The enduring popularity of the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona is an interesting phenomenon in the watch industry. Very few timepiece designs have been so versatile and popular for a range of style, people, occasions, and even budgets (luxury budgets, that is). Not that many people actually use Rolex’s popular chronograph watch as a stopwatch anymore, but the dial-within-dial design of this classic sports watch has made it an icon of luxury and success for decades, and for 2021, Rolex returns a classic luxury execution of the Daytona with meteorite dials.
Meteorite dials are nothing new at Rolex or in the watch industry in general, but they hardly seem to lose their appeal. The reason for this is two-fold in my opinion. First is that the organic crystalline metallic aesthetic of meteorite is visually attractive while also still masculine. Organic textures in wristwatches are still very popular, and meteorite hits a sweet spot with many consumers. The second reason for the appeal of meteorite is more emotional. Items with rare or precious materials are a cornerstone of the luxury watch space, and the idea that a watch dial is made from a piece of falling space rock has a lot of intellectual and emotive appeal for many consumers.
For now, Rolex only pairs meteorite dials with precious metal cases. Accordingly, both of these Rolex Daytona watches are in gold, with the reference 116519LN being in 18k white gold (on a black Rolex Oysterflex strap and matching 18k white gold bracelet), and the reference 116508 is in 18k yellow gold. While not pictured in this article, for 2021, Rolex also offers this “meteorite & black” dial on the reference 116505 in 18k Everose gold.
The sportiest and most casual of these new gold and meteorite Daytona watches is the reference 116519LN, which is probably the most flirtatious of these watches for timepiece collectors. The yellow or rose (Everose) gold models on the matching gold bracelets are more conspicuously luxurious and certainly the showier of choices. In 18k white gold on the more humble-looking black Oysterflex strap, the white gold meteorite Daytona looks the most like a casual everyday timepiece. Then again, it isn’t. Forget the $30,000 plus price point for a moment. What I’m talking about is the heft of a white gold case and the beauty of the meteorite dial. The 116519LN also has a black ceramic bezel, which is going to wear better than a softer gold bezel. So for those who want a meteorite Daytona watch for regular wear, and don’t mind a bit of stealth wealth, then the 116519LN version could be right for you.
Rolex continues to produce the Daytona in a 40mm-wide case that is water-resistant to 100 meters and uses classic-style screw-down chronograph pushers along with the crown. The irony is that outside of modern materials and popularity, the Daytona is very much a retro-style chronograph watch in many ways. That said, some of its quirkier retro elements (such the pushers) are a core part of the design DNA so many consumers associate with the Daytona watch family. In that sense, Rolex might very much want to update the Daytona in a variety of ways, but good business sense seems to maintain that Rolex should not mess too much with a winning formula.
Inside the Rolex Daytona is the well-aging in-house made Rolex caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement. It operates at 4Hz with about three days of power reserve and features just the time and 12-hour chronograph. Like all other Rolex movements the mechanism is a “SUPERLATIVE Chronometer,” meaning it is COSC Chronometer-certified and put through additional accuracy and performance testing at Rolex.
If you really want to be a “baller,” then the yellow or Everose gold meteorite Daytona is the watch for you. On the matching, tapering Oyster bracelet the Daytona has a very regal elegance to it which is further manifested by the black subdial and silver meteorite dial. Rolex knows that some people prefer rose gold and others prefer yellow gold – which is why the brand often offers similar products in both metal choices. Personally, I’m a yellow gold person, and the 116508 suits me rather well.
Rolex prices its all-gold Daytona watches a bit more than even the Rolex Day-Date “President” watches – probably on account of the more complicated movement. Still, in the scheme of gold watches on bracelets, the Daytona is still a “decent value” when compared to much else available in the luxury watch marketplace. Steel Daytona watches might be the hippest around, but for the experience Rolex seems to want for many of its clients, gold is the way to enjoy this popular timepiece classic. Price for the Rolex Daytona 119516LN in 18k white gold on the strap is $32,400 USD. The meteorite Daytona reference 116508 in 18k yellow gold on the bracelet is $39,000 USD, and the Rolex Daytona reference 116505 in 18k Everose gold has a retail price of $41,600 USD. Learn more at the Rolex website here.