The greatest chronograph of all time gets a very cool special edition to celebrate the centenary of the greatest endurance race on the planet.
When Rolex became the official timekeeper of the Daytona International Speedway in 1962, the Swiss brand released the Cosmograph ref. 6239 (as made famous by Paul Newman) the following year to celebrate the occasion – however, it didn’t have ‘Daytona’ on its dial and was instead nicknamed ‘Le Mans’, after the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Later ref. 6239 models would indeed feature ‘Daytona’ text on their dials, but they were called ‘Le Mans’ first…
All this is to say that Rolex chronographs and Le Mans have long had an association, long preceding Rolex becoming the French race’s official timekeeper in 2001. To this day, wearing a Rolex Daytona instantly evokes the glamour and history of time-honoured motorsports events like Le Mans. That’s partly why the Rolex Daytona is such an icon.
Now, in 2023, Rolex has released a special version of the Daytona in honour of the 100th year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans that not only features unique nods to the endurance race but also pays homage to the now-legendary ref. 6239.
WATCH Rolex’s reveal of the Cosmograph Daytona 24 Hours of Le Mans Edition below.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 24 Hours of Le Mans Edition (ref. 126529LN-0001) features an 18ct white gold case and Oyster bracelet, a black dial and a black bezel. So far, so normal. But take a closer look and you’ll realise it’s something special.
First of all, its ceramic tachymeter bezel features the number ‘100’ in red ceramic, referencing Le Mans’ centenary. Even cooler is its white chronograph subdials, which with their square-tipped scales, clearly reference the design of the ref. 6239’s ‘exotic’ or ‘Paul Newman’ dials.
Flip the Le Mans Daytona over and you’ll see that it’s got a transparent caseback – but the really eagle-eyed will spot that it’s also got a unique and exclusive movement. This new in-house calibre 4132 allows the hours of the Le Mans Daytona’s chronograph function to be counted over twenty-four hours instead of the Daytona’s usual twelve – another nod to the race.
In short, it’s not just visually distinct but mechanically distinct from the normal Daytona, making this special edition really rather special.
DMARGE spoke with Paul Altieri, CEO and founder of leading Rolex marketplace Bob’s Watches, who was rapt to see this new Le Mans Daytona.
“Rolex does it again… Take my money now! What a sensational release [that] is expected to be a permanent addition to The Crown’s lineup… The reverse panda dial is a nice throwback to the vintage ref. 6263.”Paul Altieri
“We’ve often seen prices move higher in the category when a new model is unveiled. We will have to see what the premiums will be on the secondary market as getting your hands (or wrists) on one will be challenging,” Paul explains.
Australian pricing for the Le Mans Daytona has yet to be released but it retails for $51,400 USD in the United States (~$76,050 AUD). It’s not clear whether it’s a limited edition or a permanent addition to Rolex’s range, as Paul stated, but it will be very hard to get, that’s for sure… Find out more at Rolex’s online boutique here.