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Questions & Answers: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona – Buyers Guide

The Rolex Daytona is a timepiece with immense prestige. It is likely the most known and talked about watch in history. And with an approximate mid-to-high 5-digit yearly production count across the various Daytona references, and in turn, up to 100,000 Rolex Daytona purchases each year, it is certain that customers have a plethora of questions they need answered. 

So, to help streamline your research, we put together a list of the most common questions regarding the Rolex Daytona and then answered them in a concise yet detailed manner.

Before we begin, we just want to make it clear that “Rolex Daytona” and “Rolex Cosmograph Daytona” are the same thing. That’s because all Rolex Daytonas are Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas. However, not all Rolex Cosmograph watches are Daytonas, as the name “Daytona” wasn’t officially given to the watch until 1963. Before then, it was known as the Rolex Cosmograph. So, both Rolex Daytona and Rolex Cosmograph Daytona refer to the same timepiece model. Moreover, the official name of the Rolex Daytona is ‘Rolex Cosmograph Daytona’.

In any case, we are only answering questions about the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. There is no need to talk about pre-Daytona Rolex Cosmographs when addressing the most common questions about this iconic timepiece.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s commence this Rolex Daytona frequently asked post, which can also be considered the ultimate guide to buying a Rolex Daytona.

We will be sectioning the Rolex Daytona questions and answers as follows: 
  • Miscellaneous 
  • Features & Functions 
  • Price & Value
  • Aftercare
  • Best Rolex Daytonas To Buy
Table of contents:
  1. What is the most popular Rolex Daytona?
  2. Who was the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph made for?
  3. Why is the waiting list for a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph so long?
  4. How to get a Rolex Daytona with such a long waiting list?
  5. How to tell if a Rolex Daytona is real?
  6. What size is Rolex Daytona?
  7. How many metals do Rolex Daytonas come in?
  8. What kind of straps and bracelets does the Rolex Daytona have?
  9. Is Rolex Daytona water resistant?
  10. What movement do Rolex Daytonas use?
  11. Does Rolex Daytona have battery?
  12. What are the 3 dials on a Rolex Daytona?
  13. How does the second hand move on a Rolex Daytona?
  14. What does a Rolex Daytona do?
  15. Does the bezel rotate on a Rolex Daytona?
  16. How much does a Cosmograph Daytona Rolex cost?
  17. How much is a new Rolex Daytona?
  18. Why is the Rolex Daytona so expensive?
  19. What are the most expensive Rolex Daytonas?
  20. What is the most expensive Rolex Daytona ever sold?
  21. Is a Rolex Daytona a good investment?
  22. Resale Value: How much is a Rolex Daytona worth?
  23. How to buy a Rolex? Can you buy a Rolex Daytona from Rolex themselves?
  24. What maintenance does a Rolex Daytona need?
  25. What are the best Rolex Daytona models to buy?

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Questions & Answers: 

Note: The below Rolex Daytona questions and answers contain links to certain product listings, which allow you to see more info about specific references. We will also be linking to other articles we’ve written where relevant, in case you want more information.

1. What is the most popular Rolex Daytona?

Without a doubt, the most popular Rolex Daytona is the original stainless steel Rolex Daytona reference 16520. The Rolex 16520 Daytona with the Zenith Caliber 4030 movement is a collector’s favorite. Its immense popularity is reflected in its exorbitant prices on the secondhand market.

The Rolex 16520 was first released in 1988, and is now discontinued. This is the Rolex Daytona that really made the Rolex Daytona in general the most popular watch in the world. 

Beyond that, stainless steel Daytona watches are the most popular as a whole. And, as of 2020, the new Rose Gold Daytona reference 116505 is also highly coveted, as rose gold is the hottest precious metal in the watch game right now.

2. Who was the Rolex Daytona Cosmograph made for?

The Rolex Daytona Cosmograph was inspired and made with racecar drivers in mind. It become iconic and known as “the watch for racecar drivers” thanks to Paul Newman, who wore a Daytona every day after his wife gave it to him as a gift. 

The Rolex Cosmograph was first given the nickname “Daytona” back in 1963. It later became the official name. 

The name “Daytona” originates from the famous Daytona motor race in Daytona Beach, Florida.

So, the name,  the features, and the fact that it was popularized by a famous race car driver all make it the quintessential racing watch. Not to mention, Rolex states it is “A Watch Born To Race”.

That said, the Rolex Daytona is worn by affluent people of all careers, both men and women, as it is a beautiful and extremely iconic timepiece. 

3. Why is the waiting list for a Rolex Daytona Cosmograph so long?

The waiting list for the Rolex Daytona is mostly specific to the stainless steel versions. The rose gold Daytona often has a long waiting list too. The phenomenon for the Daytona waiting list has been going on for decades now, ever since the smashing success of the Rolex 16520. Back then, Rolex was sourcing the movement from Zenith, and there was a shortage of supply.

