The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona embodies a history marked by a passion for speed and motor sport. Created by Rolex in 1963, this model born for racing has established an extraordinary track record in the world of motor sport thanks to its reliability and performance. Known simply as the “Daytona”, the watch has risen to the rank of an icon as one of the best known chronographs in the world.
Rolex Daytona – the watch
Daytona is an evocative name which had forged its own legend; one built on land speed records, ultra-powerful engines, races on hard-packed sand and daring feats of racing.
Efficient, precise, legible, robust, reliable, waterproof and self-winding, it is also comfortable, elegant and timeless. Judging by the success and outstanding reputation worldwide of this perfect alchemy of form and function, it is considered in many aspects to be the ultimate chronograph. More than 50 years after its launch in 1963, its perfection is the product of a long maturation process.
Each inscription on the dial of a Rolex watch is guarantee of performance. They were added one by one to this emblematic watch as it evolved: simply “COSMOGRAPH” at the outset, over the years “OYSTER”,”PERPETUAL”,”COSMOGRAPH”,”DAYTONA”, and “SUPERLATIVE CHRONOMETER OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED”, were added, chronicling a legend in watchmaking.
DAYTONA BEACH – WORLD CAPITAL OF SPEED
It all began on the beach at Daytona Beach, Florida in the early the 20th century. This broad band of hard-packed sand, stretches more than 35 kilometres (22 miles) long, became one of the legendary sites in the conquest of speed and the advent of motor racing. Between 1903 and 1935, 14 world land speed records were set there. Daytona Beach’s natural raceway was exceptional. It attracted automobile pioneers from the four corners of the United States and from Europe, who came to compete at the wheel of the most powerful cars of their time.
Motor sport exploits that resounded around the globe swiftly secured Daytona Beach’s reputation as the “world capital of speed”. In March 1935, the recordbreaking culminated in the fastest speed ever set on the beach at Daytona, by the daring British driver, Sir Malcolm Campbell, in his famous speedster Bluebird: he clocked 445 km/h (276 mph), just a few months before he broke the 300 mph barrier and set a new World Land Speed Record at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The man who would go down in history as the “king of speed” had been wearing a Rolex Oyster since the early 1930s.
Daytona International Speedway – the temple of motor racing
The motor racing tradition persisted on the beach until the late 1950s. It then continued on the purpose-built Daytona International Speedway, opened in 1959 as one of the first Super Speedways in the world. Every year, this gigantic amphitheatre, 4 kilometres in circumference, with 31-degree banked turns which allow breathtaking acceleration, hosts automobile races as thrilling and prestigious as the Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona®. The most experienced racing drivers rate the latter, 24-hour, endurance race – the American equivalent of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – as one of the most difficult in the world.
Daytona International Speedway inherited a formidable history, and gave its name to the chronograph Rolex created in 1963: the Cosmograph Daytona. It was a highly innovative chronograph, with excellent legibility of its functions thanks to highly contrasting counters and its tachymetric scale, which was no longer on the dial but positioned on the bezel. Its sporty appearance was the result of functional considerations intended to respond to the wearer’s needs and to make the watch the best instrument for measuring time and speed on the racing track.
The Legend lives on
For half a century, the Cosmograph Daytona has created its own legend. By the mid-1960s, it had become the winner’s trophy at the 24 Hours of Daytona, a race inaugurated in 1962 and renamed Rolex 24 At Daytona® in 1992. Today, the Rolex Daytona chronograph is still regarded as the highest honour for many of the world’s best endurance racing drivers who compete there each January.
“It’s all about the watch”, said driver Scott Pruett a few days before he and his team triumphed in the 2013 edition – his fifth victory. Today this leading endurance race, which begins the automobile sports season in the United States, is commonly known by the name of its prestigious trophy: “The Rolex”.
Like all legends, the worldwide success of the Cosmograph Daytona has retained its share of mystery. The Rolex chronograph’s appeal accelerated after a new, entirely redesigned and self-winding model was introduced in 1988, and it has remained undiminished ever since. In 2000, Rolex equipped the watch with a new high-performance, self-winding movement entirely designed and manufactured in- house. Emblematic of Rolex’s watchmaking know-how and technological expertise, the innovations in this movement set new standards for chronographs in terms robustness, reliability, and precision.
THE NAME DAYTONA TELLS THE STORY OF A PASSION FOR MOTOR RACING
More than 50 years after its creation, the Cosmograph Daytona continues to evolve. Rolex has never changed its approach: striving to design and manufacture a chronograph that best responds to the brand’s quest for perfection.
Whether it refers to the city in Florida, the birthplace of speed, or the emblematic Rolex Chronograph dedicated to racing drivers, the name Daytona tells the story of a passion for motor racing. It is at the heart of the legend forged over the time by the pioneers of speed and great drivers. Each of these historic figures testifies to the long-standing and privileged ties that Rolex fostered with the world of motor racing.
Discover the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona models in gallery below:
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