Evolution of the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona

Evolution of the Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona


From an important italian collector, the earliest known Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Ref 6240 frome beginning 1964…


The Rolex Oyster Daytona waterproof case was a very important innovation made by the genevan watchmaker to boost the sales of their chronograph. The dial maker Singer has played an important role in the design of the Cosmograph Daytona. Read all about this mythical company over here, the evolution and prototypes of Singer.  “The most evident manifestation of the doubts Rolex had over the “automobile” issue (oil crisis) in the early 70-ies which surrounded it’s leading chronograph model. In fact, it’s racing essence was only just saved by the flash of genius of the chronograph screw down pushers”. With other words, the Daytona with screw down Oyster pushers was revolutionary and sorted out for Rolex to become their most iconic model.


The Ref. 6240 “Neanderthal” from my friend Pucci Papaleon, writer of the “Ultimate Rolex Daytona” book…



The definitive introduction of the screw down pushers gives Rolex a great advantage over its competitors. This feature allows the watch to be submerged even though the chronographic functions are disabled because of the screwed-down position of the pushers. This attracts buyers who flock to buy the Rolex Chronographs worldwide, thus, eventually ensuring the success of this model.


The old-fashioned manually wound timepieces began their journey towards collectors heaven. They are soon considered irrefutable treasures to the collectors’ community. The Paul Newman is a prime example and by the end of the 1980s becomes one of the most interesting case studies of the vintage watch market.





Learn everything about the “hidden secrets of the Oyster Daytona Paul Newman” in my previous article here on RPR..



RPR_Paul Newman Black Dial Daytona


Sigma Rolex Daytona Ref 6263..






Daytona movement from the front side, underneath the dial…



14K Rolex Daytona Ref 6263 on USA Jubilee from 1977, for sale on RPM over here




Daytona racing track…


Tropical Daytona’s. From original black the sub dials or even the whole dial changed it’s color to brown.


The sub dials turned to a very attractive light color brown..


And here we see with this rare Oyster Paul Newman the outside track changed from black to dark brown..


Big sub dials vs regular sub dials on the left. The bigger version is called by collectors: “Big Eye”..


18K Rolex Daytona Ref 6263 “Big Eyes Sigma” with French hallmarks, for sale on RPM over here..






Up close, the Ref 6265 Oyster Paul Newman…



Among the various versions of the Paul Newman Daytona, the model sporting a black background and screw-down pushers called RCO or Oyster Down or in italian Oyster Sotto, becomes the most prestigious and sought-after by collectors all over the world. A rough estimate indicates that a little more than a dozen appeared on the market, including both public and private sales, and they all became crowning jewels of the most important international Daytona collections.

Technically manufactured in a similar way to the latest versions of push-down buttons Daytonas, however the difference lies in the presence of the “Oyster” designation, typical of its reference 6263. On normal dials, “Oyster” is located always between “Rolex” and “Cosmograph”. This holds true also for the white Paul Newman dial. However, on this model the dial reads “Rolex Cosmograph Oyster” instead of the normal “Rolex Oyster Cosmograph”.

Another noteworthy feature is the different font used for the Rolex designation on this dial. Compared to all other Paul Newman dials, except for a few rare dials made for ref. 6262 and 6264, the R is bigger and the serifs more accentuated. Beyond its graphical appeal, this feature enhances the value and desirability of the present timepiece.

Consequently, this watch reflect characteristics typical of the first series production. For example, the main case body and bezel are derived from previous models, the case back is internally stamped 6239, the caliber is 727, and the screw-down pushers are millerighe.



A rare white RCO is for sale on RPM, follow the link…

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Soon for sale during the”Start Stop Reset” auction in Geneva. Read more about it at my earlier RPReport


Only a handful of examples are know of the gold Ref 6263 Oyster Paul Newman..


Some special deliveries of the Oyster Daytona made by Rolex, here the so far unique Pan Am. Read all about it at my RPReport..


And some mythical UAE & Oman – Qaboos deliveries specially made by Rolex. Read all about it at my earlier RPReport…




Next to each other, the special UAE on the left vs the regular Big Red Panda on the right…


Bling Daytona’s, the rare ref 6270.. big_6270_oro_q_brill


Handwinding Daytona movement…


Some more “Oyster Daytona” details from Stefano Mazzariol’s App called “I-Daytona” which you can order over here…


The difference between the pump and screw down Daytona case…



The specific Rolex typography thats been used in the Oyster Daytona..



Something I get asked a lot, what is the difference in screw down pushers. Below Stefano shows you the main differences. Many Daytona have lost their original screw down pushers during a later service as Rolex wanted to update their quality of waterproofness. In the same time, for collectors, Rolex destroyed the originality, something back then nobody cared about but now is a big issue. With spare part prices of early MK1 going to 5K it matters enormously if your Daytona is having the correct pushers or not.


