Pre-Owned Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Watches

The Rolex Daytona embodies racing heritage and high-precision timekeeping in a durable and reliable chronograph watch. With a smooth bezel, contrasting sub-dials, and a tachymeter scale, purchasing a pre-owned Rolex Daytona gives you the chance to own one of the most iconic racing-inspired sports models in horology. Browse our collection of gently used Daytona models below.

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The Four Generations of Rolex Daytona Watches

Over 60 years since its debut, the Rolex Daytona has undergone three defining eras and just entered a fourth - building upon proven elements of past references each time.

First Generation Rolex Daytona Models (1963 to the late 80s)

1963 truly sparked Rolex’s entry into the world of sports timing and racing spirit. The reference 6239 established signature characteristics like the contrasting sub-dial design and engraved metal bezel paired with Valjoux manual-wind movements. Within a few years, Rolex added enhancements like screw-down pushers and engraved the “Daytona” name on the dial.

Over the first generation spanning the 1960s to the late 1980s, Rolex continued refining early Daytona models with small updates.

First Generation Rolex Daytona's Key Features:

  • Four-digit Rolex reference numbers
  • Manual-wind mechanical movements
  • Valjoux calibers
  • Screw-down or pump pushers
  • Tachymeter bezels
  • Stainless steel, 14k or 18k gold
  • Contrasting subdial colors
  • Acrylic bezels becoming common
  • Rare exotic dials/Paul Newman dials

Popular First Generation Reference Numbers

  • Ref. 6239
  • Ref. 6240
  • Ref. 6241
  • Ref. 6262
  • Ref. 6263
  • Ref. 6264
  • Ref. 6265
  • Ref. 6269
  • Ref. 6270

Second Generation Rolex Daytona Models (1988-2000)

With the arrival of the reference 16520 in 1988, Rolex equipped the Daytona with its first automatic movement based on the proven Zenith El Primero caliber.

The self-winding mechanism was the game changer for the second-generation Daytona. But Rolex introduced many other updates - the case grew to 40mm, its acrylic crystal made way for scratch-resistant sapphire, and subtle dial refinements that still retained the collection's classic contrasting sub-dial aesthetic.

Second Generation Upgrades:

  • Self-winding automatic movements
  • Five-digit references
  • 40mm case diameter
  • Zenith El Primero-based Caliber 4030

Popular Second Generation Reference Numbers

  • Ref. 16520
  • Ref. 16523
  • Ref. 16528
  • Ref. 16518
  • Ref. 16519

Third Generation Rolex Daytona Models (2000-2023)

Reference 116520 debuted in 2000. After over a decade of using modified Zenith movements, Rolex achieved a major watchmaking accomplishment - unveiling their first in-house manufactured chronograph caliber.

The sophisticated Caliber 4130 set a higher standard for the collection, increasing power reserve while simplifying the intricacies. Our master watchmaker Glenn Rutledge has worked on a lot of movements in his 40 years of experience, and he thinks the 4130 is the best movement ever made.

Third Generation Updates:

  • In-house Rolex manufactured Caliber 4130
  • Six-digit references
  • Cerachrom ceramic & metal bezels
  • Chromalight luminescence
  • Relocated subdials and running seconds
  • Leather/Oysterflex strap options

Popular Third Generation Reference Numbers

  • Ref. 116520
  • Ref. 116503
  • Ref. 116505
  • Ref. 116508
  • Ref. 116509
  • Ref. 116500LN
  • Ref. 116506
  • Ref. 116523

The Fourth Generation Rolex Daytona (2023 - Present)

2023 marked a new generation for the mighty Rolex Daytona, though subtle at first glance. With the debut of reference 126500LN, Rolex enhanced their proven Caliber with a 4131 automatic chronograph movement for even greater precision and reliability.

For the first time, Rolex introduced a sapphire case back on the Le Mans edition of the Daytona so owners can admire the updated movement within this special release commemorating the iconic 24-hour endurance race.

Additionally, Rolex introduced the unique Caliber 4132, especially for the Daytona Le Mans centenary edition. Thanks to an added 24-hour chronograph differential, this module extends elapsed timing from 12 to 24 hours.

4th Generation Upgrades:

  • Updated Caliber 4131 movement
  • Refined case and bracelet design
  • Dial refinements - thinner hour markers and registers
  • Sapphire case back (platinum model)
  • Special Caliber 4132 with 24-hour chronograph module (Le Mans edition)

The Paul Newman Daytona

The Paul Newman Daytona is a term that was never an official designation by Rolex. It was rather coined by 'Rolex collectors' and attributed to the distinctive style of Daytona dials that the Hollywood star wore during the 1970s.

