Rolex Daytona Replica: A 53-Year History

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The Daytona International Speedway has been in operation since 1959.

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For most of Rolex’s history, chronographs took a back seat to three-handed models. The company did produce some chronographs, but equipped them with third-party calibers that ticked in conventional, classic cases, not its well-known Oyster case. Rolex introduced its first Oyster-cased chronograph during WWII, but it was anything but a hit.

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In 1955, Rolex Replica launched its Reference 6234 chronograph. Neither “Cosmograph” nor “Daytona” appeared on the dial; the watch was simply labeled “Chronograph.” Rolex made about 500 of these watches each year until 1961, when the reference was discontinued. The watch sold for about $200 in the early 1960s. This model wasn’t very successful, either: it and other early Rolex chronographs often languished on dealers’ shelves because other manufacturers had long since established themselves as chronograph specialists. Nowadays these so-called “Pre-Daytonas” are rare and desirable: $20,000 is merely the entry-level price for one of these hard-to-find models with a silver or black dial and stainless-steel case.

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The newer route of the Daytona racecourse, which formed an elongated oval with a slight bend in it, ran partly across the beach and partly along the oceanfront roadway. It wasn’t until 1959 that the race was run solely on asphalt: namely, at the newly opened Daytona International Speedway.

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Paul Newman Daytonas can change hands at auctions for as much as $100,000. But there are obvious differ- ences between them. The original Paul Newman watch had a white dial with black elapsed-time counters and large, easy-to-read numerals in art deco style.

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The other dial variation, which has small and simple numerals in the subdials, can be bought for prices ranging from $20,000 to $30,000. The increase in value is immense: these cheap replica watches sold at auctions in the late 1980s for the equivalent of $3,000 to $4,000. That means their price has increased nearly tenfold since then.

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If you’re thinking about buying a Paul Newman Daytona, be careful. It’s relatively simple for a crook to convert a standard Daytona into a “Paul Newman”: experts believe that more counterfeit Newman dials are in circulation than genuine ones. And some seemingly complete luxury replica watches aren’t entirely original, i.e., they’ve been cobbled together from various individual components.

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All classic, hand-wound Daytonas contained the Valjoux Caliber 72 in one of its variations. Rolex comprehensively reworked this caliber, equipping it, for example, with the brand’s own shock-absorption device. This caliber was produced in large series, which makes counterfeiters’ lives easier: they can find it inside diverse no-name chronographs, which they can buy for a few hundred dollars. (But there’s an advantage to a caliber that was produced in large series: spare parts for the movement are relatively easy to find.) The differences among the several caliber variations are apparent only under close scrutiny. Watches purporting to be Daytona models should therefore be purchased only from reputable auction houses or dealers. You can also send the watch to Rolex, where the company’s experts can substantiate its authenticity or unmask it as a fake.

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Rolex Replica Watches switched to screw-in push buttons with the debut of Reference 6240 in 1965. These seal the watch’s case nearly as hermetically as the Oyster models without a stopwatch function. The bezel of Reference 6240 was black with an acrylic inlay. Reference 6262, which was manufactured in one year only, 1970, and is therefore extremely rare, marked Rolex’s return to an engraved steel bezel and to unthreaded push buttons. The movement was also modified: Rolex raised the frequency of the Valjoux caliber from 18,000 to 21,600 vph.

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