Moreover, the watch was highly sought after. This made for an extreme supply and demand curve. The rarity and scarcity only increased the supply and demand curve over the years. Ergo, the Rolex Daytona became synonymous with “Waiting List”…Nowadays, Rolex does everything in-house, of course, and they can easily control the production, but they keep the production numbers low as to keep the supply and demand curve and thus the scarcity factor, which makes it incredibly special to own a steel Rolex Daytona…Plus, it’s an extraordinarily gorgeous watch. 

4. How to get a Rolex Daytona with such a long waiting list?

Think of it like getting into the hottest club in the world. There’s a huge line. You will probably never get in unless you know someone. It’s the same concept with the classic steel Rolex Daytona (which is now the new Rolex reference 116500). Your only other option is to look to the secondhand market, where you will be able to buy a stainless steel Rolex Daytona, but expect to pay a premium (think of it like giving the bouncer a huge tip to get in).

5. How to tell if a Rolex Daytona is real?

There are many ways to spot a fake Daytona, especially the poorly done fakes. However, these days there are “Super Clones” that are very difficult to discern, sometimes impossible without opening up, and even then unless you know what you are looking at, you won’t know. Plus, you don’t want to open a Rolex watch up without knowing what you are doing. So, the best bet is to take it to a pro to have them check for you. Better yet, the smartest thing is to only buy from an authorized Rolex dealer like Diamonds By Raymond Lee and Raymond Lee Jewelers. This way you have no worries about it being fake or not. All that said, let’s say you want to buy a Rolex Daytona for someone and you don’t trust its authenticity, here are two guides that we wrote for spotting a Fake Daytona that we wrote. 

How to spot a fake Rolex Daytona: Faketona vs Daytona

Top 5 ways to spot a fake Daytona

FEATURES & FUNCTIONS

6. What size is Rolex Daytona?

Modern Rolex Daytonas have a 40mm case size. 

From the first Rolex (pre-Daytona Rolex Cosmograph 6234) until the Rolex Daytona 6262 (1970), Rolex Daytona watches had a 36mm case size. Then Rolex Daytona references 6264 and 6265 (end of 1970 until 1988) had a 37mm case. Finally, in 1988 with the release of the Rolex Zenith El Primero, we see the modern Rolex Daytona case size, 40mm. 

7. How many metals do Rolex Daytonas come in?

The Rolex Daytona comes in stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and platinum. They also have various dials. Moreover, some exclusive Rolex Daytona watches have diamonds or sapphires (Rainbow Rolex). 

8. What kind of straps and bracelets does the Rolex Daytona have?

The classic Daytona uses an Oysterbracelet. There are also Rolex Daytona watches with leather straps. And, as of March 2017, Rolex introduced their patented and highly innovative Oysterflex strap, specifically for 18K gold Rolex Daytonas. 

9. Is Rolex Daytona water resistant?

The Rolex Daytona has an Oystercase and is water-resistant down to 100 meters. 

10. What movement do Rolex Daytonas use?

There have been many movements over the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona’s history. The most famous being the calibre 4030 (a modified Zenith El Primero) and the current, modern, extremely precise, Rolex in-house calibre 4130. All new Daytona watches use calibre 4130 movements and they are deemed as one of Rolex’s best creations. The calibre 4130 is a self-winding mechanical movement masterpiece. 

11. Does Rolex Daytona have battery?

There has never, EVER, been a battery operated Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. 

12. What are the 3 dials on a Rolex Daytona?

The three sub-dials on a Rolex Daytona dial are for normal continuous seconds (not the chronograph), chronograph elapsed minutes up to 30 mins, and chronograph elapsed hours up to 12 hours. And the large seconds hand is for the chronograph seconds. 

13. How does the second hand move on a Rolex Daytona?

This means it’s stationary unless using the chronograph function. Rolex did this as it makes it much easier to use/see the chronograph seconds for race car drivers.

Note: Only the Rolex Daytona has 3 sub dials. 

14. What does a Rolex Daytona do?

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is a mechanical chronograph watch made to meet the demands of racecar drivers. It measures elapsed time and calculates average speed using a chronograph on the dial (the large seconds hand). A chronograph is essentially a stopwatch. However, it’s not that simple, as Rolex Daytonas also have a tachymetric bezel, which makes it so you can measure speed based on time traveled over a fixed distance. So, this enables drivers to easily convert elapsed time in units per second to speed in units per hour.

15. Does the bezel rotate on a Rolex Daytona?

No, the bezel on Rolex Daytona watches does not rotate.

