Rolex is the master of crafting and selling the most coveted watches on the market year after year. With the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona probably being the most sought after line among the many coveted Rolex references. Whenever there is a new release, the supply simply doesn’t meet the demand. Thus, overwhelming, backchannel-practices ensues.
In this article, we are going to discuss why collectors fight tooth and nail to get their hands on a Cosmograph Daytona, the waiting list, and where you can get a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona without the unbearably long wait.
But before we start, let’s talk about the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and its history.
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
As with the TAG Heuer Carrera and Omega Speedmaster, the Daytona was created to tap into the increasing popularity of motorcar racing. They designed the watch to be a tool for race car drivers.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona has a waterproof stainless-steel Oyster case, distinct dial features for optimal legibility, and a large tachymetric scale. The tachymeter allows drivers to calculate the average speed of a specific distance. Traditionally, the tachymeter was on the dial, but with the Cosmograph, it is etched on the dial, which improves legibility and it gives the watch a unique look.
Moreover, this was the first ever Rolex to utilize a chronograph.
Rolex Daytona watches are one of the most iconic and recognizable watches on the face of the planet. You can tell a Rolex Daytona from a mile away. With its pronounced pushers and crown, tachymeter bezel, smart color scheme, and the three perfectly proportioned and legible subdials.
There’s a lot more than incredible looks and functions that goes into the remarkable demand for the Cosmograph Daytona, but to explain, we need to go back and start from its beginning.
History of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
The first Daytona, at the time known simply as the Cosmograph, was introduced to the world in 1963.
Although Rolex already had decades of involvement in the racing industry, this was the first watch that was truly made for motor racing, and it was the first sports chronograph.
The Cosmograph was highly legible, robust, reliable, and the watch retailed for a mere $210 at the time…
What’s more…it wasn’t a massive success straight out of the gate. The watch just didn’t capture the attention of the audience, which is a shocking fact to us nowadays. Back then, Rolex dealers would offer very attractive discounts on Daytonas (lucky people now if they still have those vintage Daytonas) and there were far fewer made in comparison with Daytona’s competition.
In 1965, Rolex added the name Daytona to the Cosmograph, as a reference to the famous Daytona Beach Race Track in Florida. Daytona was a place were many speed records were contested, so it was a very fitting choice.
Everything changed, in terms of popularity, for the Daytona when Mr. Paul Newman, Hollywood superstar, started donning the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. Paul Newman had a passion for racing and he started pursuing it in the early 1970s…
Paul’s wife, Joanne Woodward, gifted him a Rolex Daytona watch. He wore this watch consistently, and as the world watched him time and time again, the Rolex Daytona exploded in admiration and demand.
Although Paul never became a Rolex ambassador, him simply wearing the Daytona was more than enough (which is a big understatement). Now, the Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona watches are the “holy grail” for collectors. The most expensive Rolex ever sold was a Paul Newman Rolex Daytona. It auctioned for $17.8 million dollars.
All that said, that’s not nearly the only reason for the insane demand, there’s more to it, which we are about to explain…
Why is there such a long waiting list for the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona?
First, let’s look back to when it all started.
This Daytona waiting list phenomenon has been going on for decades. Moreover, it has been built up more and more, becoming increasingly harder to buy the new releases.
What’s interesting and surprising is how this all began. Let us explain…
In 1988, Rolex decided to equip their new Cosmograph (ref. 16500) with an automatic Zenith movement. At the time, this was a breakthrough as the powerful new movement, which was based on Zenith’s iconic El Primero calibre, was being placed inside the larger 40mm case that was the Daytona.
This was highly attractive to the people and the watch was a smashing success. So much so that the demand far outreached the supply. Everyone wanted the new Cosmograph Daytona. However, as Rolex was sourcing the movement from Zenith, there was a shortage of them. Thus, the waiting list grew even bigger.
Nowadays, of course, Rolex creates and innovates every single element and handles the entire production cycle themselves. However, seeing how not being able to meet the demand of the market over the years did no harm, in fact, it did quite the opposite, Rolex continues to allow a supply and demand curve with a massive upward demand slope.
Supply and Demand
Although the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is a marvelous watch, there is some psychology that is involved here.
With a very high demand for the Cosmograph, and a supply that is much less than the demand, not everyone who wants a Daytona can have one. As we all know, people want what they can’t have. Moreover, this makes the Daytona rare, and watch collectors love rarity and scarcity.
What’s more, this also means the prices for Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches in the secondhand market are sky-high (we are going to discuss the second-hand market below)…
So, in a nutshell, thanks to Rolex creating a beautiful watch, Paul Newman making it the most conic watch ever to exist, Rolex being the illustrious brand that it is, and them keeping the production numbers low, we have a watch that everyone who can afford it wants but most can’t have…
Therefore, we are left with a long waiting list. It’s pretty much as simple as that…
Plus, being the genius that the Rolex brand is, they continuously increase the retail price in order to retain and achieve a higher market position. This is all supply and demand 101.
