DAYTONA CHIC - WINGING
Bit under the cosh as it goes. Watch-style stuff for newspaper not finished, so gonna swiftly bang something out about Daytona scene and then pull my 'pusher' out, (watch gag). Am slightly winging it as am over deadline to tell truth. Did however managed to file a piece about the Rolex Daytona and why it remains so very sought after. Its status is not simply down to Paul Newman's patronage in the 1969 motor-racing film Winning (click) and its promotion, but it didn't half help.
Paul Newman in Winning, 1969.
Rolex's only chronograph, The Daytona Cosmograph, came out in 1963, but was never very popular back in The Sixties. It was a windey, and there are reports of people returning them after a day an a half when they stopped. People wanted an automatic Roley. Rolex didn't make very many of them. They didn't really market it either because the movement was made by Valjoux, a subsidiary of ETA, the Basque Separatist horologists movement (click). This meant Rolex didn't feel it was really their watch. Then in 1969 while promoting Winning, Paul dropped a Daytona on the cover of an Italian magazine of his own volition and the Italians went Radio Rental for it (who incidentally didn't stock it as it had been discontinued).
Cool-Wrist Luke : A 'Paul Newman' Rolex Daytona.
An out of production and instantly iconic watch became a must have piece for many kettle-heads. It is a great looking watch too, which helps. Clean, space-age instrument like. Much like the race suits in the film, which is sort of exciting on a man-kit level to many. The serial numbers become quite relevant with these Paul Newman Daytona guys, all four digit ones bode well for example. The left hand sub dial, the second counter, has numerals at 60, 15, 30, and 45, not 60, 20, 40 like 'normal' ones. Also, the P.N. one has little pyramids instead of batons as markers. Madness eh? Daytonas of varying degrees of cred go from between £15k-£100k now.
Good-old-Newman: authentic denim eyes.
The Daytona was eventually 'oystered-up' (waterproofed), but these meant all the pushers had screw down crowns, which was a right pain for a windey, see. Then they made it automatic, but by this time it meant that was a whole load of inscriptions and printing all over the thing that used to just say Rolex Daytona Cosmograph. Much better.
Rolex Daytona: New-One.
It remains that the steel Daytona is the one to have, and the plot continues to thicken, as even the modern production ones continue to be scarce and command a higher value that retail. Stretch tells me they go for about £8.5k-£9k down Hattons new, where as they're £7, 400 off the manufacturer. Roley limit how many they produce though, and they won't even say how many that is, the tricky so and sos. I spoke to James Dowling, an actual Rolex Historian about this whole caper.
“The current story is still all about supply and demand” Dowling tells me, “It’s the most complicated watch Rolex make (until the recent Sky-Dweller). They can make a finite number of these movements in house per year, so economic sense says put them in gold or steel/gold cases so they can extract a comparatively huge premium, (than in a steel case). All the answers about Daytona’s are about economics.”
Bloody cheek. It's still their only Chrono, and it remains on many kettle-fans wish list whether P.N. style or not. Its a certain sort of 'Euro-flash but not-quite' look. Nicholas Sarkozy famously loves his Daytona for example. The old 'Panda-style' set up with black sub-dials does look best though, surely. Don't know why Roley can't consider doing a retro-yet-modern looking number. Other watch brands do, don't they? It's interesting the excitement and cache is about the steel version and not flashy gold or bi-colour ones. Inflated prices or not, for many fellas the Daytona remains a stylistic-steal (second watch gag).
What's more interesting is perhaps that after training with proper Indie 500 drivers and cars to do the film, Newman got properly sucked into the sport. What's more, the actor was actually dead good at it. He began racing seriously. He began winning races. Now that's method-living on a different level.