Yet another hot topic, the correct bakelite bezels. If you focus on the 2 of 200 then you notice immediately the different typography that has been used. Same as with the correct screw down pushers, having an MK1 bakelite bezel on your Ref 6240 is adding substantial value. The spare part prices for an MK1 are reaching 5K and more already!..



Official Rolex documentation teach us: “A stop watch, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 165ft in it’s oyster case, when push button and winding crown are screwed down”..



The first Oyster Daytona Ref 6240 published in Rolex catalogue…


The case back Rolex inscriptions made in their first Oyster model, the Ref 6240…


Then another question I get a lot of times, the difference between old and service Daytona dial. Or the so called “Big Red ” signing. How do you see the difference? In below picture from Stefano all is explained..



Then the difference in “floating” or non floating, which we saw with earlier examples…


Next in evolution is the automatic Rolex caliber,


Data sheet of the new automatic Rolex movement, the caliber 4030.




And the differences in the bezel insert…


An overview of the 1965, 1978 and 1987 Oyster Case differences…



Official Rolex catalogue of their new Ref 16520, 16523, 16528 and 16518…


As with every successful Rolex model, the dial maker changed the graphic every year or so, find the differences up close of the steel 16520 below…


The silver & black Ref 6263 & 6265 dial…


The Daytona bracelet ref 78350 with 19mm end links from 1977…


Final Rolex booklet for the Daytona Cosmograph..


Known in 2 examples is this transitional Automatic Daytona in stainless steel with old font typography and new perpetual case and movement…


With regards to the collection history of Daytona, the moment of “breakthrough” does not arrive until 1988, with the introduction of automatic movements and a rediscovery of manual Daytonas. Due to the slow supply from Zenith, the manufacturer of the El Primero caliber, and an underestimation of market demand, retailers find themselves with lines of clients waiting for the delivery of their new watch.


The Automatics Hit the Market.

In 1988, Rolex introduced the 16520 reference at the Spring Basel Watch Fair. The most obviously ‘historical’ change is the switch from the former manual winding movement to the new automatic mechanism. And, aesthetically speaking, compared to the previous models it presented a totally new look.


  • Above, gold Ying & Yang early automatic Daytona.

The watch case of the ‘new’ self winding timepiece is always crafted in three separate parts, whilst the bezel carries the engraved 1.000 base tachymeter scale – the first series featured the 200 graduated scale, whilst the second one a 400 graduated scale. The water resistance of both the Triplock winding crown and pushers is ensured by means of a screw down system. The dial is available in two versions: a white field with white subsidiary registers framed by black chapter rings, and in black with black subsidiary registers featuring white outer tracks. The stick hour indexes and the hands are skeleton-made and luminescent – originally tritium-filled and subsequently replaced by SuperLuminova.

It immediately became a highly sought after icon with Rolex enthusiasts. In fact it was the hardest chronograph to get on the market, and retailers had year-long waiting lists. The production of this model officially ended in 2000.

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  • Early porcelain Steel Daytona that has been made in small quantity and due to high costs and difficulties of producing.

Throughout its many developing stages the Cosmograph Daytona has always preserved its inner essence. It is no coincidence that this timepiece still today represents millions of peoples ‘dream chronograph’, the trophy greatly sought after over all five continents. Its success is without doubt far from being doomed. The Daytona is like having a piece of history sitting on your wrist; being instantly recognised it simply ‘stands out’ and is able to convey the typical Rolex style. In conclusion, this is the essence of its success.

  • A floating Daytona Ref 16520



The most important innovation of the present 116520 reference lays in its inner heart: the new calibre 4130. The first chronograph mechanism entirely designed, developed and manufactured by Rolex. Other updates concern some imperceptible aesthetics changes such as the positioning of the pushers, the higher alignment of the subsidiary registers, the shape and length of the lugs, the size of the hour indexes and the introduction of the inner flange along the dial perimeter.

  • The updated Rolex Ref 116520, now with silver colored sub dials.



The Evolution of the Rolex Daytona Bezel, from ceramic to steel and first one was bakelite…



In detail, the new Ref 1165oo LN, again with black colored sub dials. A hint to it’s iconic Rolex heritage!


Rolex introduced during the 2016 BaselWorld show their new steel Oyster Rolex Daytona Cosmograph, read about it on RPR..



The new 2016 white gold Rolex Daytona with blue dial…

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The new 2016 Rolex Daytona in all gold with green dial…

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Let me end with the evolution of the Oyster Rolex Daytona from ref 6263, 16520 to Ref 116520 to the latest Ref 1165oo LN..


If you have any question or you perhaps own a early Rolex Daytona and you want to know more about your watch, contact me by using the CONTACT Button. I do hope you have enjoyed this RPReport!