This article was first published on Issue #69 of World of Watches.
When we first saw the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona at Watches and Wonders Geneva earlier this year, we thought it was the standout from the assortment at Rolex. That effectively means it would be one of the world’s most talked about watches this year. If you scan just the pages of our summer issue for World of Watches, you might begin to think that this may be true. To make a long story short, it is not — while the 60th anniversary of the world’s most important chronograph sees the watch on the podium, the comments sections on the Internet are very keen on two colourful stablemates.
The world has been here before, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Cosmograph Daytona. The special platinum version of the 2013 chronograph eventually proved to be very influential. Bear that in mind when looking at the 2023 version with its remarkable exhibition caseback (a first for the collection). The platinum model, reference 126506, is primarily a reference to the 2013 model, also because the aforementioned exhibition caseback allows us to talk directly about the new calibre 4131. This new calibre features the Rolex Chronergy escapement and other small improvements (reportedly to the self-winding system) but the official specifications remain unchanged.
To begin with, the watch retains all its signature features and does not see the introduction of a date mechanism or anything drastic like that. There is still enough that is different about this new reference, some of which are surprising. Space is certainly one area we can get into, because although the published specifications remain 40mm, the watch feels larger. The new collection does play with spaces everywhere, including the subdials whose tracks are now noticeably slimmer. The case itself is slimmer than the outgoing model, but the specifications say nothing about this.
It should be noted that the visual and tactile changes will only be obvious to people who have worn and handled the latest reference and the outgoing one. If you have experience with more versions of this storied chronograph, you will have a deeper appreciation for the evolutionary journey of the Daytona even if you do have a favourite set of features. If you are totally new to the Daytona, then this will not matter at all. In fact, things will be clearer in some ways because Rolex is moving towards standardising elements of the Daytona, including the shape of the lugs (now symmetrical in all versions).
The bezel ring, an immediately recognisable change for 2023, is also consistent throughout the range of five current model references. This ring is in the same material as the case, although models with precious metal bezels will obviously not have this feature. Where it is deployed, the bezel remains completely in Cerachrom, not as an insert — it has just gotten a frame now, possibly for protective reasons but this is merely speculation on our part.
All photos courtesy of Rolex.
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