In 1963, a Rolex chronograph with a fascinating name was born: Cosmograph Daytona. The chronograph term enhances accuracy, evokes the myth of space travel of those years and, most of all, refers to the historic 24-hour Daytona race sponsored by Rolex. Yet the name of these models, initially, was not Daytona but “Le Mans”. According to an advertisement of the period, the first name was chosen for the French circuit. Ultimately however, Rolex opted for the name we all know. To stay in line with the entireleitmotivof this book, our focus will be on “vintage” models: references 6239, 6241, 6262, 6264 and Oyster 6263 and 6265.
The first of the Daytona family was the 6239 bearing a caliber 722. This also equips the following models except for those with an Oyster case. Produced in yellow gold or steel, one of the characteristics that most differentiates the pair 6239-6262 from the duo 6241-6264 is that of the bezel with tachymeter scale, the former in steel, the latter in black acrylic.
The same feature also distinguishes the two waterproof models of this line with the words Oyster on the dial: steel bezel for the reference 6263 and black for the 6265. The pushers also differentiate these two examples from the others, as they are no longer pushed but screwed, in order to maintain impermeability, and (in this case) the Valjoux 727 movement.
It is also worth noting the star of the current market, the Paul Newman. In fact, the famous American actor wore a 6239 characterized by the unique style of its exotic dial: a two-tone aesthetic contrasting the dial and the sub-dials and the unmistakable “step” which separates them. It is perhaps superfluous to mention the two versions of the chronograph’s second scale which are black or, alternately, red (in this case only for the steel models). The first reception received by Daytona on the market was however lukewarm. Success was achieved among collectors once out of production and replaced by the modern automatic Daytona: only then the myth was born.