs dating back to the 1930s, the 6239 featured a tachymeter bezel, moving the chronograph scales from the dial to the bezel. This model was characterized by its ‘pump-pushers,’ which lacked a locking mechanism and thus were not sufficiently waterproof, omitting the ‘Oyster’ designation on the dial. The 6239 also introduced the sporty, contrasting dials that are now iconic to the Daytona series, with black dials and white sub-dials or vice versa. In 1966, Rolex expanded the Daytona line with the reference 6241, featuring a black plastic tachymeter bezel.

An early Rolex 6239 Daytona (Photo: Monaco Legend Group)

In 1970, the transitional pump-pusher Daytonas, references 6262 and 6264, debuted with steel and plastic bezel inserts, respectively. These rare models replaced the manual wind calibre 72 with the improved calibre 727 movement and were produced for only a brief period. The 1960s also saw the introduction of the ‘exotic dials,’ now famously known as ‘Newman dials’ after actor Paul Newman, who sported a reference 6239 with such a dial. These featured unique number fonts, contrasting chapter rings, and red seconds markings. A notable milestone in the Daytona’s history was the 2017 auction of Paul Newman’s personal Daytona, which sold for a record-breaking $17.8 million.

A Rolex 6240 ‘Solo’ Daytona (Photo: Monaco Legend Group)

In 1965, Rolex unveiled the reference 6240 with screw-down pushers, enabling the use of ‘Oyster’ on the dial. However, the full transition from pump pushers to screw-down pushers didn’t occur until the early 1970s with the launch of references 6263 and 6265. These models, featuring plastic and metal bezels respectively, continued the use of larger crowns and fine knurling on the pushers. The screw-pusher Daytonas, produced until the late 1980s, offered a variety of dials, with the ‘Newman’ dials, especially the ‘Panda’ and ‘Oyster Sotto’ configurations, remaining highly coveted by collectors.

The Daytona Perpetual

In 1988, Rolex launched the first automatic Daytona, reference 16520. This model featured a 40mm case with crown guards and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Powered by a heavily modified Zenith El-Primero movement, these ‘Zenith Daytonas’ are considered the last Rolex watches with chronologically accepted dial variations. The reference 16520’s dials are categorized into eight versions, known as Marks 1 to 8. Early examples, particularly those with a glossy ‘porcelain’ finish and a ‘floating’ COSMOGRAPH text, are extremely rare and highly sought after. The second version of the dial, which uniquely featured only four lines of text, is another prized variant among collectors.

Rolex 16520 Mk1 Porcelain Floating Daytona (Photo: Pucci Papaleo)

The Rolex In-House Movement Daytonas

In 2000, Rolex introduced the reference 116520, featuring the brand’s new in-house calibre 4130 movement. This movement necessitated minor dial adjustments, such as the repositioning of the sub-dials and the switching of the hour totalizer and running seconds sub-dials. Over its production run, the 116520 saw subtle updates, including larger hour markers and thicker hands introduced three years into the model’s lifespan. The in-house Daytona 116520 was available with either white or black dials, with notable variations like the ‘Panna’ dials, where early white dials developed a cream hue, and the ‘APH’ dials, characterised by a gap in the word COSMOGRAPH.

116520 ‘In House’ Daytona (Photo: Christie’s)

A significant milestone in the Daytona’s history occurred in 2016, with the release of the reference 116500. This model features a ceramic bezel and maintains the calibre 4130 movement, offering a choice between black or white dials. The 116500 continues the Daytona’s legacy as a historically rich and highly coveted chronograph, making it a standout choice for enthusiasts and collectors alike.

Don’t miss out on your chance to own this exquisite Rolex Daytona 116500. Enter the Altr raffle today and add this remarkable timepiece to your collection!




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