This solid platinum Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116506 caused a huge stir and ruffled a lot of Rolex enthusiasts and well-respected journalists when it debuted at the Baselworld Fair in 2013.
It was the 50th Anniversary of the Daytona and everyone anticipated, nay, expected Rolex to release an updated version in steel – perhaps fingers crossed, with vintage attributes. Instead, Rolex redefined the luxury tool watch category in a single piece.
With a heavy, 40mm case and bracelet made entirely of 950 platinum, an „ice blue“ dial and a „chestnut brown“ Rolex patented Cerachrom ceramic bezel this was then and remains an unexpected choice, which is why you should buy it. Like all modern Daytonas the 116506 is outfitted with the august caliber 4130 – an in-house, automatic, chronometer-rated, column-wheel chronograph movement – and Rolex’s patented screw-down, Triplock crown making it as technically sound as it is aesthetically unique. The hour and minute hands are 18 carat white gold and filled with Chromalight lume as are the baton hour markers. The white gold seconds hand is tipped with a small arrowhead reminiscent of every Daytona before it.
The „ice blue“ dial puts this 116506 into more avant garde(y) than vintage-inspired style territory but the „chestnut“ bezel brings it back a little bit as does a small design element that’s common to all Daytona Cosmographs: sub dials that in some way contrast the dial. In this case the numeral track is „chestnut brown“ to match the bezel and both the inside and outside edges are defined by 18 carat white gold rings.
In 1963 when the Cosmograph was brand new this might have seemed an odd design flourish but it was more utilitarian than fashionable. The watch was purposely designed for professional racing drivers to wear on-track to calculate speed and time laps during a race so at a glance contrasting dials were easier to read. riginally known only as the Cosmograph, the „Daytona“ moniker found it’s way to the dial in 1964 during the third year of Rolex’s sponsorship of what is now known as the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race – as with all Cosmographs since the late 1960s this 116506 characteristically sports „Daytona“ around the top of the sub dial located at the 6 position, which is something that still causes heart palpitations among Rolex enthusiasts. If ever there was a sartorially-minded tool watch, this is it – it’s the most precious of metals but has the subtle look and wearability of steel and an unusual color combination seen on the Daytona for the very first time.
This is the watch you buy because you can.
Aesthetically it’s unique, and among Rolex collectors deep into the passion it’s an important part of a collection. As an aside, in the mid-1960s full retail of a Daytona was $210 USD including federal tax, and jewelers were discounting that because no one wanted them. A vintage reference Daytona will set you back low-mid six figures at auction these days and that’s for a watch you wear gingerly or perhaps not at all. Platinum and all, the 116506 on the other hand is made to be worn hard and never give you a moment’s trouble. True nonchalance is putting on a luxury watch every day and going about your business never thinking twice about whether it’s keeping good time or whether it’s appropriate with your manner of dress, it’s just part of you, it’s your constant companion.
The 116506 is that watch in spades.