In addition to being Rolex’s most coveted watch, the Rolex 116509 Daytona is also the brand’s most diverse sports watch collection. The Rolex Daytona is available in a multitude of materials, such as steel, two-tone, platinum, and gold. Naturally, Rolex doesn’t just make the Daytona in one type of gold but in three different shades—including white gold, which is what we’re highlighting today. While Rolex has been making stainless steel and yellow gold Daytona chronographs since the collection’s inception in the early-1960s, white gold only became an option in the late-1990s. And it wasn’t until the mid-2000s that a white gold Daytona was offered with a bracelet instead of a leather strap.
The Reference Rolex 116509 Daytona is Rolex’s current 18k white gold Daytona variant, and there’s a lot to love about this ultra-luxurious chronograph. Not only is it the only Daytona fitted with a matching white gold Oyster bracelet but it also offers up plenty of superb dial options. Understated thanks to its white metal construction yet exceedingly luxurious since that white metal is 18k gold, keep reading for everything you need to know about the Daytona 116509. Welcome to our ultimate guide to the Rolex Daytona 116509.
To condense the long and storied history of the Cosmograph Daytona in the most efficient way possible, there are three main generations of the Daytona to be aware of. First, there are the manual-winding variants with four-digit reference numbers that Rolex produced from 1963 until 1988. These are, as a group, the most collectible vintage Rolex watches in the market, made especially famous by Paul Newman (whose own vintage Daytona sold for a record-breaking $17.8 million).
The second Rolex 116509 Daytona generation appeared in 1988 as both larger watches (40mm instead of 37mm) and automatic. Rolex used a Zenith El-Primero base movement to power these five-digit Daytona models, but modified about 50% the movement and renamed it the Rolex Caliber 4030. This generation (nicknamed the Zenith Daytona) is where Rolex began offering more variety to the Daytona lineup including new material options like white gold. However, Rolex paired the white gold “Zenith” Daytona ref. 16519 with a leather strap rather than the customary Oyster bracelet.
The six-digit reference Daytona watches made their debut at Baselworld in 2000 where the previous Zenith El Primo movements were replaced with Rolex’s in-house Caliber 4130. The COSC-certified Caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement has several advantages including fewer components for improved reliability, the Parachrom hairspring for increased resistance to external elements, and 72 hours of power reserve. Shortly after the release of the first batch of Daytona watches with in-house movements, Rolex added the full white gold Daytona 116509 to the range in 2004, complete with a white gold Oyster bracelet.