2016 was a big year for fans of the Rolex Daytona because the company finally released a Daytona with a ceramic bezel in steel. For 2017, Rolex is updating its Daytona line, this time with its gold models. This year, the yellow and white gold Daytona watches will all be getting Cerachrom (Rolex-speak for ceramic) bezels. But, perhaps most surprising of all is that these watches will come not with a traditional Oyster bracelet. Instead, they will come with Rolex's relatively new Oysterflex strap with an Oysterlock safety clasp. Some love it, some hate it, but there's clearly a market out there for it.
For customers who never saw a compelling Rolex alternative to products offered from brands like Audemars Piguet and Hublot, there is this configuration of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. It's kind of hard to make a statement with a Rolex Daytona that isn't modified, and that's a testament to the longevity and desirability of the watch, but these Oysterflex models could present a viable option for these buyers. We first covered this release here, but now have hands-on pictures to give you a better feel for them in person and on the wrist.
I’ll talk about the Oysterflex strap later, but first, let’s go over the basics of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, which will be familiar for anyone who knows the Rolex Daytona. These new Daytona watches will come in a 40mm-wide case and will be offered in 18k white gold and 18k yellow gold, and they will now come with Cerachrom bezels. There’s also a third version in Everose. Technically, the Everose Rolex Cosmograph Daytona already had a Cerachrom bezel when it was launched, but it joins the other two here because it will now be offered with an Oysterflex strap.
The first watch to have the Oysterflex was the Everose Yacht-Master from 2015. The Oysterflex strap is quite special in that it is not just a rubber or elastomer strap. No, Rolex doesn’t do things the simple way. Instead, a super elastic blade is used and then molded over with elastomer. The aim was to create a strap with the reliability of a metal bracelet and the comfort of an elastomer strap. For the new Daytona watches here, they will also get an Oysterlock safety clasp with the Easylink mechanism that quickly increases the strap length by about 5mm - great for warm days when your wrists expand.
A lot of people make the "it's still rubber" argument, and that is true, of course. But there is an obvious appeal to a lot of other people for a rubber strap, especially how Rolex does this one, and don't mind spending $30,000 for that bit of fun. It could be comfort, sportier aesthetics, or just because they like that it stands out. You may not like it, but I think it's fair to say that these aren't just another rubber strap ("it's Rolex rubber!"). Rolex insists on calling it a bracelet, though, which is definitely a reach.
One thing to note about the implementation of the Oysterflex strap is that unlike the Yacht-Master, the Rolex Daytona watches will come with special end links so that there isn’t an unsightly gap between the strap and the case. In addition, whatever misgivings you might have about the strap will be easily forgotten once you put these watches on your wrist. Elastomer is really cool and comfortable on the skin, and Rolex makes it even better by having fins under the strap that create a cushion between the strap and your wrist. This allows for your wrist to expand and contract a bit without making the watch feel too loose or tight. Also, the fins help vent the inner part of the strap on hot days.
Introduced last year, in 2016, the Cerachrom bezel was significant because, as owners of Rolex Daytona watches with stainless steel bezels can attest, those bezels on older Daytona watches would often get pretty scratched up. The Cerachrom bezel, on the other hand, is ultra-hard and therefore super resistant to scratches. In addition, the engraved tachymeter scale is marked using a thin layer of gold or platinum, and Rolex says it will never fade. These two properties make the Cerachrom bezel very desirable to Rolex Daytona fans, especially those who wish for their watches to continue looking as pristine as they can. Furthermore, the Cerachrom bezels have a very glossy, almost liquid look to them that is very nice, especially under direct light.
The rest of the case is sublimely finished. The polishing is spotless, and the screwed-down pushers and the crown are all immaculately crafted and feel good to operate. The crown uses Rolex’s Triplock waterproof system. Water-resistance is rated at 100 meters, which really should be the bare minimum these days for any watch that calls itself a sports watch.
As for dials, the yellow gold model will come with a champagne dial, while the white gold model will come with what Rolex calls a “steel” dial, and finally, the Everose model has a very luscious pink dial. Each model will also have hands made out of the same gold material as their cases. All in all, very standard stuff for readers who are familiar with the Rolex Daytona. Personally, I like the dials of the white gold and Everose model best. The “steel” color, which is really more like a silvery-grey or slate, is very classy and harmonious to my eyes. As for the Everose model, the pink dial complements the Everose case so, so well.
Inside these new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches lies the legendary Calibre 4130, Rolex’s own in-house chronograph movement. It has everything you expect from a chronograph movement at this price point, including a column wheel with vertical clutch, and a lengthy power reserve of 72 hours. It also has a Parachrom hairspring, made out of a special blend of alloys that allows it to be less affected by shocks and magnetic fields. Further, it meets Rolex’s new Superlative Chronometer certification, which means it’ll run between -2/+2 seconds a day and will enjoy a warranty of 5-years.
So, yes, these new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona watches are a little unusual and unexpected, but they are still exceptionally nice watches. Regardless of some people's misgivings about the Oysterflex strap, I personally think they are actually attractive, unique, and sporty, and I can see them winning over watch lovers who could be considering a sporty chronograph from other high-end brands. The new Rolex Cosmograph Daytona in 18k yellow gold with Oysterflex strap is called the Ref. 116518LN and is priced at $27,500. The Rolex Daytona in 18k white gold with Oysterflex strap is called the Ref. 116519LN and this is priced at $28,800. Finally, the Rolex Daytona in 18k Everose gold with Oysterflex strap is the Ref. 116515LN and this is also priced at $28,800. rolex.com