March 16, 2016
by Bilal Khan
It’s about time the steel Rolex Daytona got an upgrade, as it’s been about sixteen years since we’ve seen it refreshed. The wait is over with the new-for-Baselworld-2016 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona reference 116500LN in 904L steel. It uses a new monobloc Cerachrom bezel in black ceramic with an updated tahcymeter design, shedding the older engraved metal bezel. It’s still got the calibre 4130 movement, but is now tested by Rolex to +2/-2 seconds per day accuracy, which is super impressive for a mass produced chronograph. That rating means that the new Rolex Daytona also sports the Rolex Superlative Chronometer Certification, of which you can read all about right here. A new aesthetic choice I love is the black snailed sub-dials on the white dial model, while the other available version in black dial has gray snailed sub-dials. Now, let’s get our hands on this new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona and see what it has to offer in person…
The aforementioned monobloc Cerachrom used in the bezel is a material developed by Rolex and is replacing the engraved metal bezel on the outgoing Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. It hearkens to the past with the 1965 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona that had a plexiglass black bezel, but it’s due time the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona joins its siblings like the Rolex Submariner and Rolex GMT-Master II in getting the ceramic bezel treatment. Cerachrom is incredibly scratch proof due to its hardness, and on top of this, it will keep the black bezel from fading due to the effects of UV rays.
Rolex has also made an effort to preserve the legibility on the bezel through a process they developed that involves moulding the graduations into the ceramic before it’s heated up to 1,500 degrees celsius. After this, it’s coated with a thin layer of platinum using a PVD process. What this process does is create a level of definition in tandem with the contrast of platinum and black ceramic.
Furthermore, the tachymeter scale has been updated so now it “follows” the rounded shape of the dial – the numerals were “horizontal” on the previous version. One final point about the bezel before moving on is that it’s one single piece holding the crystal in place on the middle case, which helps with waterproofing.
As previously mentioned, the automatic calibre 4130 is still the engine that drives the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. However, the movement which previously boasted being COSC Chronometer Certified is now also Rolex Superlative Chronometer Certified. For the record, Rolex is not at all planning on leaving COSC, as they want to keep it as an external, independent certification. Their in-house certification requires -2/+2 second accuracy rating though, which is being applied to all new Rolex watches.
Back to the calibre 4130, when Rolex designed it they they concentrated on reducing the number of components in the chronograph function, helping to increase reliability. The chronograph is activated and reset using the screw-down pushers, which will interact with the movement’s column wheel and vertical clutch mechanisms – contributing to a precise and immediate start. The chronograph is accurate to within 1/8th of a second, if you need that kind accuracy. Interestingly, between the seconds markers of the dial we still have 4 notches, so you can’t really read that 1/8th accuracy.
The calibre 4130’s oscillator has a Rolex patented blue Parachrom hairspring made in a proprietary alloy. The Parachrom hairspring is resistant to magnetic fields, allowing it to offer stability in situations that also include temperature variations as well as shocks, where it can remain up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring. The automatic movement operates at 28,800 vph (4Hz) and affords a power reserve of 72 hours, which we’d normally say is more than ample if you want to take it off for a weekend or even a long weekend… But, we don’t think you’ll be getting tired of a brand-new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona that soon.
Rolex puts great thought and care into how they update their models, which is precisely why if the previous Daytona were a child, it would be starting to apply to colleges, as it was released in 2000. I suppose much of the reason for that is that there’s really no good reason to change anything when it comes to something like the Oyster Case. Waterproof to 100 meters, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona’s middle case is made from a solid block of 904L steel. We still see the fluted, unadorned case back here, looking as staid and cool as ever. There’s something about a case back that’s not trying to impress you that makes you love and chase it even more…
What I, and many others, love about Rolex is just how well-made their bracelets are. The Ref. 78590 (for all you bracelet nerds out there) 904L steel three-piece solid linked Oyster bracelet looks and feels as good as ever on the wrist. The polished center links, satin-finished outer links with the polished edges are pretty close to perfection. Not to forget, the Oysterlock folding safety clasp and Easylink 5mm extension link are as functional as ever.
The familiar crown looks timeless, but also is fitted with the Triplock triple waterproofness system. It’ll screw down along with the chronograph pushers flanking it on either side of its crown guard.
While the Cerachrom bezel stole the show, the two dial options of the new 2016 Rolex Cosmograph Daytona make a huge impact on the overall looks. The white dial with its “almost-panda” aesthetics might seem to be the more obvious choice for many, but the black dial version turned out to be a real stunner in the metal.
The way the deep, glossy black dial works with the dark black ceramic bezel is something that has to be seen live to be fully appreciated it. With its silver sub-dial rings it beautifully complements the black and platinum bezel. On both dial versions you’ve got the 18ct white gold appliqués on the hour markers and hands. The spirit of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona goes unchanged, as it likely will remain for the foreseeable future.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona (Ref. 116500 LN) comes in either a white lacquer dial or black lacquer dial. As I mentioned earlier, the white dial comes with black snailed sub-dials, and the black has grey snailed sub-dials. Price for the new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is 11,800 CHF. rolex.com