One of the often heard gripes about Rolex, is that they are conservative. Boring. Pedestrian. The choice for collectors who are afraid to stand out.
Its absolute nonsense.
Yes, they produce classic watches, but the candy hues of the Oyster Perpetual range are by no means The Crowns first foray into attention grabbing dials. In fact, they were at it 50 years ago.
In the 60s Rolex were fitting hard stone dials to Day-Dates such as Lapis, Jasper, coral, ammonite and even fossil dials (nicknamed “Jurassic”) These dials were often found on watches made for Middle Eastern markets.
In the 70s and 80s, the “Stella” lacquered dials came on to the scene and took things to a newer, even brighter level.
These dials were designed to go with the bellbottoms and kipper ties of the dapper man about town. They were an absolute riot of high gloss colour but the world wasn’t ready for Rolex to turn up the disco, so they were poor sellers and Rolex ended up destroying batches of Stella dials as they couldn’t sell the watches - the market wanted Conservative.
Funny how times change, but nonetheless this makes an OG Stella dial a rare find indeed.
In the early 2000’s, colour made a comeback, albeit in a far more limited form.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona “Beach” limited edition set.
This is probably the wildest foursome I’ve ever seen!
All white gold reference 116519 featuring vibrant turquoise, green Chrysoprase (stone), pink mother of pearl and yellow mother of pearl dials.
They all have lizard skin straps to match the dials and in an absolute icing on the cake twist, all have strap matched boxes and certificate wallets.
As you know, green Rolex boxes and document wallets are the standard, so any departure from this, particularly in pink, turquoise and yellow is super rare and exclusive to these editions.
The Daytona Beaches were only EVER made with P, K, or Y serials, so if you’re looking at one outside that serial range, you’re not looking at a Beach.
Having all four together makes an absolutely killer collectors set, so before we start making box paper and watch patterns like crazy paving, lets take a look at each dial individually.
First up, the chrysoprase dial which is a higher value green variant of chalcedony (quartz) which is occasionally mistaken for imperial jade. The stone is said to bring good fortune and prosperity, something that you’re probably going to need if you’re a dedicated Rolex collector these days!
The dial on this particular Beach Daytona is a gorgeous and very distinctive fresh apple green colour which brings a sense of springtime, its a real mood lifter.
The Kallait (more commonly known as Turquoise) Beach is the most flamboyant of the bunch with a “wet look” turquoise dial that makes other similarly hues look positively restrained in comparison. Its a wickedly bright and reflective blue that rather than appearing ostentatious just looks like great fun. The red Daytona text above the lower sub dial sets it off a treat.
Tiffany schmiffany. Beach turquoise is the head turner.
Shifting more towards the pastel palette we have the pink and yellow mother of pearl dial Beaches.
Mother of pearl is the iridescent lining of a mollusk shell. Its found inside oysters and abalone and has been used to make jewellery as far back as ancient Egypt and the Ming dynasty. It is a hugely popular material because of the way that it shifts and shimmers in changing light to reveal different tones and colours.
MOP is made from a substance called “nacre” which is the same material as an actual pearl, but rather than being an individual ball, the nacre used to make mother of pearl is found lining the shell.
It is named Mother Of Pearl as the popular belief is that the nacre lined shells form the “belly” from which pearls are produced.
The pink MOP of the Daytona is a soft, almost rose petal colour which changes between silvery and pink as the light moves, it really is something special and has a warm dusky almost sunset vibe to it.
By comparison the yellow MOP dial is reminiscent of hazy sunshine as it moves through a some golden tones before returning to an almost lemony colour when looking at it face on.
Each dial uses oversized Roman numerals and rather than lume, the centre of the hour and minute hands are finished in black enamel which gives a bit of additional readability, certainly against the paler MOP dials.
There is another interesting feature hidden in plain sight here as well.
Each dial uses what’s known as the “Watchmakers Four”.
This is where the IV (the Roman Numeral for 4) is replaced with four i’s to provide visual symmetry to the dial with the IIII mirroring the VIII at 8pm as closely as possible.
This is absolutely a design choice as using the correct numeral would lead to a lack of balance which could be one of those “cannot unsee” irritations, and nobody likes those.
I think Rolex have really nailed the dials here. The hard stones offer bright and cheerful infinitely more “in your face” colours while the pastels are far more restrained.
Restrained, however, does not appear in any description of the gloriously bonkers lizard straps which really pack a punch.
You’ve got hot pink, sunshine yellow, apple green and turquoise lizard skin straps which make the watches go from mere “interesting dials” to all singing and dancing statement pieces.
Its an inspired combination and really shows what Rolex can do when they put their mind to colour.
The exclusivity and vibrancy is not the only aspect that makes these Daytona Beaches both significant and ultra collectible.
These watches were released with Rolexes Calibre 4130 which was their first new movement in fifty years and their first “in-house” chronograph movement, full stop.
Previously they had been using modified Zenith movements for the Daytona but with the new 4130 movement came better accuracy and efficiency which is always a bonus.
The 18ct white gold cases on all four pieces are identical and follow the classic lines and proportions the Daytona with end link fixings for the straps meaning both the removal of “Strap Gap” but also a lack of bracelet compatibility, but lets face it, the Beaches were made to sit on their lizard straps and that’s where they really shine.
Those who have hunted the Daytona beach sets state that they have found no evidence in sales records of anyone purchasing a complete set of four all at once from an authorised dealer, so it seems that these pieces were sold individually with people collecting them all like Pokemon, so its not unusual to see the full four together featuring different sellers on the paperwork or indeed different lettered serials.
Nonetheless the fab four all grouped together really is a visual treat, and given that we like a little treat here at Official, this collection of Daytona Beaches is in store and available now.
Let us know what you think of them in the comments, and we’ll have a little less “Rolex is too conservative” from now on ;-)