As Revolution’s Rolex and Tudor Editor I make no secret of my love for what could be seen as two opposite ends of ‘Wilsdorf’s Wonderful Watch World’ – namely vintage Tudor MilSubs and modern perpetual Daytonas. My first Basel 2019 review focuses on the latter – the Rolex Daytona 116588 TBR. Unveiled this week, it’s the latest offering from Rolex in their ‘special’ Daytonas line-up. Over recent years we have seen vintage Rolex collectors taking a new interest in rare modern pieces. In the main, these pieces tend to be gem-set sports watches and arguably, the most coveted are Daytonas. The obvious example are the Rainbow Daytonas, which are seriously in-demand and sell on the secondary market at three or four times the retail price.
This year’s Daytona is a familiar model that has had a serious facelift! Reference 116518 has been in the Rolex catalog since 2000 and was originally supplied on a leather strap, with deployant clasp and fixed short endlinks. Over the years, this sports stalwart has been available with a plethora of dial variations. The 116518 becomes the 116588 when a gem set bezel is added to the watch, a numbering system that has been in place since the Zenith-movement Daytona era. This year’s watch is in yellow gold (hence the last ‘8’ in the reference number) and is driven by Rolex’s in-house calibre 4130 movement. The bezel is set with 38 trapeze-cut diamonds, which gives the watch a totally different look to the regular yellow gold tachymeter bezel and strikes a beautiful balance between hip-hop bling and refined elegance. Sounds easy, but its actually a very fine and delicate balance to try and achieve this.
And of course, it needed a nickname. A Daytona hasn’t truly arrived until its been christened with its also-known-as. We have Rainbow, Beach, Platona already in Rolex folk-lore. And now, thanks to Editor-at-Large Suzanne Wong we have the “Eye of The Tiger’. Take a look. Can you see it? The champagne sub dials are intertwined with diamond and black laquer that looks cool and like, well a tiger’s face. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder – well it is with this tiger!