Rolex Introduces A New Daytona In Celebration Of 100 Years Of Le Mans – & We Kind Of Like It!

by Matt Clymo

A few days ago, Rolex dropped a new Cosmograph Daytona just in time for the historic 100th anniversary of Le Mans – the iconic 24 hour race that has born many a race legend, and watch models along with it. Instead of just running through the specs of the watch, we thought now that the dust has settled we would give you our verdict on the new release.

A Little Bit Of History First…

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona was originally launched in 1963, with this year marking the 60th anniversary of the watch. Whilst “Daytona” wasn’t originally on the dial of the very first reference (The Rolex Cosmograph ref. 6239), and in fact early Rolex ads called it the “Le Mans”, the watch quickly became synonymous with motorsport and of course Dayton: Both the 24 race and the tests of speed at Daytona Beach.

An original Rolex Cosmograph ref 6239 without the “Daytona” on the dial.

Somewhere in the mid 60’s Daytona is added to the dial due to Rolex’s official partnership with the race and we see the likes of Paul Newman wear the watch, now the classic reference “Paul Newman Daytona”. Whilst not one reference can be attributed as the Paul Newman Daytona, you can find Paul Newman’s in references 6239, 6241, 6262, 6264, 6263, depending on the year and dial configuration. Paul Newman owned and wore both a Reference 6239 and 6263, with the original 6239 selling at Auction in 2017 for around $17 million USD.

Paul Newman’s own Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Reference 6239 (photo by Henry Leutwyler for WSJ Magazine) that sold for US $17.7M in 2017

2023 “Le Mans” Daytona

There’s too much history on the Daytona for us to cover here, so let’s fast forward to 2023, where this year we see the 60th Anniversary of the Daytona. Watches and Wonders took many by surprise with the release of the new Daytona references, which you can read about here, with redesigned features and even a sapphire crystal case back (a first for the brand) on the re-vamped Platinum Daytona. Just when you thought we had seen it all, Rolex, as it likes to do, surprises us again with yet another variant of the Daytona, this time linking it with the 24 hours of Le Mans, and delivering a vintage inspired watch.

The new Rolex Daytona “Le Mans” 100th Anniversary edition

The new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona this time comes in 18k white gold, adding to their precious metal Daytona line up already in Rolesor, Yellow Gold, Platinum and Everose Gold. This is a good move for the brand as it does set it apart from the much sought after steel version collectors and enthusiasts (and flippers) can’t get enough of. And perhaps, it does give people who have the cash another option to get the watch, albeit with a slightly different look, that matches the price tag of over $70,000 AUD.

In a nod to the 100th Anniversary of the 100th running of the 24hr of Le Mans, Rolex have coloured the “100” on the Tachymeter scale in red ceramic, matching the red Daytona writing on the dial. It’s a nice subtle touch that doesn’t distract from the style or design of the Daytona, and would give wearers and observers that “If you know, you know” vibe.

A subtle nod to the 100th Anniversary of the 24 hour race

In addition to this, Rolex have chosen to give the new variant vintage styled chronograph counters, and when you look at the vintage Daytona’s from the 60’s, its easy to see the 60’s style cues coming through. Comparing this to the new models released earlier in the year at Watches and Wonders, I can’t help feel this Le Mans edition looks better, it’s more classic and the dial seems more balanced with the solid white dials as opposed to the new thinner sub-dial rings.

Vintage inspired sub-dials with the 24 hour counter

Under the hood, or through the display case back as it were, is a variation of the new 4131 movement found in the standard Daytona models. The Rolex calibre 4132 is a modified 4131, due to the fact that this model has a 24hr counter, as opposed to the 12hr dials found on it’s slightly older siblings. Measuring 24hrs means some subtle changes to the movement, by means of an additional, patented mechanism made up of seven components, which could be likened to a differential redesigned by Rolex. In simple terms, it’s a gear reduction system which halves the rotation speed of the gear train that drives the 24 hour counter.

The new 4132 movement with gold rotor
Close up of the gear reduction system

The movement is a good looking movement, and for the price tag, looking at the movement should be a given, and thankfully Rolex agrees. The bridges of calibre 4132 feature a Rolex Côtes de Genève decoration, which differs from the traditional Côtes de Genève by the addition of a slight polished groove between each band, and the rotor is cut-out 18k yellow gold.

The see through case back is a nice touch on the new Daytona

The rest of the watch is typical Rolex and typical Daytona. The Cerachrom bezel, glare proof sapphire crystal, 100m water resistant and Triplock winding crown with Oyster case make this a true sports watch. Combine this with the sunray black dial, white gold hands and indices with Chromalight lume and you’ve a the quintessential Rolex.

Final Thoughts

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is a classic, and highly sought after for a reason. It transcends time and trends, and with this edition celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Le Mans, it gives you a modern Rolex with some great vintage vibes. It’s almost like taking the best of the 60’s style and fusing it with the technology of 2023.

The proportions look better than the 126500LN launched in March due to the full white vintage dials, and the 24 hour counter is a nice touch linking to the original 1963 version, and personally, the red ceramic 100 on the tachymeter dial is a cool touch. At 40mm diameter and 12.2mm thick, it should wear as well as any other Daytona and if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, (and this is THE one to get!) then hold on to it as this could be a future collectible. Whilst its not limited, we can’t help think that production of this specific version will be low. Time will tell…

References: 126529LN


  • Case: 40mm
  • Case Material: 18k White Gold, polished finish with Oyster case construction.
  • Dial: Bright black, gloss, sunray finish; intense white counters. Hour markers in 18 ct white gold, highly legible Chromalight
  • Crystal: Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water resistance: 100 m (10ATM)
  • Movement: Calibre 4132 with 24hr counter, beating at 28,800 Vph (4Hz) accurate to -2/+2 sec per day.
  • Power reserve: 72 hours
  • Bracelet/Strap: Oyster bracelet in 18 ct White Gold. Oysterlock folding safety clasp with easylink comfort extension link (approx. 5 mm)

International Recommended Retail Price: USD $51,400

Availability: TBA

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