Daytona Rolex Vault

Need for speed – Iconic men, machines & the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, legends who wore it, and how Daytona got its name

Need for speed – Iconic men, machines & the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
©Getty Images/Central Press

This is the second article in our ‘Vault‘ series on the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. For the introductory one, please read here.

Between 1903 to 1935, the Daytona Beach became globally recognised as a destination to beat land speed records. Over 80 speed records were set here.

The records include names of the likes of William K. Vanderbilt, Barney Oldfield, Ralph DePalma and Henry Segrave.

Bluebird 1935
©Bettmann/Corbis BLUEBIRD 1935

One such attempt was made towards the end of this period.

Sir Malcolm Campbell, nicknamed the ‘King of Speed’ used his Bluebird car in an attempt to set the World Land Speed Record Daytona beach in 1935.

He was wearing a Rolex.

Telegram to Rolex, 1935

“Rolex watch worn yesterday during record attempt and still going splendidly notwithstanding rough usage received.” – Campbell

Courtesy ©Rolex
Sir Malcolm Campbell

Rolex offers: “Since 1930, Campbell had been wearing a Rolex Oyster, the watch on his wrist during the exploit. In advertisements at the time, he attested to its exceptional resistance to shocks and vibrations. Thus, the first Rolex Testimonee in motor sport was already closely tied to Daytona.”

Ever wondered how the Daytona got its name? Well, Rolex has the answer.

“William France, Sr, a great admirer of Sir Malcolm Campbell, also wore a Rolex. He appeared in an advertisement for the brand in the early 1960s mentioning Rolex as the Official Timepiece of the Daytona International Speedway. From the first editions of the Daytona Continental, the winners have received a Rolex watch in addition to the trophy. At the launch of the Cosmograph, designed for racing drivers, the watch naturally became the supreme prize awarded to the champion. And not long afterwards, to emphasise the brand’s connection to the American racetrack, Rolex named the model the Cosmograph Daytona.”

So there you go, an amazing way to come up for the name of such an iconic watch that has undergone various iterations since 1963 but has never lost its superior edge.

Before we wrap this one up, no article talking about these amazing races and their drivers is complete without at-least mentioning Sir Jackie Stewart & Tom Kristensen.

Jackie Stewart
©Getty Images/Tony Duffy

Sir Jackie Stewart was born in Scotland in 1939 and is one of the most celebrated Formula 1® drivers of the last 50 years.

A Rolex Testimonee since 1968, he is praised for his commitment to driver safety in motor sport. Professionally, Sir Jackie Stewart has taken part in 99 Formula 1® Grand Prix races, out of which he won 27, and carried off three world championships (1969, 1971 and 1973). Not only this, he finished a staggering 43 times on the podium!

Besides the Daytona races, another iconic motorsport race is that of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Most readers might know this courtesy of the ‘King of Cool’ Steve McQueen, and the other iconic race watch – Heuer Monaco – he wore.

One of the all time greats for the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a Danish racing driver called Tom Kristensen.

Not only did he manage to win nine times between 1997 and 2013, he also holds the record for maximum wins. Appropriately named “Mr Le Mans”, he has also won six times at the 12 Hours of Sebring. He is also a Rolex Testimonee since 2010.

“Each driver wants to win ‘his’ Rolex Daytona.”

Tom Kristensen Courtesy ©Rolex
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
©Rolex/Sébastien Agnetti

“Motor sport is all about getting the best out of your machine through optimization and technology, and anyone who is interested in that is also interested in mechanical watches,” says Tom Kristensen.

“Ask anyone in the motor sports world to name a watch and the first to be mentioned is bound to be the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona… It has a history and class around it that everyone trying to aim for the top in motor sport understands and respects.”

Keep peeled for our detailed hands-on review on the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.

To find out more about the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, head here

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