Since its introduction in 1963, the Daytona has been one of Rolex’s most successful watches. Certain variations of the model have garnered special attention and become highly coveted over the years. There are Paul Newman Daytonas from the 1960s and 1970s, which were popularised by the legendary actor and racer himself. These models continue to attract attention in the used market to this day. For example, in 2017, one was auctioned off and became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold, fetching $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.
The Stillness Before the Storm
When the model first debuted, it didn’t make much of an impression. Rolex released a somewhat similar colorway of their Day-Date President the same year. It had a green dial with Everose gold accents. It would take time for the Ref. 116508 to become a sensation, as it has with every powerful version of the Daytona. It happened only three years after its inception, thanks to one man: John Mayer. In recent years, Mayer has become almost as well-known for his watch knowledge as he has for his musical abilities. Still, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the impact of his appearance in a Hodinkee video with the Ref. 116508.
Mayer immortalises the model
Hodinkee debuted their Talking Watches video series with none other than Mayer himself in 2013. Since then, the episode has received approximately two million views. As a result, it was unsurprising that they would invite him back for a sequel. In March of this year, he made his second appearance. Mayer met with Hodinkee CEO Benjamin Clymer once more to, well, talk watches. They discussed several Rolex models as well as watches by Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. The episode’s main focus, however, was on variations of the Daytona, one of Mayer’s personal favourites. Of course, one of the models under consideration was the Ref. 116508, which Mayer jokingly referred to as a “sleeper hit.” Soon after, listeners interpreted it as a cue to rush to their nearest authorised retailer in search of the model.
The Ref. 116508 was sold out in less than a month, and waiting lists grew so long that dealers stopped taking names. It wasn’t just the traditional market that suffered. Secondary market prices soared to more than $15,000 above the list price. Mayer had made the model famous, but we hadn’t gotten to the best part yet. The wait is over for you. We’re overjoyed to have one of the iconic and difficult-to-find Ref. 116508 models in our inventory. Run, don’t walk, to get this model before it’s gone.