ROLEX Daytona Gold and Ceramic with Oysterflex bracelet
Our in-depth review of the ROLEX Daytona Gold and Ceramic reference 116518LN, 116519LN e 116515LN
Although the last years were, in ROLEX language, pretty much focused on the arrival of the new Rolex Sea-Dweller 126600, the new Rolex Yacht-Master 40mm 116621 Two Tone Everose Steel Chocolate Dial, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona Steel and Cerachrom and, this year, the Rolex Deepsea 126660 and, above all, the Rolex GMT Master II “Pepsi” 126710 BLRO, it should be highlighted too that it was also the year that brought us three new gold Rolex Daytona watches. The Formula 1 official sponsoring brand has been keeping up over the years with the continuous development of the new Daytona range that began with the 2013 platinum version and paved the way for the Cerachrom ceramic bezel, passing through the two steel references that replaced the historic references, all the way up to the three gold versions with a panda dial launched this year.
The history of the steel versions (the so-called 116500LN references) is quite recent and still worthy of note; since their launch at Baselworld 2016, they have turned into an incredible object of desire and their original 11,550€ retail price, given the low availability of these timepieces compared to the market demand, has turned into a real selling price, on the parallel market, that is currently at least 7,000€ higher.
Would you go for a modern Daytona in Steel or one in Gold (both with Cerachrom)?
We are talking about a market price that is closing up with that of the references listed in this article; reference 116518LN, reference 116519LN and reference 116515LN. ROLEX, to make some order among the so many references that are part of the Daytona family, already launched the new gold Rolex Daytona chronograph watches a few years ago; they were all named after reference 116515LN and they came both with Arabic numerals or applied baton-style indices, and they all featured an exclusive Everose gold case (ROLEX’s very own alloy).
The real difference on the latest versions, within this very same reference, lies in the presence of the panda dial, which has then been extended and replicated in white gold and yellow gold; two versions that were still missing and that now close the Daytona’s circle as we historically know it (that is to say the Daytona watches of the 62XX series).
Who is the quintessential Daytona's fan?
From my point of view, whoever wears a Rolex Daytona is a different customer than those who choose a classic Oyster Perpetual time-only watch, a Rolex Sky-Dweller 2017 Steel and Gold or a Rolex Datejust 41 126333 Oystersteel and Yellow Gold for example although there are still many people, who own an endless array of models made by this brand and that equally distribute their passion among different models (Rolex Cellini included). Among those owners I get to exchange my point of view with, there are many, who consider a Rolex Daytona 2017 as an alternative choice to a Submariner or to a GMT Master II.
The debut from few years ago of the Cerachrom bezel and of the versions made of precious metals re-positioned this collection upwards (in my opinion, the steel chrono somehow overlapped in the past with the diver’s watches), but, at the same time, ROLEX never changed the general proportions of its collection (as it did instead, on different occasions, with its sports timepieces like the Yacht-Master II). The collection still preserves its classic size (40mm) and its balanced mixture of corners, curves and the general layout of the different elements (like, for instance, the sub-dials and no date at all) that make this timepiece extraordinarily well-proportioned.
The idea of adopting the panda dial and baton-style indices only has turned the three new ROLEX Daytona into the best-balanced finest versions of the gold collection (in my opinion, the first 116515LN reference with its chocolate dial and its Arabic numbers was a little bit too “strong” for a ROLEX).
The modern Rolex Daytona
However, it is well-known that, in the last two years, ROLEX has reviewed both the proportions and details of its collections and the new Rolex Daytona watches follow the same policy that was introduced with the Datejust 41; the search for perfect proportions and a refined elegance achieved through smoothing out any style excess. As stated before, the new 116515LN reference features an Everose case as do the models of this reference-collection, the other two new Rolex Daytona 2017 are made of white gold and yellow gold, respectively. The pink dial is replaced by steel and champagne in the other two versions, coupled with the three black registers and the red-coloured “Daytona” writing.
Reference 116519LN can be defined as "interesting" and I will explain this term better at the end of this article, reference 116518LN, on the other hand, is the one I am less thrilled about. The yellow gold Rolex Daytona luxury watches don’t suit my taste and I think they don’t suit the taste of many Italian fans either. To complete the three versions, there is neither an Oyster bracelet with three gold mesh nor a standard rubber strap, but rather the Oysterflex; ROLEX’s own version of a rubber strap made up of an elastomer with a blade inside it to create a strap with a strong enough frame that won’t make it lose its shape or look with the passing of time; one of the goals of the brand from Geneva. This is not a revolutionary idea as this strap was already present on the Rolex Yachtmaster 40 (reference 116655) that debuted two years ago.
The touch and feel provided by the Cerachrom bezel insert coupled with Rolex's gold alloys
One of the secrets of the ROLEX Daytona Gold and Ceramic lies in its Cerachrom bezel that strongly contributes to the personality of the modern Rolex Daytona watches. Not only is its finish quite exceptional, but its truncated and conic design makes the readability of the tachometric scale the easiest and most intuitive one you could ever find on a sports chronograph. Moreover, it also gives visual amplitude to a case that is only 40mm large, but that actually looks bigger than that (diameter-wise rather than thickness-wise, since wearability is quite important for the manufacturer from Geneva).
We have already written extensively about the 4130 caliber that equips the Rolex Daytona, but, in my opinion, it is worth pointing out that ROLEX constantly adds in new refinements (part of a continuous improvement process within the life cycle of the product) to an in-house designed and built calibre that already boasts proven reliability and prolonged longevity qualities. The timing precision forms part of these improvements and the adoption of an internal certification programme (that has been in place for the last few years already) that has overcome the obsolete COSC standard, is an undeniable plus side. I still believe that the manufacture that launched so many innovations in the history of watch-making will soon come up with an in-house idea to counteract the Metas certification, despite the fact that the prestige and success of its products do not require it (commercially speaking).
Pricing and personal thoughts
The three new ROLEX Daytona Gold and Ceramic 116518LN, 116519LN and 116515LN retail at prices ranging from 26,650€ (for the first version) to 26,750€ (for the other two versions). Personally, I would not go for the yellow version (as I already explained before), but I would rather evaluate reference 116519LN and reference 116515LN using different parameters instead. The ROLEX Daytona Gold and Ceramic 116519LN is a great alternative to the steel version that, with its retail price of around 17,000€, is dangerously approaching the white gold version.
It's well known to everyone, however, that buying a Rolex Daytona is an investment that will last with the passing of time. Price-wise, I would choose the white gold version (reference 116519LN has a current market price that is lower than the recommended retail price) and give up a white gold replacement bracelet (considering how the Oysterflex was crafted, I believe there is no replacement bracelet available anyway). If I were to directly choose between the last two versions, I would definitely opt for reference 116515LN because I believe that no new generation gold Rolex Daytona could ever match such flavour, such flair and such a perfect coupling of Everose, panda dial and Oysterflex.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®