PRICE & VALUE

16. How much does a Cosmograph Daytona Rolex cost?

This depends on what reference you want. Is is it new or used? Rare or a more common piece? Precious metal or steel? What dial? There are so many factors and options. So, let’s have a look at a few different options…

17. How much is a new Rolex Daytona?

For the steel Rolex 116500 Daytona, it is around $12,000 new. For the yellow gold Rolex Daytona Oysterflex Bracelet reference 116518, it is around $32,000. And for the full rose gold Rolex Daytona reference 116505, it is around $45,000. Of course, there are many other new reference to consider and prices vary from dealer to dealer slightly. So, we advise that if you want to buy a new Rolex Daytona, go to an authorized Rolex dealer, try them on and ask for prices.

18. Why is the Rolex Daytona so expensive?

First, Rolex is the most internationally recognized luxury watch brand in the world. In fact, it is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Second, it’s a beautiful watch with incredible history, craftsmanship and engineering. Third, it is one of the most iconic and highly sought after Rolex models. All of this makes for an expensive timepiece that people are more than willing to pay the price to obtain. It is a status symbol as much as it is a timepiece. 

19. What are the most expensive Rolex Daytonas?

The most expensive Rolex Daytonas are the rare, limited production Rolex Daytona watches that have sold at auction. They range from a few hundred thousand dollars all the way up to many millions.

As for the most expensive new models, they are the full precious metal versions. More specifically the Rose Gold Rainbow Rolex and the Platinum Ice Blue Dial Rolex Daytonas. It’s hard to say how much as you need to request the price. Moreover, the waiting lists are so long they are nearly impossible to buy unless you are someone special.

20. What is the most expensive Rolex Daytona ever sold?

The most expensive Rolex Daytona ever sold is also one of the most expensive watches, in general, ever sold. It is the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona, which sold for 17.75 million USD back in October 2017. 

21. Is a Rolex Daytona a good investment?

Absolutely, unequivocally, YES! A Rolex Daytona will always increase in value. Especially after it reaches the 5 to 10 year mark, and then exponentially when it achieves vintage status. The fact that the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona sold for 17.75 million when it cost only a few hundred dollars back in the 60s says enough. Of course, some models appreciate more than others, but in any case, you can be sure you won’t lose value with a Rolex Daytona. 

22. Resale Value: How much is a Rolex Daytona worth?

The resale value of a Rolex Daytona is the best of all watches. It’s like gold, literally. You can sell it anywhere in the world too. To be more specific, the value of the Rolex Daytona has increased by 5.1% each year for the past 5 years. Some references, even doubling in price over just a few years. 

23. How to buy a Rolex? Can you buy a Rolex Daytona from Rolex themselves?

You can not buy a Rolex Daytona, or any Rolex watch for that matter, from Rolex. To buy a Rolex, you must buy it from an authorized Rolex dealer, which man prominent jewelry stores are, such as Diamonds By Raymond Lee. You can also purchase a Rolex online from sites like eBay, where individuals are selling their used Rolex watches. However, we highly recommend going with an authorized dealer as it is more trustworthy, you know for sure you are getting a real Rolex, and you’ll have a warranty.

AFTERCARE

24. What maintenance does a Rolex Daytona need?

As amazing as the Rolex Daytona is, as is its guarantee, it is not immune to wear and tear. However, there is no maintenance required except simple cleaning with a microfiber cloth. You definitely should not polish it, especially yourself. They recommend sending it in for service every 7 years or so just to make sure it’s running well. Although some people never even do that.

As for something happening to your Rolex Daytona, you will need to send it in for service. This typically cost up to $1,000 (but usually less). Moreover, you will be parted from your Rolex for some time (up to several months, but usually less). Many Rolex dealers will lend you another watch during that time. All that said, Rolex is the best in the business when it comes to servicing and customer service. Furthermore, as of 2015, the warranty went from 2 to 5 years. 

25. What are the best Rolex Daytona models to buy?

This is a hard question to answer as it comes down to personal preference and budget for which Rolex Daytona is best for you to buy. But here are three of the most popular options available at Diamonds By Raymond Lee, and at a very competitive price point:

  1. Rolex 116520 Daytona Black Chronograph Dial Stainless Steel Watch
  2. Ref. 116505 Daytona 18K Rose Gold Tachymeter Bezel Watch
  3. Rolex 6262 Daytona Black Stainless Steel Vintage Watch
  4. Ref. 16528 Daytona Zenith 18K Yellow Gold Champagne Serti Dial Watch
  5. Rolex 116500 Cosmograph Daytona Stainless Steel White & Black Dial Watch

View our full collection of Rolex Daytona Watches

If you have any questions about the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, leave them in the comments below so we can answer them!