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Rolex Release Limited Edition Le Mans Daytona Celebrating 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary

Engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Centenary Edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2023 Winner Prize

Outside of the F1 circuit, probably the most famous motorsport race in the world is the 24 Hour of Le Mans. It’s a gruelling endurance race that has been taking place in north-west France since 1923, making this past weekend’s event the landmark 100th anniversary of the competition. As the official timing partner of the race since 2001, Rolex have created a pair of Le Mans Daytonas. One of the special editions was gifted the winning drivers while the Le Mans Daytona Ref. 126529LN is available for purchase.

Let’s focus in on those winner’s watches. Rolex haven’t given an exact reference number for them but all signs point towards them being based on the current Oystersteel edition Daytona that was launched earlier this year. Specifically, the one featuring a 40mm Oystersteel case with matching bracelet, a black cerachrom bezel and a black tricompax chronograph dial.

24 Hours le Mans Winners
Engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Centenary Edition 24 Hours Le Mans 2023 Winner Prize

Of course, what makes the prize models special is the Le Mans engraving on the caseback. It reads “Winners 2023 – 100 Years – 24h Le Mans” featuring the race’s logo surrounded by the victor’s laurel. It makes the watches incredibly special for their new owners, who include the Ferrari car 51 that crossed the line first. Perhaps cynically, the watches will also do amazingly when/if they show up at auction in about 20 years’ time.

The Daytona has a long history of being associated with motorsport. For one, it’s named after the iconic Daytona race and for two, it was the favoured watch of legendary actor and racing driver Paul Newman. That’s the kind of pedigree that Rolex are keen to preserve, which is why they want the watch to be associated with such a substantial motorsport landmark as the Le Mans centenary.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona M126529LN

Rolex Daytona Le Mans Ref. 126529LN

As a concept, the winner’s watches are really cool. However, what about the collectors who want the opportunity to show their passion for one of the greatest races in history with their wristwatch. Well, while the race was underway, Rolex announced an additional special edition would be released for sale, the Le Mans Daytona Ref. 126529LN.

Structurally the Ref. 126539LN is more or less identical to the winner’s edition with a 40mm white gold case. It’s also aesthetically similar but there are some notable differences. In particular, it’s styled after the iconic Paul Newman reference with an exotic dial. It’s a reverse panda colourway featuring a black base and white subdials.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona M126529LN
Rolex Cosmograph Daytona M126529LN

There are also a handful of Le Mans specific references to be found across the piece. The black cerachrom tachymeter bezel has a red 100 in honour of the centenary and instead of a 12-hour chronograph timer it has a 24-hour subdial. They’re subtle enough that the piece retains its Newman style while being the kind of details that Rolex forums and watch spotting sites will adore to pour over.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona M126529LN Caseback

Naturally, since the complications have been slightly updated from the standard Daytona with the adoption of a 24-hour timer, the movement housed inside has had to change too. It’s a variant of the familiar 4131 called the Calibre 4132. It has a precision of +/- 2 seconds per day with superlative chronometer status and a power reserve of 72-hours. What’s more, the movement itself is actually visible through a sapphire caseback, making it the second Daytona to have an exhibition back after the release of Ref. 126506.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona M126529LN

 As for pricing, its £43,300 making it the second most expensive Daytona launched in 2023. The only Daytona with a higher price is the aforementioned Ref. 126506 with platinum case. It kind of makes sense considering the mechanical alterations and fresh caseback, but it’s still a high price tag. If you look past the cost, it’s a fitting tribute to the race and a fabulous collector’s piece at the same time.

Price & Specs:

  • Model: Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Le Mans 
  • Ref: 126529LN
  • Case/dial: 40mm diameter x 12.20mm thickness, 18k white gold case, bright black gloss dial with white subdials
  • Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
  • Movement: Rolex calibre 4132, automatic, 47 jewels
  • Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
  • Power reserve: 72h
  • Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
  • Strap: 18k white gold bracelet with Oysterlock folding safety clasp
  • Price/availability: £43,300

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.