Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A historical perspective of the Rolex Daytona

Rolex introduced its first chronograph models around 1937. In 1960, Rolex gave the chronograph line a major facelift with the introduction of the Cosmograph (model 6239), a Rolex trademarked term which is similar to the chronograph--the cosmetic difference being that the 'tachymeter scale' is printed (or engraved) on the bezel rather than on the outer rim of the dial.

The legendary Rolex Cosmograph "Daytona" wristwatch traces back to the early months of 1961, when Rolex began manufacturing the Rolex Cosmograph. At the time, Rolex was a sponsor of the 24 Hours of Daytona race, and named its new chronograph watch after that famous race (why not right?). Because of their usefulness in calculating average lap speed, the watch's popularity took off in the motor racing community. This smart marketing maneuver would later become celebrated in marketing case study textbooks worldwide on how to successfully market a product.

Early models were iIntroduced in 1961 using a Valjoux 72 manual-wind 3-register chronograph movement, the Cosmograph, Cosmograph Daytona and Oyster Cosmograph Daytona were produced continuously until 1988. Relatively unpopular, they were replaced by a bigger Daytona featuring self-winding movements, using a slightly modified version of Zenith's El Primero caliber, under the name Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph. In 2000 Rolex replaced the Zenith movement with a 3-register chronograph movement entirely of its own design, the Rolex 4130 caliber (model number: 116520). Due to its limited production and increasing popularity, the stainless steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is considered a rare watch to own.

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is one of the most expensive watches marketed enough to be readily recognized by non-enthusiasts, and is often worn for this reason, The Daytona comes in several models, these can be identified by the color of the watch face, the type of metal used, and the type of strap, these include, white gold strap with white face; and stainless steel strap with black face amongst others.

It is fact that Paul Newman himself had worn the Daytona style of Rolex watch from the time he fell in love with automobile racing up until his death in 2008. Paul Newman was quoted as receiving a Daytona model from his wife in 1972. It was similar looking to some he had worn in movies and posters before but the 1972 watch was the real thing. Unlike other celebrities, Paul Newman was not a paid endorser of the Rolex brand, he just always wore one because he liked it.

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