The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona is one of Rolex’s longest-running collections. Although every piece in this line retains a very classic design that watch enthusiasts love, the brand has continuously worked to improve the Cosmograph Daytona, adding the most modern, advanced technology to each new model. It is the result of the brand’s constant quest for innovation, and hence, every single element of the Cosmograph Daytona watch has a story to tell.
Because of the effort that goes into developing the Cosmograph Daytona, many people, be they watch fanatics or casual wearers, were extremely excited for the release of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN. Launched at Baselworld 2016, this new Cosmograph Daytona model did not disappoint. To this day, many folks continue to regard it as one of Rolex’s best offerings, setting a new industry standard for luxury sports watches. In this article, we will be taking an in-depth look at the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN, including its history, its outstanding features, and why it is so highly respected in the watch community.
History of Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Did you know that the first-ever Cosmograph Daytona, the Rolex Cosmograph Ref. 6234, was introduced in 1955? Launched more than 60 years ago, the Cosmograph Daytona is one of the brand’s most sought-after ranges today. However, you might be surprised to know that the Cosmograph Daytona was not all that well-received at first. Indeed, the release of the Rolex Cosmograph Ref. 6234 flew under the radar initially. It was only after its use at the 1959 Daytona International Speedway Race, in which Rolex was the official timekeeper, that the Rolex Cosmograph Ref. 6234 gained more recognition.
A few years later, Rolex launched the Cosmograph Ref. 6239, which was a sports watch inspired by the Daytona Speedway. The Cosmograph Ref. 6239 quickly gained popularity — thanks to Sir Malcolm Campbell, who was a prominent British race track driver and a known patron of Rolex. In virtually every race, Campbell could be seen with this Rolex timepiece on his wrist. However, at that time, the Cosmograph had not come to be known as the “Daytona” yet. It was only in 1964 that the watch officially gained the “Daytona” label, which was then engraved onto every ensuing Cosmograph Daytona piece.
The launch of the Cosmograph Ref. 6239 also significantly changed the image of the collection. In earlier days, the Cosmograph Daytona models were not very legible, as they had tiny numerals, uniform colors, and a tachymeter scale on the rim of the dial. With the Cosmograph Ref. 6239, Rolex made two significant changes: they adopted contrasting colors for the sub-dials and changed the location of the tachymeter scale so that these elements would be easier to read. In 1965, the brand introduced the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6240. This watch came with brand-new screw-down crowns and chronograph pushers, providing greater resistance against moisture.
In 1988, Rolex completely changed the movement used in the Cosmograph Daytona watches. Instead of the old manually wound calibers, the brand equipped the Cosmograph with the self-winding Rolex Caliber 4030, which was heavily inspired by Zenith’s El Primero movement. More recently, Rolex has introduced an in-house chronograph movement, the Caliber 4130, in Cosmograph Daytona watches. Both of these calibers made use of Rolex’s new Parachrom anti-magnetic balance spring, which adds to the durability of the watch.
In 2016, Rolex released the third-generation Cosmograph Daytona model, the Ref. 116500LN. It upholds Rolex’s tradition of innovation, making use of some of the most advanced technology available to Rolex today, while also maintaining the heritage of the Cosmograph Daytona models that came before it.
Everything You Need to Know About the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN
Case and Bracelet
The Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN features a case made primarily out of lustrous Oystersteel. With a standard 40mm case diameter, this watch can fit comfortably on wrists of all sizes. Its sleek case design has elements inspired by the predecessor Cosmograph Daytona models. This includes its lack of maxi lugs, which are instead replaced by three sealed zones and a Triplock screw-down crown.
The Ref. 116500LN’s screw-down crown is incredibly secure, and its Triplock system ensures that no external elements like dust or moisture will get into the watch. The top of the crown is engraved with Rolex’s iconic crown logo, enhancing this timepiece’s luxurious vibe. On the two sides of the crown, you can also find screw-down chronograph pushers that were also present on the second-generation Cosmograph Daytona.
