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The Underrated Daytona: The 116509

Yes, you are reading that right. There is, in fact, a modern, production Daytona that I believe is still 'underrated'. Outside of the Rainbow Daytona, there are only two modern Daytona's that I would buy. One is the full Everose Gold with black dial, and this is the other. I am of course talking about the White Gold Daytona.

Photo Credit: Watches by SJX and The Watch Club

This watch was actually released at Baselworld 2016 (R.I.P) and was released as part of a pair, alongside a full yellow gold version with a green dial. They were very subtly snuck into the Rolex catalogue, without much press or fuss made! Hodinkee did not even write an article about them, which is saying something. And since then they have remained relatively under the radar, with the spotlight still being firmly shone on the ceramic bezel variant which was released at the same time.

The 116509 has even survived being called out as a sleeper by none other than Mr John Mayer. In his Talking Watches 2, which I highly recommend you check out, he says exactly what I have said, that they are complete sleepers and at the time of them being released no one was bothered about them in the slightest. But if you watch the video below you can see for yourself!

If for some bizarre reason you do not want to watch the whole video, either for the first time or again (I cannot remember how many times I have now watched it), you can skip to 10:45 for the section about this watch.

The watch itself, at its core, is the same as any of the current steel Daytonas. It comes in a 40mm case, made of course entirely out of white gold. As per with all modern Daytona's, the scare down crown and pushers give 100m of water resistance. The movement inside is the same 4130 calibre used in the other Daytona's in the line-up.

For me this watch is the perfect modern Daytona. The iridescent blue dial against the shine of the white gold case works superbly. The subtle accent of the red around the inner tracks of the subdials and the Daytona text gives the watch a playful touch without making this a 'casual' watch. This watch is certainly as versatile as either of its ceramic bezel cousins.

The appeal of this model is it is what is called 'stealth wealth'. Any layman would look at it on the wrist or from a distance and just assume it is stainless steel. It is only the watch nerds that will truly know that it is in fact a hunking great chunk of white gold. It is worth noting that I am not averse to a bit of bling, considering a Rainbow Daytona is a grail... But let us be honest, a Rainbow is not in any way, shape or form a daily watch. It is a daily watch in the same way that Vilebrequin shorts and espadrilles are everyday attire. However, this 116509 most certainly is. The white gold at its core is unassuming, and despite having a slight sheen to it really is no different aesthetically to stainless steel. The steel bezel and oyster bracelet make this watch smart enough to wear with a suit and tie, and the iridescent, sunburst blue dial make this casual enough to wear at the weekend, even on a suede strap or nato perhaps??

The other thing that baffles me is the grey market price and availability of the 116509 at retail. Even for those of us (myself included) who are not in the market for a modern sports Rolex know that getting hold of one without having to spend a considerable amount of time on a waitlist just does not happen. This, in turn, means that grey and second-hand market prices for Subs, Daytona's, Sea Dwellers etc go a bit bananas. And this is certainly the case for the ceramic bezel references. However, and very surprisingly, this is not the case here for the 116509. At time of release, the retail price for a 116509 was £31,550. The really surprising thing here is that the few that can be found on the grey market are selling for less than that... A modern Rolex sports watch trading for LESS than retail, what in the world is going on?!

Perhaps even more surprisingly is the apparent availability of them. I know that there is a chance that the current global pandemic may have a role to play here, but having seen a couple on Chrono24 trading for less than retail, I decided to see what the state of play was if I was to try and buy one of these brand new. They can be found regularly through online retailers (Chrononext, Watches of Switzerland to name a few) to buy at the RRP of just over £31,000. Considering the fact that this is a white gold Daytona with a blue dial, a pretty sexy and universally appealing combination, this baffles me. If I had that sort of cash this would be a no brainer in my list of top 3 watches to pick up.

Ultimately, this watch is a relative value prop in the world of Daytonas. A precious metal Daytona that you can actually pick up new for retail and is relatively available is just bonkers. I really do not understand why more people haven't jumped on the bandwagon with these yet... but mark my words these will be big in the next 5-10 years, mark my words.

Felix Arnold

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