Here’s how people make sure they can get their hands on a Daytona…
Think of the Stainless Steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona like it’s the hottest club in a big city and it’s Friday night. There is always going to be a long line waiting to get in. The bouncer will have you waiting in line, but there’s a chance you won’t ever make it inside. You may simply not have the time or you may not meet the dress code requirement. What’s more, you know the club isn’t at maximum capacity. The line is important as it lets people know the club is popular. Moreover, You’ll see a few people here and there who simply stroll by the line and right to the bouncer who opens the rope without even saying a word. These are regulars who spend money on bottles, people who are important, or people that know someone important.
Original Rolex Dealers
With a Rolex Daytona, Rolex dealers have a list, but for most, that’s often just polite way to end the conversation and then make an attempt to get you to purchase another less coveted model. Dealers save attractive models like the Rolex Daytona for their most premium customers – customers who spend a lot with them. Many times, Rolex dealers have stainless steel Daytona’s in the back, but they hold onto them for their premium customers.
So, for someone who doesn’t have a relationship with a Rolex dealer, you may be able to get fed…or “get into the club” we should say…once all the premium customers have been taken care of…if you are lucky. More often than not, this takes years. Even once the most premium customers are taken care of, dealers like to hold on to a few Daytona watches for future situations where another premium customer wants one.
It really is a fascinating phenomenon when you think about it. It starts with Rolex’s heritage and their control of the production numbers, then to the Rolex dealers who essentially select who gets the watch and “enters the club”. And you can be sure it’s not going to be a random new client.
This is why you see some people saying they’ve been on waiting lists for as long as ten years!
The point is, to help your chances of getting a coveted stainless steel Daytona, make a strong relationship with a reliable dealer if you haven’t already. You can do this by buying other watches and jewelry, but this still doesn’t guarantee anything. Many times Rolex dealers simply don’t have many or any Daytonas. We’ve heard of some dealers who can only get their hands on one Daytona during the year.
As for looking around, it is pretty much pointless to call up all the Rolex dealers you can find to ask to be one the waiting list. If you aren’t one of their own, there’s essentially zero chance of getting a limited availability watch.
If waiting isn’t your game, and you aren’t a premium customer, you can look to the second-hand market.
If you don’t want to wait, you can look to the second-hand market, but you will likely be paying a premium. Certain relatively new models cost more on the second wrist than they do on the first. You pay a premium for the convenience of not having to wait the years it can take to get one brand new.
The problem with this is, most people aren’t willing to sell their SS Rolex Daytona. So, you may need to look to older models or non-stainless steel Daytona’s, which leads us to our next point…
Are all Daytona Cosmograph watches in Extremely High Demand?
No, really it’s all about the traditional, stainless steel Daytonas. Now, the platinum and Everose Daytona’s, sell well, but the stainless steel models are the holy grail and the least available. That’s what the waiting list is for, the stainless steel Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.
Which is the most popular Rolex Cosmograph Daytona model?
The most popular is the new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Reference 116500LN. This is the one people are currently waiting “10 years” to get.
The 116500LN was released in 2016. It has a stainless steel case and bracelet with a black Cerachrom ceramic bezel. Ever since its release, it has been making a huge commotion in the Rolex collector community. The watch is absolutely gorgeous. It has a Rolex in-house automatic calibre 4130, which is the best movement to date, with a stringent manufacturing tolerance of +2/-2 seconds a day accuracy and a power reserve of 72 hours. There is so much to love about this Rolex, but you won’t likely get one anytime soon unless, again, you have that strong relationship built with an Original Rolex dealer or you are willing to pay a very high premium for a second hand one.
Where to buy Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches in Boca Raton?
Diamonds by Raymond Lee has one of the largest Rolex collections in all of South Florida and we are the most reputable Rolex dealers in town.
Please contact us for pricing and availability.
About Diamonds By Raymond Lee
Diamonds By Raymond Lee is Boca Raton’s most recommended sales and service centers for watches, diamonds, and high-end jewelry. Our business is family owned and operated. We have over 30 years of experience selling fine certified luxury watches and in that time we have built an unparalleled reputation for fair, quality dealings in South Florida.
Our goal is to meet the needs of our customers at our Boca Raton retail store and online and to provide our community with the best possible experience. We combine value, quality, and cost with the remarkable ability to meet and understand the needs of the people we serve.
If you live in Boca Raton, please feel free to drop by our showroom anytime!
Diamond By Raymond Lee’s Showroom in Boca Raton, Florida:
2801 N Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33431
Hours: Monday-Friday 11am-7pm | Saturday 10am-5pm | Sunday 12pm-5pm
Have a look at some of the Rolex Daytona’s that are available right now at Diamonds By Raymond Lee:
Click the links below to view any of the following Rolex Cosmograph Daytona’s full sales listing.
You can read all about this watch here: Rolex 6262 hand-on review by Diamonds by Raymond Lee