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Rolex Updates the Daytona for 2023 with Their First Sapphire Caseback

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Platinum 126506

Speculation has been at fever pitch this year for what the Watch with the Crown would release next; after last year’s less-than-stellar showing it needed to be a good one. And now here we are, kicking things off with a revamp of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Paul Newman’s favourite timepiece, Rolex has opted not to release some commemorative limited edition, but instead revisit the collection as a whole for the first time in (some might say) far too long. So, let’s jump into just what that means for the legendary racing chronograph.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Oystersteel 126500 LN

This isn’t a drastic reimagining of the Rolex Daytona, so you purists on there still on the wait list for the older version don’t need to panic just yet. It’s more of a refinement, one which on the dial means a shifting of balance. It’s subtle, but the revisited contrast subdial rings and slimmer, longer hour markers make for a much more elegant overall look.

The same can be said of the case, which, in keeping with how Rolex updated the Air King last year, has been updated with polished on the sides of the lugs and mid-case. In short, they’re bringing the whole thing in line with the rest of the Rolex collection – and it’s damn lovely. Like any change to the Rolex status quo, the changes will divide opinion a bit, but I reckon they’re relatively safe here.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Sapphire Caseback

Speaking of bringing things in line, the movement has finally been updated to the 4131, a chronograph evolution of the 4130, complete with the Chronergy escapement, Paraflex shock absorbers and Parachrom hairspring that keep it ticking for 72 hours. All the modern bells and whistles. But that’s not all – there’s also a more-than-respectable level of finishing. And yes, we know that because it’s actually visible through the sapphire caseback.

A Rolex with their first ever exhibition caseback? Insanity. But insanity laced with Rolex’s own spin on Côtes de Genève and a cut-out rotor. It’s gorgeous, in a clean, precise way. Here’s hoping this is the start of more literal transparency from Rolex. Unfortunately here, that’s only on one variation – which we’ll get to, don’t worry.

Titanium may be one of the material headliners for Rolex this year (and admittedly something I was hoping to see here), but there’s plenty of other metallurgical loveliness to appreciate here, too. The Cerachrom (ceramic by any other name) bezels are as hardwearing as they come and edged in case-matched. Otherwise, there’s a healthy mix of precious metals, which brings us to the colourways.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Oystersteel 126500 LN
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Osytersteel Gold 126503 (2)

First up, we have the version that waiting lists along the world will stagger under, the Oystersteel. With a white dial, black subdial rings and a matching black ceramic bezel with silver numbering, it’s the perfect encapsulation of the Rolex Daytona racing style. I want it. You want it. The world wants it.

Then we have a retro bi-colour version, again with a white dial but swapping black for gold across the board and filtering that through to a Rolesor bracelet and gold crown-pusher combo.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Everose Gold 126505
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Gold 126518 LN

Next up, the full gold editions. On the one hand we have full rose gold with a black dial and Everose gold subdials – no rings here, just your usual full subdials – and a full gold bracelet. It’s a lot of metal, as is the full yellow gold version.

Although that version instead switches things around with a yellow gold dial and black subdials, complete with a black ceramic bezel, making it more than a straight-up metal swap. It’s also equipped with an Oysterflex bracelet. Why that’s not an option across the board would be the work of a mad genius to work out, but it’s good to see one of the coolest, most comfortable strap options in watchmaking get more love.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Platinum 126506

Finally, we have the platinum. How do we know it’s platinum? The blue dial. It’s basically a signature for the most precious of precious metals. This is also the version of the new Cosmograph Daytona with the exhibition caseback which honestly will pump up it’s value more than the metalwork. Although the stock shots don’t do it justice, the bezel is also chestnut brown rather than black, though by this point that’s really just the icing on the 60th birthday cake.

There’s plenty more Rolex newness for 2023 just announced, so stay tuned.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
  • Ref:126506 (platinum)
    126500 LN (stainless steel)
    126503 (stainless steel & 18k yellow gold)
    126518 LN (18k yellow gold)
    126505 (18k Everrose gold)
  • Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 11.9mm thickness
    Platinum case, chestnut brown Cerachrom bezel, ice blue sunray gloss dial (126506)
    Oystersteel (stainless steel) case, black Cerachrom bezel, white lacquer dial (126500 LN)
    Oystersteel (stainless steel) and 18k yellow gold case, 18k yellow gold bezel, white lacquer dial (126503)
    18k yellow gold case with golden gloss sunray dial (126518 LN)
    18k Everose gold case with bright black sunray gloss dial (126505)
  • Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
  • Movement: Rolex calibre 4131, automatic, 47 jewels
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
  • Power reserve: 72h
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
  • Strap: Stainless steel & platinum bracelet (126506)
    Stainless steel bracelet (126500 LN)
    Stainless steel & 18k yellow gold bracelet (126503)
    Elastomer strap (126518 LN)
    18k Everose gold bracelet (126505)
  • Price/availability: Price on request (126506)
    £12,700 (126500 LN)
    £16,400 (126503)
    £25,800 (126518 LN)
    £35,800 (126505)

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About the author

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.