The Rolex Daytona has proven to be one of the most successful watches from the Genevan marque, albeit the prize for the most popular model goes to the Submariner. Demand for the Daytona reached its zenith when Paul Newman’s personal Daytona fetched a record $17.8 million in 2017 (Phillips, New York). Even before this auction, stainless steel Daytonas were fetching premiums over recommended retail prices. Indeed, demand was stimulated by hordes of speculators who merely wanted the stainless steel Daytona in order to ‘flip’ it and make some easy cash.
The solid gold and platinum Daytonas were commensurately expensive and typically worn by celebrities, often proving beyond the grasp of regular souls. The previously unloved Daytona 116508, featuring an eye-catching green dial / yellow gold case combination soon became sought after, once the famous singer, John Mayer, spoke about it during an interview on Hodinkee. However, for most watch collectors, the two-tone Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116503 has remained under the radar, a comparative underdog. In my view, it makes a good value proposition. This article talks about my personal experience of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116503 and why I feel it is a worthy addition to their watch collection.
Window shopping is one of my favourite lunchtime activities, especially looking at watches and discovering new horological delights. Moreover, I find looking at timepieces to be a very effective way to de-stress. One day, I was feeling dejected and having had my lunch, I walked into an authorised Rolex dealer, located at Raffles Place in Singapore. A member of shop staff immediately recognised me and asked what I was looking for. I said I was interested in a Daytona and casually selected the two-tone Daytona 116503 from the Rolex catalogue. The attentive lady placed my name on the waiting list and I left the premises.
All Daytonas, whether in steel, precious metal or two-tone metal are virtually impossible to find in my native Singapore. The next day, the retailer sent me a message saying that she had my preferred model and asked me If I was interested. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised and immediately said “yes”. Whilst I had simply walked into the watch shop intending to merely browse, I could not resist the opportunity to acquire a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116503, my very first Rolex.
One reason why I was originally drawn to the two-tone Daytona 116503 was its old school metal bezel. Several of the Daytona models in the current collection are fitted with the brand’s Cerachrom bezel made of ceramic. In my opinion, the yellow gold bezel contrasts wonderfully with the black dial. I was also drawn to the Daytona because it possesses a relatively slim case profile despite being a chronograph. Indeed, I have shunned many chronographs because of their bulky thickness.
The modest 40mm case diameter perfectly suits my physique and the watch sits neatly upon my wrist without any hint of annoying rotation. A welcome benefit of the Daytona’s svelte torso is that it readily slips beneath the left cuff of a shirt. Having worn a Patek Phillipe 5712R for the past few years, handling the Rolex is a very different experience. Unlike my Patek, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116503 exhibits a utilitarian character and possesses a sense of ruggedness capable of handling the rigours of daily wear. Turning the crown of the Rolex feels a tad coarser than winding my Patek Phillipe, but does little to diminish my affection for my Daytona.
I am very impressed with the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116503. It is my first Rolex purchase and has led me to understand and appreciate why Rolex is revered by vast numbers of people including numerous experts. Rolex clearly understands the needs of aspiring wearers, making top quality watches, ideal for daily wear.
Personally, I would urge watch enthusiasts to look beyond the much-hyped stainless steel Daytonas and consider owning a two-tone Daytona. It retains its value very well and should prove easier to obtain than the steel versions. Personally, I would suggest that if you can get your hands on one now for the recommended retail price, you should seize the opportunity. In fact, based on my enjoyable Rolex experience, I don’t think you will be disappointed.