Rolex Daytona Retrospective Chapter 3

Rolex Daytona Retrospective Chapter 3 - Twain Time

In Chapter 1 of this Daytona retrospective, we discussed the first generation of Rolex’s flagship chronograph, which covered nine manual winding references that spanned from 1963 until 1988. In the second chapter, we covered the second Rolex Daytona generation, which stretched from 1988 until 2000, and encompassed automatic chronographs powered by Zenith El-Primero-based movements.

We have finally arrived at the third and final chapter where will we discuss in detail the most current Daytona generation that not only uses in-house movements but also offers a much wider selection of models. We will outline the watches’ design characteristics, discuss the Rolex movement, detail all the references, and offer a guide on how to use the in-house Rolex Daytona watches.

Brief History of Rolex’s In-House Daytona Collection

In 2000, Rolex announced a brand new generation of the Daytona, this time powered by an in-house made automatic chronograph movement rather than one based on the Zenith El-Primero caliber. The in-house Rolex movement is called Caliber 4130 and it’s arguably one of the greatest modern fully-integrated automatic chronograph movements ever made offering impeccable efficiency, accuracy, and of course, serviceability.


Rolex Perpetual Caliber 4130 Automatic Movement

Rolex Perpetual 4130 - Vertical Clutch & Increased Precision


Furnished with a high-performance “vertical clutch” mechanism (which eliminates the jitteriness of the chronograph hand when it’s activated or stopped), it took Rolex five years to design and develop Caliber 4130. Today, all six-digit Daytona references (discontinued or current-production) run on COSC-certified Caliber 4130, which offers 72 hours of power reserve.

Third-Generation Rolex Daytona Design Characteristics

The style of the in-house Daytona remained largely the same as the previous “Zenith” Daytona generation. However, one major difference was the placement of the subdials. Rolex swapped the positions of the running seconds counter and the hour counter so now the running seconds counter sits at 6 o’clock. Cases are also slightly slimmer thanks to the thinner Caliber 4130. Another significant change was the introduction of new materials to the collection including ceramic bezels, Everose gold and platinum cases, and rubber Oysterflex bracelets.


Rolex Daytona Ref. 116523

Rolex Daytona Black Dial Ref. 116523


All Daytona models made from 2000 onwards share the following characteristics:

  • 40mm Oyster cases with screw-down chronograph pushers and screw-down winding crown
  • Crown guards around the winding crown
  • 100-meter water-resistant cases
  • A tachymeter engraved metal or Cerachrom ceramic bezel (gem-set bezels are also available without tachymeter scales)
  • A dial with three registers: 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, running seconds at 6 o’clock
  • Caliber Rolex 4130 automatic chronograph movement, developed in-house
  • Most models are furnished with three-link Oyster bracelets and some models have rubber Oysterflex bracelets. Some older models were paired with leather straps. 

These particular Daytona models have six-digit reference numbers that start with 1165xx (for example, 116520, 116523, and 116528).


Rolex Daytona Re. 116520

Rolex Daytona White Dial Ref. 116520

Six-Digit Daytona References

The earliest references of the six-digit Daytona series, released in 2000, were the following:

  • Daytona 116520: Stainless steel case, bezel, and Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116523: Two-tone case, bezel, and Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116528: Yellow gold case, yellow gold bezel, and Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116518: Yellow gold case and bezel, leather strap
  • Daytona 116519: White gold case and bezel, leather strap

All of these models featured metal bezels engraved with tachymeter scales. Rolex has since discontinued the above models, having replaced them with newer references.

In 2008, Rolex introduced the very first Daytona in Everose gold, which is the company’s proprietary rose gold alloy. A few years later, Rolex debuted the first Daytona with a bezel made from Cerachrom, which is the company’s proprietary ceramic alloy that is resistant to fading and scratching. To celebrate the Daytona’s 50th anniversary in 2013, Rolex unveiled a platinum Daytona with a brown Cerachrom bezel.

Interestingly, Rolex no longer offers a steel Daytona with a steel bezel but instead, a steel Daytona with a black Cerachrom ceramic bezel, which was released in 2016 and is by far the most popular modern Daytona in today’s market. Finally, in 2017, Rolex made the Oysterflex rubber bracelet an option in the Daytona collection (essentially taking over leather straps), paired with yellow gold, white gold, and Everose gold cases.

