The most talked about watch brand, possibly even just brand full stop, have just done something pretty awesome. Rolex, the fun sponges of the watch world, who incrementally advance their watches millimetre by millimetre and have fans swooning, have actually gone and done something objectively cool, Rolex branding or not.
Rolex are synonymous with many sporting events, with their branding being seen anywhere from Formula 1 to Golf, to Tennis, the list goes on. However, one sport that Rolex are potentially most famous for their involvement in, is motor racing. Their latest release, an iteration on the recently introduced 126529LN, is to commemorate the 100th iteration of the world famous Le Mans race.
Some of the awesome cars which took part in this years race...
As per the recently introduced 4131 powered Daytona’s released this year, the new Limited Production shares the same 40mm case and Oyster bracelet as the new base Daytona, but with a few subtle differences, and a few pretty cool differences.
The handsome devil, the Rolex Daytona 126529LN...
The first main difference, which most people wouldn’t pick up on, is the case material. An ‘if you know you know’ detail, being that the watch actually comes in white gold, because why not? The other deviations from the standard Daytona are all nods to the heritage of Rolex and motor racing.
The introduction of the new Daytona at the beginning of March came with the introduction of a new movement to power the famous chronograph. The base caliber 4131 is much the same as its predecessor, the 4130, crucially with the maximum time it can track being 12 hours. Naturally, for a racing event that lasts 24 hours, how could you possibly time your race if not for your mechanical watch?! This clear shortcoming which I am sure resulted in outright carnage in previous years with people still driving the famous circuit days after the race has concluded. Luckily for all of those tardy drivers, this issue has finally been sorted by the good ol’ people at Rolex HQ. The movement in this Limited Production release is the caliber 4132, with the only discernible difference being a 24hr timing function to the chronograph.
The subtly updated and actually quite beautiful Caliber 4132...
The other main difference which I noticed straight away, and I am sure will also have caught the eye of vintage Rolex fans, is the dial. Whilst at a glance it may look like the standard Daytona dial, it is in fact a Paul Newman dial. A Paul Newman dial in a modern Rolex should be earth-shattering news, but whether it is due to people boycotting modern Rolex, or just being caught up in the myriad other releases currently, I do not think it is being spoken about as much as I would have expected.
Very obvious nods to the most famous Rolex dial ever made...
As you can see, the dial is certainly Paul Newman-esque, sharing a close resemblance to the dials found on 6263 models from years gone by. The watch community have been asking for a modern Newman dial Daytona for a long time now, and whilst sad that has finally come to market in an unobtanium Limited Production model, hopefully this paves the way for a Newman dial in a more ‘affordable’ Daytona at some point in the future. Thinking about it really should. Rolex probably wont say how many of these will be made per year, I would suspect very few and none of us mere mortals will ever get a chance to buy one... Given the wait list for a regular Daytona is 'X' years, the waitlist for this must be 'X' times a million.
Does the release of the new Daytona pave the way for clear casebacks becoming commonplace?
The other subtle but brilliant design change is the ‘100’ marker in the Cerachrome bezel has been highlighted in red to commemorate the 100 years of the iconic Le Mans race.
This watch comes in at a not unreasonable £41,000, which for a Limited Production Daytona in white gold seems pretty reasonable to me, that being said would you justify an additional £10,000 more to get this over a 116509? I would be hard pushed to choose between the two personally, however the provenance is certainly appealing. That being said, like with all Rolex releases that number is pretty arbitrary, as no doubt the grey market price will be close to double that I would expect.
All in all, and you can hate on them as much as you like, but credit where credit is due to Rolex on this one. A beautiful watch and a fitting tribute to a legendary race and a longstanding partnership. This came up in discussion in one of my watch group chats, and for me personally, this would be the modern Daytona to have, apart from the rainbow of course...
Editor & Founder
The Young Horologist