The Daytona has consistently been one of Rolex’s most successful watches since it first launched in 1963. Over the years, certain variations of the model have garnered special attention and become highly coveted. There are the Paul Newman Daytonas of the 1960s and 70s, made popular by the legendary actor and racer himself. To this day, these models continue to command attention in the preowned market. For instance, in 2017, one went up for auction and became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold at $17.8 million.
Then, there are the El Primero Daytonas of the 1980s. These were the first models in the collection to feature an automatic chronograph movement, none other than Zenith’s iconic El Primero to be exact. Eventually, Rolex developed their own in-house automatic chronograph movement, the Caliber 4130. However, the El Primero variations continue to have a cult following. It was only a matter of time before the next hit iteration of the Daytona emerged.
Debut of the Reference 116508
In 2016, Rolex unveiled the Daytona Reference 116508 at Baselworld. The model boasts an entirely yellow gold construction. This includes the 40mm Oyster case, tachymeter bezel, and tapered three-link bracelet. Most notably, the Ref. 116508 features a striking metallic green dial. The color celebrates the debut of Rolex’s “green seal” Superlative Chronometer certification. In contrast to the emerald hue, each of the three registers gets a complimentary red accent on the inner ring. Rolex also spells out the Daytona name in red above the subdial at the six-o’clock position. Inside, you’ll find the brand’s Caliber 4130 self-winding mechanical movement.
Calm before the Storm
When the model first launched, it didn’t cause much of a stir. The same year, Rolex also introduced a somewhat similar colorway of their Day-Date President. It showcased a green dial paired with Everose gold. Like every potent version of the Daytona, it would take time before the Ref. 116508 became a sensation. Just three years after its launch, it happened, all thanks to one man: John Mayer. In recent years, Mayer has become almost as famous for his watch knowledge as his musical prowess. Still, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the impact of his appearance with the Ref. 116508 in a particular Hodinkee video.
Mayer Makes the Model a Legend
Hodinkee launched their Talking Watches video series back in 2013 with none other than Mayer himself. Since then, the episode has notched roughly two million views. So, it came as no surprise they’d invite him back for a part two. He made his second appearance in March 2019. Here, Mayer sat down with Hodinkee’s CEO Benjamin Clymer once again to, well, talk watches. They chatted about a number of models from Rolex as well as watches from Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. However, the primary focus of the episode was on variations of the Daytona, one of Mayer’s personal favorites. Of course, one of the models in discussion was the Ref. 116508, which Mayer casually called a “sleeper hit.” Soon, listeners took it as a sign to flock to their nearest authorized retailer in search of the model.
Within a month, the Ref. 116508 was sold out and waiting lists became so long, dealers stopped taking names. It wasn’t just the traditional market that took the hit. Prices in the secondary market soared to more than $15,000 over the list price. Mayer had made the model a legend, but we still haven’t gotten to the best part yet. For you, the wait is over. We’re thrilled to have one of the iconic and impossible-to-procure Ref. 116508 models in our inventory. Run, don’t walk to buy this model before it sells out.