Presenting a simplified timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona from 1963 to present day

Presenting a simplified timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona from 1963 to present day

Here’s another one from the Vault: 1963 to 2020, a timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona.

Continuing our detailing of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, where we first talked about the Daytona Beach and the genesis of the racing and then introduced the key racers to have used the watch in their pursuit for excellence, we now take you straight to the watches themselves.

Enough of the races I say; let’s talk about the actual watches.

There have been plenty of model numbers and references such as calibre 4130 of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona.

To simplify this, and explain it clearly so that our readers —especially those who are new to this beautifully complicated world of watches — can easily distinguish between them, here’s the timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona.

1963 to present day – let the journey begin.


Starting with a tachymetric scale – that allows average speeds over a given distance to be measured using the chronograph seconds hand – on the bezel, and including a strong-contrast dial — black on a light-coloured dial or a light colour on a black dial — the Rolex Daytona has paved the way for iconic motor racing timepieces.

Somewhat along the lines of form follows function I would suggest, Rolex ensured that in the world of high-speed racing, these new features on the watch not only gave it a technical and sporty look but also ensured better legibility.

Given they would help professional drivers, the Rolex Daytona sat well with the expanding ‘Professional’ watch range that included the Explorer and the Submariner.

Cosmograph Daytona 1963 2
©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA, 1963

1963 – 1965

With the demand increasing, Rolex increased dial variations to include panda dials — seconds track on a contrasting band around the edge of the dial & squares on the markers in the counters — to this new range of professional watches.

And the world was given the ‘Paul Newman’ Daytona.

The dial is famous for not only adorning the wrists of a Hollywood legend but also due to the fact that it increased legibility under challenging race conditions.

This particular watch reference has become a grail for any collector and if you wish to find out more about it, Hodinkee has a great article covering the Paul Newman watch.

“It was characterised by the printed seconds track around the dial on a band of the same contrasting colour as the three counters. The graduations, in certain cases, were inscribed in red.”

Courtesy ©Rolex
A timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona

©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer


The quest for improving on their watch led Rolex to change the pump pushers found on the original model to screw-down chronograph pushers.

This helped prevent the pushers from being manipulated accidentally thereby eliminating the risk of water entering the case. This reinforced waterproofness of-course led to the now iconic writing of the word ‘Oyster’ on the dials next to ‘Cosmograph’.

Cosmograph Daytona 1965
©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA, 1965

But this is not the only difference between the 1963 and the 1965 models.

Another feature added was the black Plexiglas insert for the tachymetric bezel that had white graduations that again increased legibility.

This new Oyster Cosmograph Daytona was then introduced in an 18ct yellow gold version with the text “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” on the dial.

Cosmograph Daytona 1965 2
©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA, 1965


The quartz crisis hit the watchmaking industry soon after 1965. This new era for Daytona saw a few major changes:

  • New aesthetics
    • Oyster case was increased from 36mm to 40mm;
    • Tachymetric bezel was made wider and engraved with a 400-unit graduated scale;
    • New hands, new hour markers, new counters within banded circles were included
  • New movement
    • Self-winding new calibre 4030;
    • Featuring an oscillator with a variable inertia balance wheel;
    • Microstella regulating nuts;
    • Hairspring with a Breguet overcoil
  • Chronometer certification
  • Crown Guard
A timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA, 1988


Rolex continued to further improve the technical specifications of the Daytona.

In 2000, they introduced the new-generation self-winding chronograph movement: calibre 4130. The new calibre 4130 was entirely designed and manufactured in-house.

Aesthetically this new watch was faithful to the 1988 iteration, and maintained its subtle strong lines and perfect ergonomics.

Calibre 4130 also extended the power reserve from 50 hours to to 72.

A timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
©Rolex/Jean-Daniel Meyer CALIBRE 4130

Rolex says: “Calibre 4130’s performance stems particularly from the use of a vertical clutch to activate the chronograph function, instead of the traditional lateral clutch. This novel solution functions on the principle of two discs one above the other, which work together by direct friction contact, and offers significant advantages: extremely precise starting and stopping of the perfectly smooth-running chronograph seconds hand as soon as the pusher is pressed; and the ability of the chronograph to function for long periods of time without impacting on the precision of the watch.”

Another new feature introduced was the Parachrom hairspring that was manufactured by Rolex in an alloy of niobium, zirconium and oxygen.

This hairspring is not only better for shocks, temperature variations and magnetic fields resistance, it is also up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring.

2016 to present day

It was time for some aesthetic changes.

A high-technology monobloc Cerachrom bezel in black ceramic was now introduced in place of the engraved metal bezel.

This innovative Cerachrom bezel is extremely hard, thereby making it virtually scratch-proof. It also keeps its colour despite the effects of UV rays and it is corrosion-resistant.

A timeline of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
©Rolex/Alain Costa COSMOGRAPH DAYTONA, 2016

So there you go. That’s the evolution of Daytona in simplified form.

To find out more about the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and other watches by Rolex, head to their website here