2023 marks the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the crown jewel in the automotive endurance racing calendar and broadly considered to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) sporting events on Earth. This major anniversary has brought fanfare from nearly every corner of the motorsports world, but perhaps the most unexpected tribute of all comes from Rolex. As a tribute to 100 years of the race (and its own illustrious history at Le Mans), Rolex has unveiled the new Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN — a white-gold variant of the recently updated Daytona collection with a uniquely tweaked movement built to handle the grueling duration of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and sporting visual touches inspired by the legendary classic Daytona references worn by actor-turned-racer Paul Newman. Perhaps best of all, the new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN is no limited edition model or timed commemorative release — this is a permanent, regular-production addition to the Daytona stable (although given the state of modern Rolex, finding one at retail might still be a struggle).
Model: Cosmograph Daytona
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Case Material: 18k white gold/Cerachrom bezel
Strap/Bracelet: 18k white gold three-link bracelet
Crystal/Lens: Sapphire crystal
Movement: Manufacture 4132 Superlative Chronometer automatic chronograph movement
Power Reserve: 72 hours
Operating Frequency: 28,800 bph
Price & Availability: $51,400 USD, available now
Like the rest of the current Daytona lineup, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN uses a 40mm-wide case, rendered here in 18k white gold. All the usual Daytona accouterments are here, including the prominent crown guards, screw-down pushers, and tapering lugs, but this new model adds two interesting tweaks to the formula. The first of these two is subtle, adding a red “100” to the engraved Cerachrom bezel’s tachymeter scale in honor of the centenary of Le Mans. It’s a small pop of color in photos, but given Rolex’s conservative stylistic reputation, it’s a surprisingly sporty touch. The larger visual addition happens with the caseback. Like the current platinum Daytona, the ref. 126529LN sports a sapphire display caseback, which is a real rarity for Rolex in general. Like the rest of the line, however, this new model offers a solid 100 meters of water resistance.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN’s dial takes its inspiration from Paul Newman’s famous “reverse panda” Daytona, blending fan-favorite retro Daytona touches together with the line’s current aesthetic. While the sharp pointed applied indices, striped baton handset, and arcing red “Daytona” text are all modern Daytona series staples, Rolex visually reframes these elements in a more vintage-style context. The sunburst black dial surface, for example, gives the design some much-needed texture in images while remaining in line with the overall ‘70s-era visual ethos. It’s the recessed white subdials, however, where the ref. 126529LN truly takes a turn into classic Daytona territory. Rolex abandons the modern Daytona’s contrasting subdial rings here in favor of an old-school solid white look in photos, complete with a vintage typeface for the subdial scales and the “Paul Newman” Daytona’s trademark square-tipped markers. The 9 o’clock chronograph hours subdial adds another unique twist in photos – rather than the Daytona’s usual 12-hour scale, this subdial offers a full 24 hours of timing to cover the full duration of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In order to accommodate this new 24-hour chronograph, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN is equipped with the new in-house 4132 automatic chronograph movement developed specifically for this model. Outside of the modified chronograph complication, the 4132 is largely similar to the movement used in the rest of the Daytona series, including the brand’s unique Chronergy escapement and Paraflex shock absorption. Like all modern Rolex movements, the 4132 meets the brand’s stringent internal Superlative Chronometer standard for accuracy (rated at -2/+2 seconds per day), and a hefty 72-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate rounds out the specifications. The 4132 is also attractively decorated in photos, with a sunburst-finished 18K yellow gold cutout rotor, Côtes de Genève across the bridges, polished anglage, and a mainplate with perlage. Rolex pairs the Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN with a matching 18k white gold three-link Oyster bracelet.
With nods to both 100 years of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the brand’s own celebrated racing chronograph history, the new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN should stand as one of the sportiest and most crowd-pleasing offerings in the modern Daytona pantheon. The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529LN stands at $51,400 USD as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.