In watch circles, the Rolex Daytona is legendary. Named after the famed Daytona 500 motor race held in Daytona, Florida, the chronograph has been a major pillar of Rolex’s lineup since 1963. Designed to assist professional racing drivers, it is a true tool watch. The Daytona has been a popular, sought-after timepiece for decades now. The watch made international headlines when Paul Newman’s Daytona sold for a record-breaking $17.8 million in 2017, further bolstering its notoriety. Publicity from the staggering price tag caused demand for Rolex Daytonas to spike in the ensuing years.
Paul Newman’s watch is one of dozens of iterations of the iconic timepiece. Dials, bracelets, and movements vary between models. Most connoisseurs and aficionados will point to the Rolex “Big Red” Daytona as a perennial favorite, which has DAYTONA spelled out in red block letters curving above the six o’clock subdial. This makes it fairly easy to spot a Big Red. But what about other, less common Daytonas?
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6265
The full name of the Rolex Daytona is the Cosmograph Daytona. Before the Daytona name universally appeared on all modern dials, watches with the same functions and dials were produced in limited numbers that were simply called the Cosmograph. Of course, the Cosmograph name is still on Daytona dials to this day. Although people might look at the Rolex Daytona 6265 and think it’s not a true Daytona, they’d be wrong. Minus the name on the dial, the 6265 is a Daytona through and through.
The ref. 6265 features the same manual-winding Valjoux caliber 727 found in all of its contemporaries. The watch’s subdials are in the same positions on the dial. The movement performance and accuracy as well as the engraved tachymeter on the bezel are all the same. It’s undoubtedly a cool watch.
The 6265 is stealthier than its Daytona cousins. It’s not nearly as common as them, and is a bit more understated. Estimates suggest that only 24,000 copies of this model were made in stainless steel, and another 2,000 made in 18-karat gold. The 6265 whispers, rather than shouts, “Daytona.” Those in the know about the 6265 and its contemporary, the 6263, will understand the importance of this timepiece, while a casual observer might not. It’s much easier to stay under the radar with the 6265.
1. The Sigma Dial
Perhaps even less well-known is this watch’s “sigma dial.” While there are various theories about the significance of the sigma, the consensus is that the symbol means that both the hands and hour indices are made of solid gold. A handful of Swiss watchmakers included the sigma symbol on their dials during the time that the 6265 featured this detail.
It’s hard to spot the lower-case sigma symbol (σ) at first glance. It flanks both sides of the T SWISS T on the minute track at the six o’clock position.
But, what makes this Rolex Daytona so special?
2. The 200-Unit Tachymeter Scale
The Rolex Daytona 6265’s bezel is distinctive as well. Modern Daytonas feature a 400 units per hour scale. The 6265’s, however, is a 200 units per hour scale.
3. The Reverse Panda
Much has been made about the mystique of the panda dial, which is a white dial with three black subdials. Paul Newman’s record-breaking watch also had a panda dial. The nickname comes from the fact that the layout and colors resemble the markings of a panda bear. The Rolex Daytona 6265 you can see in our photos can be described as a “reverse” panda, as it has white subdials on a black background.
4. A Watch to Treasure
On account of its intriguing features and relative rarity, the Rolex Daytona 6265 is a grail watch for many collectors. It is rugged yet subtle, elegant yet sporty. All in all, it’s a watch to treasure.