One of the most common questions at Baselworld 2013 was "what is up with the blue and brown color scheme of the new Rolex Daytona?" It was a fair question. Rather than present a totally new Daytona as many people were expecting (something that Rolex themselves found amusing) for the iconic model's 50th anniversary, Rolex released a solid platinum version of the existing Daytona watch with an "ice blue" dial matched with a brown ceramic bezel and chronograph subdials (Rolex Daytona ref. 116506). What was that all about?
Some people found the new colors to be audacious, and others felt it bodacious. Personally? I sort of secretly loved it. Rolex claimed that blue is a color they match with platinum. It also happens to be a color they match with 18k white gold as well as steel. But true enough, a lot of their platinum watches (think Yacht-Master and Day-Date) have icy blue dials. Brown, on the other hand, in ceramic is a new color for Rolex. In addition to the first ever bi-colored ceramic bezel on the new GMT-Master II Day/Night, the brown colored ceramic bezel on this new Daytona is a fresh thing for 2013.
I personally think Rolex paired brown with this particular shade of blue because of Paul Newman. Now, of course, Paul Newman is an important guy for Rolex because of the famed "Paul Newman Daytona." One of the most celebrated Daytona models around, the Paul Newman Daytona is a sweetheart at auctions. Rather than recreate a Paul Newman Daytona dial (again), Rolex paid homage to the late actor's famous blue eyes. In his youth he had brown hair, and for me the blue and brown dial mixes well with the imagery many people have when they think of Paul Newman in his earlier days. Even as an old man, Newman's face was marked by his striking blue eyes.
At 40mm wide, the Cosmograph Daytona is a medium sized watch, and among the smaller sport chronographs out there. Nevertheless, in solid platinum (with a bracelet) this is among the heaviest watches I have ever worn. Platinum is not exactly my favorite luxury metal, but I can certainly appreciate why people like it. While it does have a distinct color, I prefer 18k white gold if you must have your precious metal more or less "steel colored." Platinum is heavy, hard to machine, easily scratched, and rare. People love platinum perhaps because of its quirks and rarity. Its weight is also one of the classic signals of a fine watch, where heft was a sign of good metal.
Little "inside Rolex" tip that I had to learn myself recently (thanks Rolex): there is a special way to tell if a Rolex watch is a platinum model. You need to look at the crown. Under the Rolex crown logo are three small dots. On models which are in platinum, the two outer dots are sized larger than the middle dot. This is probably very common knowledge among Rolexophiles, but I wasn't privy to this little fact until now.
In platinum, the Daytona is rendered just as you would expect. The lines are smooth where there are curves, and sharp where angled. Once again, Rolex metallurgy and machining show their prowess. The Daytona bracelet has a polished center link and case. Polished platinum has a lovely quality that is often more milky than it is reflective. Though it does pick up fingerprints easily. The Daytona has a great deployant clasp and comfortable bracelet. It is not uncommon for people to buy Rolex watches for their bracelets alone (as they aren't sold separately, ever).
How do I feel about brown ceramic? It is fine. Brands are working very hard on trying to get more colors out of ceramic. So far other than white, light colors don't look very good - being blotchy and washed out. Right now darker colors such as black, blue, and brown look decent in ceramic. I really look forward to seeing more ceramic colors soon. We all know that Rolex is investing heavily into ceramic, so perhaps they will succeed where others have failed.
Rolex released the very first Daytona models with a ceramic bezel two years ago. It was a black ceramic bezel, and ironically one of them was matched to a "chocolate" brown dial. But this 2013 model has the first ever brown ceramic bezel. It is a deep brown, and in the right light it would look black. The metallic ice blue dial is beautiful, and I agree that from an aesthetic standpoint it matches brown much better than black. Though I bet it would look nice with a blue ceramic bezel. Think of that: platinum case, deep blue bezel and light blue dial. You could even put it on a blue alligator strap. That would look classy...
Anyhow, the chronograph subdials are framed in a perfectly matching brown tone, and this Daytona dial has stick-style hour indicators. There is just that hint of red in the Daytona label on the dial. As always the dial looks great - legible and beautiful. So strange in a way to have a sport watch in all platinum. But the Daytona is as much a sport watch as the Submariner is a watch only used by the professional diver.
Inside the Rolex Daytona is the in-house made Rolex caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement - and it is COSC Chronometer certified. The rear of the case - like all Rolex watches - is totally blank. The blue and brown color scheme of the 116506 Daytona may be an acquired taste but I like it. The same way I liked the green dialed Submariner - and some people did not. Remember that this solid platinum Daytona is Rolex's salute to the 50th anniversary of the Daytona in 2013. In a way it makes sense that they did not totally overhaul the Daytona this year, even though the model is certainly due for an evolution. Perhaps this is how the current generation Daytona will welcome in a new model next year or sometime soon. Price for the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116506 is 71,500 Swiss Francs. rolex.com