Inspired by a passion for speed and racing, Rolex introduced the Cosmograph Daytona – better known as the Daytona – with the needs of professional racecar drivers in mind. Since its creation in 1963, the Daytona watch has remained iconic in the world of motorsport. Certain unique performance features of the Daytona make it particularly precise and mechanically reliable, especially when traveling at high speeds. For instance, its design and architecture integrate less components, improving the accuracy of its movement while also saving significant space in comparison to other standard chronographs.
Other design and utility features of the Rolex Daytona like its extra-large bezel containing an easy-to-read tachymeter scale, extremely precise start and stop functions, a smooth-running seconds hand, a power reserve of 72 hours, and the capacity to function for long periods without negatively affecting the watch’s precision. This allows for meticulous time recording and speed calculation. All these features collectively make the Daytona the optimal watch for speed enthusiasts, serving as a benchmark for those impassioned by motorsport racing. To this day, the Daytona remains a popular and highly coveted timepiece within a class of its own among both sport watches and tool watches from Rolex.
The Ultimate Racing Tool
As one of Rolex’s more complicated watches, there are several functional uses for the Cosmograph Daytona. Its signature look is its distinct dial with three smaller sub dials. Together, these three sub dials make up the watch’s Cosmograph – which is a shorter and simpler way of saying its certified self-winding chronograph or chronometer.
With its three sub dials and its two pushers, the Daytona was designed to be the ultimate chronograph for racecar drivers. It allows drivers to measure elapsed time displayed in hours, minutes and seconds on the dial. Its chronograph complication is activated by pushers that screw up for usage and screw back down into the case when not in use. The elapsed time on the chronograph displays the minutes on the 3 o’clock counter, the hours on the 9 o’clock counter, and the seconds using the 60-second scale around the dial – indicated by the long arrow-shaped seconds hand. The sub dial at 6 o’clock will mark the seconds for the time only, not for the chronograph. This mechanism was designed and perfected by Rolex to provide both ease and accuracy when keeping and measuring time during racing.
The bezel on the Daytona features a tachymetric scale, which displays the average time over a given distance based on the elapsed time. This scale can measure speeds up to 400 units per hour – in either miles or kilometers – further solidifying the Daytona as the ideal tool for measuring both time and speed.
Setting the Time on a Daytona
Let’s start with the basics – how to set the Daytona. First thing to know is the different positions of the crown and which function each position is for.
- Position 0: When the crown is completely screwed down against the case, as well as the pushers on both sides of the crown
- Position 1: When the crown is unscrewed and able to be wound manually by turning the winding crown clockwise. If turning the watch for the first time, or if the watch has stopped and needs to be reset, a minimum of 25 turns is needed for partial winding
- Position 2: When the crown is not only unscrewed, but also pulled out from the case to the first notch position. When the crown is in this position, it can be wound in either direction to set the correct time
How to use the Rolex Daytona
One of the Daytona’s most prominent functions is to keep and measure elapsed time, an essential utility for motor racing. The following steps break down how to measure elapsed time using a Rolex Daytona:
- Unscrew the pushers (on both sides of the crown) by turning in the counterclockwise direction
- Make sure the chronograph seconds hand is stopped. If it isn’t already stopped, you can press the upper pusher (above the crown, at 2 o’clock) to stop it manually.
- To reset the chronograph seconds hand and the counters to zero, press the lower pusher (below the crown, at 4 o’clock)
- Pressing the upper pusher will both start the timing function and stop it when done timing
- To read the elapsed time:
- Look at the center chronograph sub dial for a precise reading of the elapsed time in seconds
- Look at the counter/sub dial at 3 o’clock for a precise reading of the elapsed time in minutes
- Look at the counter/sub dial at 9 o’clock for a precise reading of the elapsed time in hours
- To screw the pushers back down, turn them in the clockwise direction until they are securely positioned back in the case
One thing to note is that you should NEVER press the reset pusher (bottom pusher) while the chronograph is running. Some people believe that doing so may potentially damage the internal movement of the watch. We can’t confirm whether or not if this is a true statement however, it is something to keep in the back of your head while using a tool such as the Daytona.
Measuring Average Speed Per Hour
The Daytona can also be used to calculate average speed per hour over a given distance. The following steps detail how to utilize this function on a Daytona watch:
- Unscrew the pushers by turning them in the counterclockwise direction. Make sure they are completely unscrewed
- Make sure that the chronograph seconds hand is stopped. If need be, manually stop it by pressing the upper pusher above the crown at 2 o’clock
- To reset the chronograph seconds hand and the counters to zero, press the lower pusher below the crown at 4 o’clock
- Press the upper pusher to start timing at the starting point of the desired distance to be covered
- Once the desired distance has been covered, press the same upper pusher to stop timing
- Looking at the chronograph seconds hand, you can read the average speed per hour on the graduated bezel – read in the chosen unit of distance per hour – either in miles or kilometers
- Once finished using this feature, screw the pushers back into place by turning them in the clockwise direction