In addition, the Ref. 116500LN has a three-link Oyster bracelet that is also made from Oystersteel. With its solid links and mixture of polished and brushed surfaces, this bracelet gives an impression of professionalism and class on your wrist. It is also equipped with Rolex’s proprietary Easylink extension system, which allows you to lengthen or shorten the bracelet by 5mm. It is quick and easy to use, so you can adjust the bracelet length without any tools at all, ensuring that it fits nicely and securely on your wrist.
One of the greatest features the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN comes with is its Cerachrom bezel. Cerachrom is an incredibly robust ceramic alloy developed and patented by Rolex and used by the brand in modern sports watches such as the Cosmograph Daytona. Its name is a blend of the words “ceramic” and “chrom”, which means color in Greek. Cerachrom is named as such because Rolex is able to manipulate the material to appear in an array of gleaming colors, be it black, red, blue, or even two-toned hues.
Aside from its glossy, lustrous look, Cerachrom also stands out for its top-notch durability. It is highly resistant to corrosion, scratches, chemicals, and can even withstand exposure to UV rays. This allows the Cerachrom material to maintain its color and quality for decades without wearing down or turning dull.
The Cerachrom bezel was first launched in 2005, on the 18K yellow gold Rolex Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II. It was next used in the 2011 Everose Cosmograph Daytona before Rolex finally utilized it again in the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN.
This time, the Ref. 116500LN’s Cerachrom bezel comes in sleek jet-black. It is also engraved with a highly legible tachymeter scale, which is yet another constant in the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, since its release in the 1960s. The graduations and markings of the scale are not just painted in but are also coated in a thin layer of platinum. This ensures that the markings on the Cerachrom bezel will not wear off over time the way normal paint would.
The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN is offered in two different dial colourways, black with white sub-dials (Ref. 116500LN Black), or white with black sub-dials (Ref. 116500LN White). The white dial has a more vintage look to it, with the black accents on its chronograph sub-counters matching the watch’s black bezel and unobtrusive minute track. On the other hand, the Ref. 116500LN with a black dial has a more sporty, casual look to it. It blends perfectly with the black Cerachrom bezel would make for an excellent everyday timekeeper.
As with all Rolex watches, the dial of the Ref. 116500LN also boasts a clean, well-designed layout that is very easy to read. It features raised hour indices in white gold, effortlessly enhancing the watch’s lavishness. These hour indices are coated with the brand’s Chromalight lume, as are the black inserts on the watch’s faceted hands. The use of Chromalight gives these elements a bright blue shine in the dark, improving the legibility of the watch face.
Rolex Calibre 4130 Movement
As previously mentioned, the modern Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN is powered by an in-house Caliber 4130. This is a COSC-certified movement with an impressive, tried-and-tested accuracy rating of +6/-4 per day. On top of its COSC certification, this movement is also recognized as a Superlative Chronometer, which is a further testament to its reliability and impressive performance.
Compared to older Rolex movements, the Caliber 4130 is an innovative caliber that uses fewer components to achieve more. In particular, it has a 72-hour power reserve, which is a huge step up from the Rolex Caliber 4030’s 54-hour power reserve. The Caliber 4130 also has just 12 different types of screws, as opposed to older Rolex movements that use 40 screws. In addition, the Caliber 4130 is equipped with the brand’s signature blue Parachrom balance spring, which significantly improves the watch’s resistance to magnetic fields, shocks, and extreme temperature changes.
The Caliber 4130 is notable for being the first-ever in-house chronograph movement developed by Rolex, and it was designed exclusively for the Cosmograph Daytona watches. It was made in response to the need for an engine that can work well in spite of all the bumps and vibrations sportsmen might encounter on the racetrack and in other sports facilities. The Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN’s use of this innovative movement is one of the main reasons for its success as a top-tier luxury sports watch.
When it was first released in 2016, the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN was sold at approximately $13,400 USD. However, as most of you probably know, Rolex watches are prized as excellent investments, in large part because they tend to increase in value over the years, sometimes exponentially. Considering how highly sought-after the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN is, it might be a challenge for you to find one today. However, if you do manage to get your hands on a pre-owned Daytona Ref. 116500LN, you could probably purchase it at around $40,000 USD or higher, depending on the seller and the condition the watch is in.
