Rolex Daytona 116500LN
Usually when you receive a gift, it’s one of two kinds. The first often comes in the form of day-of-the-week underpants or an autobiography by the world’s most tedious celebrity. The second is the rarer sort, the present that you’ve been dropping hints as subtle as a sledgehammer for, but never dared hope you might receive. At this year’s Baselword, Rolex gave us the latter variety. The Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN is the watch we’ve all been waiting with bated breath for—the brand’s classic racing chronograph updated in 904L steel with a black cerachrom bezel.
When the Daytona celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, there were hushed, excited whispers that the beloved watch might receive its ceramic upgrade then; instead, Rolex treated us to an elegant platinum piece. We admired the rich finish of its case and the charm of its unusual ice blue dial—but still we were hungry for what we really wanted, and so we waited. What we were awarded for our patience more than exceeds expectations.
The Daytona is one of the few watches that can really lay claim to the title ‘icon’. It was first created by the powerhouse luxury brand in 1963, although it technically wouldn’t take on the name we know today until a year later. After first thinking the piece might be suited to the position of space watch—a job that ultimately went to Omega’s Speedmaster—Rolex turned its attention to motorsport, which was speeding ahead in public interest. The brand named its sporty chronograph after the epicentre of motor racing in North America, the Daytona International Speedway in Florida, and a legend was born.
As one might expect from Rolex, the evolution of the Daytona has been slow, deliberate and subtle—which is part of its enduring appeal. So what, then, is new for this most recent edition? With its smart black cerachrom bezel, the 116500LN pays sublime tribute to the classic styling of vintage Daytonas. The entire bezel is one single piece, with a platinum PVD treatment for the numerals that gives off an exceptionally beautiful lustre. The watch comes in two versions: one with a black dial and one with white, both with perfectly contrasting chronograph subdials.
The watch is wonderfully sized and supremely wearable. It remains at 40mm, but the new black bezel gives it a satisfying boldness and makes it feel more dominant on the wrist. The excellent automatic calibre 4130 that powers the watch is not only COSC Chronometer Certified, but it also boasts a Superlative Chronometer certification. This is Rolex’s in-house accreditation that ensures the movement is accurate to -2/+2 seconds per day.
Not surprisingly, the impact that the 116500LN has made on the watch community is as great as the waiting list to get one. It’s an incredibly difficult watch to get your hands on, which of course only enhances its allure. If your name isn’t down on a list at your local dealer, it’s looking like you’re going to be waiting until 2017 before you can admire one of these beauties on your own wrist.
When Rolex first unveiled the new Cosmograph Daytona back in March, we gave the white-dialled version the affectionate nickname Rolex ‘Stormtrooper’ here at The Watch Magazine, but I’m honestly torn between which side I’m now most drawn, the dark or the light. What I do know, though, is that it’s the best gift I’ll receive all year—I’m still penning my thank-you letter to Rolex.
Watch Spec | Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN
Case: Steel, ceramic bezel Dimensions: 40mm Crystal: Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance: 100m Movement: 4130, automatic Frequency: 28,800vph Power Reserve: 72 hours Strap: Steel, Oyster bracelet Functions: Time, chronograph | Shop Now