Rolex Redesigns the Daytona for 60th Anniversary

Rolex has given the Daytona its first proper redesign since the 116520 was released in 2000. With it comes an updated movement, and a few nods to older references that we’ve been asking for, as well a surprise or two along the way. The new Daytona design replaces all existing references with a new base collection that spans from steel; yellow Rolesor; yellow, white, and Everose gold; and of course, platinum. Each receives an updated 4131 automatic movement which finally brings stuff like the Chronergy escapement to the collection. It also gets an openworked oscillating weight, which, for the first time ever on a Daytona, is visible through an exhibition caseback on the platinum anniversary reference. 

At a glance, the new Daytona doesn’t look all that different from the outgoing references. This is very much an iteration of the same concept that’s been evolving since 1953. The most immediately apparent departure from the prior generation is the thickness of the rings surrounding the sub dials, the shape of the hour markers, and the bezel construction. They add up to a notably different vibe that presents a slightly jarring take on the dial design thanks to the altered proportions. The thinner sub dial surrounds in particular highlight this difference, and it’s a detail most noticeable on the steel examples as they are contrasted against the dial color alone. The precious metal references get those sub dials filled in, which work well here.


One of the most welcomed changes in my book is the move back to stick style hour markers. Since 2000, the Daytona has featured smaller, boat shaped markers that never quite sat right in this design. The new markers get the same lume infill, but have been stretched to about double the length. This jives with the ‘Zenith’ Daytona 16520 last seen in the ‘90s, and of course all prior references. This is a small change that makes a big difference in not just the overall aesthetic, but also in the legibility of a dial that’s been rightly criticized for its sub-par legibility in the past. 

In another nod to the past, the ceramic bezel is now an insert into a re-designed bezel assembly, which thins out the proportions ever so slightly, and brings a touch of contrast to the very perimeter of the watch. It’s the same story with the precious metal references that can be paired with ceramic bezels, which is still limited to those on with Oysterflex straps, other than the single platinum reference. It’s worth noting the shape of the bezel on full precious metal examples gets a polished chamfer at its edge, creating a similar contrast as seen on this insert. It was the same story with the prior generation. 

Inside, the new Daytona receives the new 4131 automatic chronograph movement, an update to the outgoing 4130 movement that was also first introduced in 2000 (though has received myriad updates since). The 4131 gets the Chronergy escapement with its oscillator mounted to their Paraflex shock absorbers. Notably, Rolex states that they’ve reduced the number of components in the chronograph mechanism to improve wear to improve the long term reliability. These feel like the type of changes they consistently apply to their movements, making a big enough jump here to justify the new caliber designation.

This is the 60th anniversary of the Daytona, and they are celebrating in a similar manner to what we saw ten years ago with the 50th. There is a new full platinum reference 126506 with ice blue dial and brown ceramic bezel. What sets this particular reference apart from the others is its use of an exhibition caseback, a move slightly out of character for Rolex, but something they seem to be leaning into slowly, as this isn’t the only new release this year to feature one (more on the 1908 coming soon). You can read into this as you’d like, but it’s certainly something that’s been broadly requested by some buyers for many years. Another thing that’s been asked of the Daytona? A bigger case. Mercifully, Rolex have kept the Daytona in it’s near perfect 40mm frame, though I wouldn’t be surprised to find the exact dimensions skewing one way or another. 

We’ll know more later this week when we have a chance to go hands-on with the watch, where we’ll take the opportunity to compare it to the prior generation side by side. Until then, catch more details from Rolex, including updated prices, right here.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.