Who Wears Steel Rolex Daytona?

The stainless steel Rolex Daytona is the hottest ticket among chronograph watches. With its ruggedly handsome looks, incredibly reliable reading and comfortable hold on the wrist, the Daytona is easily one of the most coveted watches in the world – and this is exponentially true for the stainless steel models.

The modern iteration of the steel Daytona has gone through four separate generations, defined mostly by their individual calibers and one with its modern bezel. Here’s a rundown of each model, as seen on the wrists of the famous.

 

Zenith Daytona

 

Rolex Daytona Zenith 16520

The steel Rolex Daytona as we know it today traces its beginnings to the ref 16520 released in 1988. It introduced all the characteristics that we see in today’s models – particularly the 40mm case, arrowhead markers and the contrasting subdial tracks.

All these changes put the Daytona up to a modern standard, but the most groundbreaking addition was its movement – the first automatic caliber used for the Daytona, the 4030. It was based on the El Primero Caliber 400 made by Zenith, earning this reference the moniker ‘Zenith Daytona’.

 

Zenith Daytona

 

The quickest way to spot a Zenith Daytona is by looking at the subdials – the rings are black on the white dial version, and off-white on the black dial version. Legendary actor and racer Paul Newman famously wore a Zenith Daytona as an alternative to his “exotic” dial Daytonas.

 


 

Daytona Patrizzi Dial

 

Rolex Daytona “Patrizzi Dial” 16520

The ref 16520 ran for 12 years and had different iterations within that period. Of particular interest to collectors is the “Patrizzi” dial, whose counters have turned brown.

As is standard practice at Rolex, smaller elements are tweaked slightly throughout production. Black ref 16520’s made between 1994 and 1995 used an organic varnish called Zappon, as a layer of protection for the dial’s face. Cracks on the varnish caused the dial to oxidize, thus giving these models a brown hue. This development means no two dials are alike, making it even more attractive to collectors.

 

Daytona Patrizzi Dial

 

“Patrizzi” dials got their name from Osvaldo Patrizzi, the founder of premiere auction house Antiquorum, who first noticed the unique phenomenon. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann wears his Patrizzi Daytona in the boardroom and on the racetrack.

 


 

Daytona 116520

 

Rolex Daytona 116520

For much of the Daytona’s history, it ran on modified third party movements, but that all changed with the ref 116520, introduced in 2000. Although it was not aesthetically different from the previous generation of stainless steel Daytonas, it presented a major step forward with the first in-house movement created for the collection, the Caliber 4130.

This improved the overall reliability of the movement and increased its power reserve to 72 hours. NFL star Russell Wilson and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley wear this version of the steel Daytona.

 


 

Daytona Ceramic White

 

Rolex Daytona Ceramic 116500 White

Rolex introduced their patented ceramic bezel, the Cerachrom, to the Daytona collection in 2013. First used on the platinum and Everose versions of the Daytona, the Cerachrom bezel finally made its appearance on the steel Daytona in 2016, much to the delight of Rolex fans.

The 2016 Ceramic Daytona is very much the same watch as the previous generation, though in addition to the black Cerachrom bezel, the white dial version features black rings instead of silver.

 

Daytona Ceramic White

 

The result is a handsome design that brings back the familiar look of vintage Rolex Daytonas, albeit with a sleek, scratch- and fade-proof bezel. Rolex ambassador Roger Federer, John Mayer, Jay-Z, and Dave Navarro were some of the first to sport this highly coveted timepiece.

 


 

Daytona Ceramic Black

 

Rolex Daytona Ceramic 116500 Black

Did we mention that it also comes in a black dial? The black-on-black treatment of the bezel and dial serves as the perfect canvas for the silver subdial rings and luminous markers. It still runs on the Caliber 4130, with a superb accuracy of +2 / -2 seconds per day. David Beckham and Dave Chappelle wear this version of the ceramic steel Daytona.

 

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