The current production Daytona references are as follows:

  • Daytona 116509 (introduced 2004): White gold case, bezel, and Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116505 (introduced 2008): Everose gold case, bezel, and Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116515LN (introduced 2011): Everose gold case, Cerachrom bezel, first with a leather strap and now with an Oysterflex strap
  • Daytona 116506 (introduced 2013): Platinum case, Cerachrom bezel, and platinum Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116500LN (introduced 2016): Steel case, Cerachrom bezel, and steel Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116503 (introduced 2016): Two-tone case, yellow bezel, and two-tone Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116508 (introduced 2016): Yellow gold case, bezel, and Oyster bracelet
  • Daytona 116518LN (introduced 2017): Yellow gold case, Cerachrom bezel, Oysterflex bracelet
  • Daytona 116519LN (introduced 2017): White gold case, Cerachrom bezel, Oysterflex bracelets

Rolex Daytona Retrospective Chapter 3 - Ref. 116500LN
Rolex Daytona Ref. 116500LN


Quick tip: if the reference number includes the letters “LN,” that’s short for “lunette noir,” which is French for “black bezel.”

There are also several gem-set Daytona watches, which are quite rare since they are produced in very limited quantities. Some examples of gem-set Daytona references include the following:

  • Daytona 116576TBR (introduced 2014): Platinum case, baguette diamond-set bezel
  • Daytona 116595RBOW “Rainbow” (introduced 2018): Everose gold case, multicolored sapphire-set bezel
  • Daytona 116578SACO (introduced 2019): Yellow gold case, cognac sapphire-set bezel
  • Daytona 116588SACO (introduced 2019): Yellow gold case, cognac sapphire-set bezel
  • Daytona 116588TBR “Eye of the Tiger” (introduced 2019): Yellow gold case, baguette diamond-set bezel


Collecting Modern Rolex Daytona References

Since the Daytona is now one of Rolex’s most popular models, it comes as no surprise that they command higher-than-retail prices on the secondary market. For instance, the steel and Cerachrom 116500LN retails for $14,550; however, these commonly sell for at least twice that on the collector’s market.



Rolex Daytona White Dila Ref. 116500LN

Rolex Daytona White Dial Ref. 116500LN


Another particularly popular modern Daytona reference is the yellow gold ref. 116508 with a green dial. While that particular model has a sticker price of $37,550, its current market value is around $100,000.

The least expensive six-digit Daytona models in the pre-owned market are generally the two-tone versions – although make no mistake, these also sell above MSRP. For instance, Daytona 116503 has a market value of around $23,000 compared to its retail price of $17,950.



Daytona Reference


Suggested Retail Price

November 2022

Average Market Price





























In short, if you’re unable to buy a Daytona from an authorized dealer due to the lack of supply, expect to pay much higher than retail prices for pre-owned examples in the market.

Rolex Daytona Ref. 116500LN Close-up


How To Use The Six-Digit Rolex Daytona Watches

Since six-digit Daytona references are automatic chronographs, they will keep on running as long as they are on your wrist (or stored in a watch winder). Caliber 4130 has a power reserve of three days or 72 hours. If the watch stops after being off your wrist for a while, you simply have to wind it up manually to get it started again.

How To Manually Wind An Automatic Daytona

  1. Unscrew the winding crown completely, then turn it several times clockwise
  2. A minimum of 25 turns is required for adequate partial winding
  3. Carefully screw the crown back down against the case to ensure
  4. Put it on your wrist and the watch will then be wound automatically

How To Set An Automatic Daytona

  1. Unscrew the winding crown and pull out to the first notch
  2. The small seconds hand will stop to allow setting the time to the precise second
  3. To adjust the hour and minute, turn the crown in either direction until you reach the correct time
  4. Once the time is set, carefully screw the crown back down against the case to ensure waterproofness

How To Use The Chronograph To Measure Elapsed Time On An Automatic Daytona

  1. Completely unscrew the pushers by turning them counterclockwise
  2. Make sure that the central chronograph seconds hand is stopped. If needed, stop it by pressing the upper pusher
  3. Press the lower pusher to reset the chronograph seconds hand and counters to zero
  4. Press the upper pusher to start timing
  5. Press the upper pusher again to stop timing
  6. Read the elapsed time
  7. The center seconds hand displays the elapsed seconds while the two counters at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock display the elapsed minutes and hours, respectively
  8. Screw the pushers back into the case by turning them clockwise
On a six-digit Daytona, the 30-minute counter is located at 3 o'clock, the 12-hour counter is located at 9 o'clock, and the running seconds is located at 6 o'clock. Therefore, when the central chronograph hand is activated, you can keep track of how many minutes and hours (up to 12 hours) have elapsed by looking at the hour and minute counters.

How To Calculate Average Speed On An Automatic Daytona

Thanks to its tachymeter bezel, the Rolex Daytona can be used to calculate average speeds per hour over a given distance, whether kilometers or miles.

  1. Once the chronograph pushers are unscrewed, press the lower pusher to reset the chronograph seconds hand and counters back to zero
  2. At the starting point of the distance to be covered, press the upper pusher to activate the chronograph to start timing
  3. When the distance has been covered, press the upper pusher to stop the chronograph timing
  4. The chronograph seconds hand indicates the average speed per hour on the graduated bezel
  5. Screw the pushers back into the case by turning them clockwise

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