Today, the Daytona is among Rolex’s most prominent and iconic lines of watches, with certain vintage references attaining unimaginable levels of value and collectability. Although Rolex has been manufacturing the Cosmograph Daytona since 1963 - and wristwatches with chronograph functions for a number of decades prior to that, the reference 6263 is among the most desirable Daytona references ever created, and is considered by many to be the vintage Daytona reference to own.
Sitting near the intersection of the early hand-wound, Valjoux-movement chronographs and the self-winding, Zenith-movement Daytona watches that superseded them, the reference 6263 possesses characteristics of both early and later-era vintage Daytona watches. Although by all accounts, the reference 6263 is a decidedly vintage timepiece, it represents the point in the Daytona’s history when Rolex’s now-legendary chronograph first started to take its contemporary form.
The reference 6263’s 37mm case-diameter, acrylic crystal, and manually wound Valjoux-based movement give the reference 6263 a lot of common ground with the early Daytona watches that preceded it. However, its screw-down chronograph pushers and crown give the watch a slightly more modern and sports-oriented appearance, allowing it to sit perfectly at the crossroads of vintage and contemporary Rolex aesthetics. One of the defining characteristics of the reference 6263 Daytona is its black, acrylic bezel. Most Daytona watches of the time were fitted with metal bezels that were engraved with their respective tachymeter scales. However, the black acrylic bezel on the reference 6263 added a solid ring of dark, contrasting color around the face of the watch, which paired perfectly with the contrasting color of the chronograph registers on its dial.
The black Cerachrom (ceramic) bezel that is fitted to the contemporary rendition of Rolex’s Daytona can trace its design origins back to the black acrylic bezel that made an appearance on the reference 6263 Daytona. With the exception of ceramic and acrylic variants, the Daytona’s bezel has traditionally been craft from a solid piece of metal, which dramatically influences the overall shape and appearance of the watch. Although a seemingly minor variation, the black acrylic bezel on the reference 6263 makes for a significantly different appearance than the stainless steel bezel that is fitted to the otherwise identical, reference 6265. The Daytona is widely considered to be one of the most prestigious and passionately collected Rolex watches of all time, and the reference 6263 ranks among the most valuable and sought-after Daytona references that Rolex has ever put forward. Part of what makes the reference 6263 so alluring to collectors is the variation of dials that exists among these legendary watches.
While the vast majority of reference 6263 Daytona watches received regular, black and silver dials with chronograph registers finished in a contrasting color, a relatively small number of reference 6263 Daytona watches were fitted with either black or white “exotic” dials that featured a slightly art deco style font and design. Although highly unpopular at the time of their initial release, these “exotic dial” Daytona watches have become the legendary and ultra-valuable, “Paul Newman Daytona” chronographs that are so fiercely sought-after by collectors today.
The reference 6263 Rolex Daytona is considered by many to be among the most desirable wristwatches in the world, with pristine examples fitted with Paul Newman dials fetching upwards of a million dollars when they sell at auction. Any well-preserved example of the reference 6263 Daytona is among the most highly coveted Rolex watches of all time, and “Newman Dial” configurations of this legendary watch are able to reach mind-boggling sale prices whenever they manage to surface and make it to auction. With an unparalleled level of attention from the collecting community centered upon the reference 6263, this vintage Daytona is possibly one of the most iconic and important watches that Rolex has ever manufactured.
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