This year, 2023, is pretty unique for motorsport and Rolex. On one side, the legendary race of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is celebrating its 100th anniversary, as you can discover in this dedicated article. On the other side, Rolex’s most emblematic chronograph, a watch dedicated to motorsport, and seriously updated earlier this year, is celebrating its 60th anniversary. That’s of course the Cosmograph Daytona. Today Rolex goes out of its usual ways and release an original edition in honour of the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Of course it’s a Daytona and this new reference 126529LN is special on many levels… To name just one factor, it brings back some details of an iconic and highly-desirable “exotic” dial of the past (mostly the counters), also known as the Paul Newman dial. Yes, this is big news!
There’s a strong connection between Rolex and motorsport in general. It all started in 1930 when Sir Malcolm Campbell wore a Rolex Oyster while racing the Bluebird land speed record car at Daytona Beach in the US. In the field of endurance racing, the connection between Rolex and the Daytona International Speedway, and of course the Rolex 24 at Daytona, is pretty evident. After all, it is that very event that lent its name to the iconic Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, born four years after Rolex’s first association with the Daytona International Speedway. In 1992, Rolex became the title sponsor for the Daytona 24 Hours, which is now known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Rolex has also been the official timing partner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001. And in 2010, Tom Kristensen, 9 times overall Le Mans winner, joined as Rolex Testimonee. Rolex also became the official timepiece of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016, further engulfing the brand in long-distance road racing in the modern era. And for many years now, the winners of the legendary 24h race are receiving a specially-engraved “winner’s watch” based on the Daytona.
The new Rolex Daytona 126529LN, with Paul Newman-inspired dial
So here we are, with a new version of the Cosmograph Daytona, released only a couple of months after the collection has been revamped, with the release of the new generation. Of course, as you’d expect, this original version of the Daytona celebrating the centenary of the 24H of Le Mans is, technically speaking and on most design elements, based on the recently-updated edition of this chronograph. There are, however, several details to make it unique… and also truly desirable.
First, the case. The new Daytona 126529LN is a 18k white gold watch, using the redesigned case with a 40mm diameter and 12.20mm height. This original edition of the Daytona is also using the new bezel style, meaning a black ceramic insert framed by a thin band of 18k white gold. In the present context, the tachymeter scale is rendered in platinum via PVD, with the number 100 in red ceramic as a reminder of the race’s centenary. Other elements of the case are classic for this model, with screw-down Triplock crown, screwed pusher and sapphire crystal on top… But look on the back and you’ll see that the screwed back comes, just like the platinum edition, with a sapphire caseback revealing the Calibre 4132 (yes, not the 4131… more on that in a bit).
The dial of this new Cosmograph Daytona is the main attraction, and where you’ll most differences with all other versions of this racing chronograph. Here presented in a classic “panda” style, the base is so-called bright black with a discreet sunray-brushed effect, with bright white contrasting counters. Hands and applied markers are white gold, and filled with luminescent material.
But what makes this reference 126529LN truly unique are the sub-counters. I have dreamed of the comeback of the so-called exotic Paul Newman dial on a Daytona for years, with very little hope to ever see my dreams come true. But it is now clear that Rolex is more creative than it used to be, and doesn’t hide taking cues from the past (the thin band around the bezel was a first hint…) Now, we have a dial that features sub-counters using the highly recognizable style of the vintage Paul Newman or exotic dials, with its distinctive square-shaped markers and tracks. Also, another specificity of this new edition of the Cosmograph Daytona, it features a slightly different display, as the chronograph features a 24-hour counter at 9 o’clock, instead of the regular 12-hour counter. Of course, a nod to the legendary race and the title of Rolex as official timing partner and main sponsor since 2001.
This lightly retouched display also explains the name of the movement, now calibre 4132, an evolution of the recently-presented calibre 4131, itself an evolution of the calibre 4130 presented in 2000. To obtain this new 24-hour display, it now features an additional, patented mechanism made up of seven components, which could be likened to a differential redesigned by Rolex. This gear reduction system, which in technical terms is called an epicyclic reducer, halves the rotational speed of the gear train that turns the 24-hour hand. The morphology of the device enabled it to be integrated without the slightest change to the movement’s architecture. In fact, the mechanism simply replaces a transmission wheel, and its operation does not affect the performance of calibre 4132 in any way.
The movement of course benefits from the latest technologies of Rolex, including its patented Chronergy escapement with its efficient geometry. Made of nickel-phosphorus, this escapement is resistant to magnetic fields and is combined with a blue Parachrom hairspring made from a paramagnetic alloy. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, and the oscillator is mounted on Paraflex shock absorbers. Featuring a column wheel and vertical clutch, automatic winding with a newly designed rotor on an (upgraded) ball bearing, it can store 72h of power reserve. Visible though the caseback, it has the new decoration with Rolex Côtes de Genève and a yellow gold rotor.
This new edition is worn on a 18k white gold bracelet, with polished and satin-finished surfaces and closed by a Oysterlock folding safety clasp with Easylink comfort extension link.
Availability & Price
The new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona 126529LN is released as a non limited edition that will be added to the permanent collection. The price will be EUR 42,407 (excl. taxes). More details at rolex.com.