Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN

To some collectors, a stainless steel Daytona is a pinnacle moment.  The call from ADs for this statement piece can take years in the making, if you are lucky.  This particular SWAG member did not just get a call for a Daytona.  He got the calls for both stainless steel versions.  Suffice to say, TBC gave the owner a fair bit of (very gentle, we promise) ribbing during the photoshoot.

Photography by Ronald Chew

by The Balance Coq

  • March 21, 2024
photo 2024 02 26 10 10 26

Did you hear the joke about the Rolex Daytona? Nah, you probably won’t get it.

It is perhaps best to start off this piece by stating that the Daytonas you see here are the Reference 116500LN twins, not the newly launched 2023 Reference 126500LN.  Although I’m sure we will be seeing that set of twins soon too, from the owner.  The owner revealed to us that he has had to build a very impressive purchase history with his AD to get access to these two pieces.  Keen on the new set of twins, he is not expecting the requirements for them to be any less impressive.

The secondary-market darlings 116500LN have been with us since 2016.  During its 7-year reign, it has accomplished many impressive feats – ignited online flame wars, broken the resolve of many collectors, and inspired others to (try to) buy their way into the good graces of authorised dealers.  The same dealers that have been eager to tell the market that the supply of the Daytona is far outstripped by demand.  And collectors are not the only ones buying into this narrative.  Competition has been keen to fill this (largely imaginary?) gap.

Oscar Wilde’s oft-quoted remark about how “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” has always been misrepresented, because the quote in its entirety ends ominously, forewarning “that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”  A fair few brands have come up with their own take on a ceramic bezeled chronograph to address this perceived supply-demand gap.  I think it’s safe to say Wilde is wrong in the case of the Rolex Daytona.  From what we have seen – skipping the marketing hype – every imitator has been met with emotions ranging from derision to disbelief from buyers; generally, the closer the resemblance, the stronger the negative sentiment.  The king clearly has its fans.

The Case

The Daytona comes in at a very standard-for-Rolex 40mm, but the Daytona 40mm looks smaller than, say, the Rolex GMT2 40mm.  On the wrist, that observation remains true.  It certainly wears smaller than its stablemates.  But is the chronograph too small?  Nonsense.  Also, this is the last of the asymmetric stainless steel Daytonas.  What we mean by this is, pushers aside, the two halves of the 116500LNs do not match.  The new reference Daytonas fixed this peculiarity, bringing symmetry back into the entire range of Daytonas.

The Dial and Bezel

The layout of the trio of registers on the 116500LNs should be familiar to anyone with a faint interest at all in watches. As is the case with all Rolex Daytona watches that are powered by the brand’s in-house Cal. 4130 movement, the 116500LNs features a 30-minute register at 3 o’clock, a running seconds indicator at 6 o’clock, and a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock. The difference between the black and white dials isn’t simply down to the inversion of colours.  The white dial is more legible at a glance, while the black dial offers the safety of middle-of-the-road convention.  The white dial features black outlined registers and is particularly reminiscent of some vintage Daytona models, while the black variant is about as classic and traditional as you will get, and features silver contrasting rings on its trio of chronograph registers.

The black ceramic bezel on the twins is a partial recall to the black acrylic bezels fitted to Reference 6241 and certainly the Reference 6263.  It is a delicate case of “a bit of the old, and a bit of the new”, if you like.

The Bracelet

The 116500LNs are mounted on Oyster bracelets as standard.  And these bracelets are what anyone would come to expect from Rolex’s modern-day stainless steel bracelets – vault-like quality.  The Daytona Oyster bracelet features two outer brushed links with a center polished link. This adds some nice contrast and adds some luxury to a sports watch. Oyster bracelets are some of the most comfortable in the industry.

The Movement

Powering both the 116500LNs is the brand’s in-house Caliber 4130 self-winding mechanical chronograph movement. It seems odd when you realise Rolex only introduced its very own, in-house chronograph movement in 2000.  The current-model Daytonas are powered by the new Calibre 4131. The Cal. 4131 is does what it does with less components than the Cal. 4130 we are looking at here, and adds great decoration, performance, and reliability. We will take a deeper dive into the newer clutch of Daytonas powered by the new movement when we can get our greasy hands on a specimen!

The Cal. 4130 offers users a power reserve of 72 hours and is chronometer-certified, promising timekeeping accuracy within +2/-2 seconds per day. The oscillator is furnished with Rolex’s blue Parachrom hairspring, which is highly resistant to magnetic fields, temperature fluctuations, and shocks.  In the time it was in our possession, the twins kept time accurately and the chronograph functions were smooth.

photo 2024 02 26 10 10 44
photo 2024 02 26 10 10 41

Just One Last Thing…

It should come as no surprise that both the black and white dials versions have their respective loyal fan bases and frankly, both are absolutely glorious. However, if you were somehow in the enviable position to choose between the stainless steel black- or white-dial Daytonas, always bet on white.  At least with this reference, and the new 126500LN Daytonas.  The pre-ceramic Daytonas are not so clear cut on which of the dials look better.

Specifications

BrandRolex
ModelDaytona
Reference116500LN-0001 (white dial)
116500LN-0002 (black dial)
Case Material904L stainless steel
Case Diameter40mm
Case Height12.5mm
Lug-to-Lug46.6mm
Water Resistance100m
MovementCaliber 4130 self-winding mechanical chronograph movement
ProductionDiscontinued
WearsSmaller than its 40mm suggests

Recent Posts