Best Alternatives to the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN
All things considered, it can be pretty tough for you to find a model of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN today. As such, if you would prefer to opt for other affordable luxury sports watches that can work as alternatives to the Ref. 116500LN, we have some great deals for you, too.
1. Omega Speedmaster Day-Date 322.214.171.124.06.001
First, we have one of the best-selling chronographs from Omega, the Omega Speedmaster Day-Date 3126.96.36.199.06.001. This Omega Speedmaster piece shares many visual similarities with the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN. For instance, this Omega watch also comes in a sleek, glossy 40mm silver case and bracelet. In addition, this watch also has a striking black bezel that is marked with a handy tachymeter scale. It also has similar luminous silver-tone indices and hands, along with three chronograph sub-dials placed in the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions, much like the sub-dials on the Daytona Ref. 116500LN.
However, the Omega Speedmaster Day-Date 3188.8.131.52.06.001 also differs quite a bit from the Daytona Ref. 116500LN. For instance, the case and bracelet of this watch are made of regular stainless steel. The dial also has a different finish, with the dial of this Speedmaster piece boasting an exquisite sunray black face that shimmers under the light instead. Furthermore, this watch is powered by Omega’s mechanical in-house Caliber 3304. This movement powers a date display, located between the 4 and 5 o’clock markers of the watch, which the Daytona Ref. 116500LN lacks.
You can purchase this timepiece for around $5,319 USD.
2. Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79360N-0002
The next alternative to the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN that we recommend is the Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79360N-000. This is yet another modern chronograph tool, although this watch comes with only two sub-dials instead.
Like the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN, this Tudor watch has an attractive panda dial layout, featuring black sub-dials against a snow-white backdrop. Its dial is adorned with hour markers in the form of circular luminous indices as well as the signature Black Bay “snowflake” handset, which is designed to provide better legibility with its size. It also has a black bezel with a tachymeter scale on it, although the bezel of the Black Bay 79360N-000 is not quite as lustrous as Rolex’s Cerachrom bezel.
This watch comes in a 41mm stainless steel case paired with a matching three-link bracelet of the same material. Under its watch face, you can find a COSC-certified Caliber MT5813, with a power reserve of 70 hours. This movement features a column-wheel and vertical clutch, as well as an anti-magnetic silicon balance spring.
The Tudor Heritage Black Bay 79360N-000 has a retail price of around $7,459 USD.
3. TAG Heuer Formula 1 CAZ1011.BA0842
Another popular alternative to the Daytona Ref. 116500LN is the TAG Heuer Formula 1 CAZ1011.BA0842. This luxury sports watch comes in a slightly larger 43mm stainless steel case, paired with a sturdy three-link stainless steel bracelet. Fitted on top of the case is a bezel with a tachymeter scale in grey, with big bold indicators that are highly legible.
As with the Daytona Ref. 116500LN, this TAG Heuer watch is a chronograph model. It has a gorgeous sunburst grey dial that is furnished with three black sub-dials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, silver-tone hands and hour indices, and a large Arabic numeral at the 12 o’clock position. Its indices and hour markers are all generously coated with Super-LumiNova, giving the watch face a vibrant green glow when in poor lighting conditions. Unlike the aforementioned watches, this TAG Heuer Formula 1 timepiece is powered by a precise quartz movement.
You can purchase the TAG Heuer Formula 1 CAZ1011.BA0842 for just $1,569 USD.
Now that we have gone through an in-depth review of the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN, it should be clear why this is such a highly-recognized timepiece in the industry. As a product of Rolex’s masterful craftsmanship and constant, high-tech innovation, this timepiece will never fail to satisfy your needs, whether you are a newbie or an experienced watch connoisseur. With its premium materials, luxurious look, and advanced features, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 116500LN is worth every dollar you spend on it.
Photo credits: All photos are from the brand’s official website unless otherwise stated.
Do you want to see more Rolex watches? Check out our review of the modern Rolex Submariner Bluesy.