In 1963, Rolex first introduced the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch to meet the demands of professional racecar drivers for precisive timekeeping. Actors such as Paul Newman have made the Daytona series one of the most popular and expensive watches from the entire lineup of Rolex watches. When he appeared at the 1986 Oscar Awards to accept his trophy for his performance of The Colour of Money, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Panda watch became popularly known as the Paul Newman Watch. Again, in true Rolex fashion, it's not just a watch. It's also a status symbol. It is a long way from the humble roots this watch company came from since it was founded in 1905 by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis.
As a name, Rolex S.A. did not take the world by storm by coming up with as many firsts as they claimed to have achieved as a watchmaking company. However, the marketing genius backing their claims, plus the premium quality of workmanship that went into their watches is what made Rolex become one of the most elite brands of wristwatches ever to grace the wrist of its wearer. Before becoming Rolex, it was Wilsdorf and Davis, whose base of operations originated in London, England. At the time, the two men imported Hermann Aegler's Swiss movements to England and placed them inside the cases made by a few different manufacturers, including Dennison. As watches, they would be sold to many jewelers after installing the hallmark of W&D inside the case back and dials.
Going Swiss Oyster
After Wilsdorf registered the name of Rolex as the official brand of watches made by Wilsdorf and Davis in 1908, he opened up an office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. For Wilsdorf, the name Rolex was an easy enough brand name to pronounce in any language. As of November 1915, Wilsdorf changed the name of the company to Rolex Watch Co. Ltd., before moving the headquarters from London to Geneva, Switzerland in 1919. This was a move made after the British government burdened the business population with heavy transport taxes and duties after the conclusion of World War I. In 1920, the company's name was changed again to Montres Rolex S.A. before setting sights on the power of marketing. Knowing the watches made at the time were vulnerable to dust and moisture underneath the dial and crown, which compromised its movement ability, Rolex developed a new case that was designed to be dustproof and waterproof to provide optimal protection for the watch's movement. Once ready to be shown off in 1926, the company gave this new breed of watches the name "Oyster." To demonstrate the watch for the sake of marketing, Rolex hired British Olympian Mercedes Gleitz in 1927 to swim across the English Channel, sporting an Oyster on her necklace. The success of the event was highly publicized, which ultimately put Rolex on the map as a world-class watchmaking company that few can successfully rival.
Oyster Daytona Panda
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watch Paul Newman made famous is also referred to as a Rolex Daytona Panda. The original Paul Newman Daytona Panda watch the actor wore since it was given to him by his wife in 1968 was sold at the October 25, 2017 auction for a record-setting $17.75 million. The Wall Street Journal finally publicized the event, admitting the watched had been consigned to Phillips. When the bidding began at $10 million, it started a ten-person bidding war that ultimately saw a bidder on the phone win for himself what had become the most coveted watch of all time. The crowd of seven hundred watch collectors and enthusiasts were at the infamous auction, including the journalists, who came from all parts of the world to take part in this historical event.
On average, most of the 1963 to 1970 generation of Rolex Daytona Panda watches have seen prices soar to astronomical levels since the infamous auction event. According to JCK News, the associative model of the Paul Newman Rolex Daytona Panda watch was sold at $500,000.00 USD at an online auction in 2020. That particular Oyster watch was a 1971 Rolex steel Daytona 6263 model that featured a 37.5-millimeter diameter case watch and charmingly oxidized "Millerighe" screw-down buttons. The creamy white MK2 dial created a perfect harmony with the black registered and outer second track and black acrylic bezel.
At least a 2021 Rolex Daytona Panda watch seems more affordable as they're so far averaged at the price tag of $40,895.00 USD among Rolex-approved retailers. Rolex fully understands the power of marketing as the Daytona label is in direct reference to the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. This, plus the connection to Paul Newman, both as actor and racecar driver, continues to keep the Rolex brand name as one of the elite watches money can buy. This particular generation of the Rolex Daytona Panda watches comes with a self-winding chronograph movement feature and the caliber of 4130. This latest masterpiece of engineering and micromechanics brings forth the consistency of high-performance watches that continue to set this breed of Rolex watches apart from the rest of its impressive lineup.
Breaking Down the Specifics
- Movement - Automatic
- Caliber - 4130
- Power Reserve - 72 hours
- Jewels -24
Case Diameter Size - 40 mm
- Case Material - Oystersteel
- Bezel - Ceramic
- Water Resistance - 330 feet (100 meters)
- Crystal - Sapphire
- Dial - White
- Dial Numbers - None
- Strap Bracelet
Strap Bracelet - Oyster
- Strap Bracelet Material - Oystersteel
- Clasp - Oyster Folding Clasp
- Clasp Material - Oystersteel
Most of the Rolex Daytona watches, which began its production in 1963, are now dubbed Daytona Panda by watch collectors and enthusiasts due to the resemblance of a panda's face that is brought forth by the design of the white chronograph dial that features black sub-registers. In technical respect, the term Rolex Daytona Panda watches are referenced directly to the 6263 series and the 6265 series. Indirectly, the 6239, 6241, 6262, and 6264 series are also referenced to the Rolex Daytona Panda. No other Rolex-related index numbers can be properly referred to as a Daytona Panda watch. Each of them has been fitted with a white Paul Newman dial with black sub-dials and a white outer seconds track.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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