The specific dial that bears his name features art deco-style numerals, contrasting color sub-dials, and an outer track that matches the sub-dial color.

Newman was a great accidental brand ambassador. A professional racing driver himself, he was gifted the Rolex Chronograph ref. 6239 inscribed ‘Drive Carefully Me’ by his wife and instantly fell in love with it. His association with the brand would arguably propel the Daytona (which initially wasn't the most popular of Rolex's lines) into the pages of fame.

A fun fact is that his Rolex Daytona was sold for a staggering $17.8M in October 2017, making it the most expensive used Rolex ever auctioned.

What Makes the Rolex Daytona so Special?

Buying a secondhand Rolex Daytona is a thrilling proposition for any enthusiast. As Rolex's sole chronograph offering, the Daytona occupies a unique space in the brand's catalogue that any other model cannot replicate. When you slip a Daytona on your wrist, a rich heritage of motorsports and timing history connects with you.

Rolex Daytona Movements

The Modern Daytonas from 2000 onwards used the calibre 4130, an in-house self-winding mechanical chronograph movement. Further refined to the 4131 and 4132 in 2023. Older models used modified Zenith El Primero movements or Valjoux 72 movements.

Rolex Daytona Dials

Daytonas feature a triple register dial layout with subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock positions for chronograph hours, minutes, and running seconds respectively. Dials come in various colors and materials, including black, white, champagne, silver, and mother-of-pearl. Some dials feature exotic designs like the "Paul Newman" style with contrasting colors and Art Deco font.

Rolex Daytona Sizes

Modern Daytonas have a case diameter of 40mm and a thickness of around 12.5mm. Older models had smaller case sizes around 37mm.

Rolex Daytona Materials

Daytonas are available in stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, Everose gold (Rolex's proprietary rose gold alloy), and platinum. Some models feature a combination of materials such as stainless steel with a ceramic bezel or gold with a leather strap.

Other Features

  • Daytonas have a water resistance rating of 100 meters (330 feet).
  • They feature a screw-down crown and chronograph pushers for improved water resistance.
  • Sapphire crystal is used for the watch glass, ensuring scratch resistance and durability.

Investing in a Used Rolex Daytona

The Daytona is arguably hands down one of the best watches for investment period. Vintage Rolex sport models like the Daytona have seen a surge of interest as blue-chip collectibles in recent years.

While brand-new models often have long waitlists at authorized dealers, the preowned market allows buyers instant access to purchase the exact reference they want. At Watch Chest, our experts also authenticate all watches, a valuable service that guarantees you are purchasing a genuine model. Many of the gently used Rolex Daytonas we offer also come with box and papers, further reinforcing provenance.

Whether buying to wear daily or as an heirloom investment piece, pre-owned Daytonas present strong resale value potential thanks to the diehard Daytona collectors and the enduring prestige of the Rolex name.

Price Trends for Pre-Owned Rolex Daytonas

Prices for pre-owned Rolex Daytonas fluctuate and depend greatly on the specific reference, production year, condition, and market demand. Among all the Rolex watches though, the Daytona consistently commands the highest premiums on the secondary market.

As price appreciation for the Daytona line continues on an upward trajectory over time, buying one from a reputable shop with competitive pricing like Watch Chest means you acquire the best model for your budget.

Why Buy a Pre-Owned Rolex Daytona From Watch Chest?

With over 20 years of pre-owned Rolex expertise, Watch Chest provides collectors confidence when buying online.

Online Shopping Convenience

Online Inventory Access - Browse an extensive range of pre-owned Daytona chronographs from the comfort of your home. No waitlists for the most in-demand references.

Trusted Quality & Durability

Built to Last for Decades - As Rolex's legendary racing chronograph, even decades-old Daytonas perform with precise timekeeping thanks to high-quality movements designed for motorsports demands.

Certified Authentic

Genuine Authentic Products - We authenticate every pre-owned Daytona offered for sale through a multipoint inspection. Our expertise guarantees you receive a genuine Rolex backed by a 2-year warranty.

Rolex Daytona Restoration

Beyond selling guaranteed authentic pre-owned Rolex Daytona chronographs, we also specialize in restoring these iconic vintage drivers to their original glory.

Our master watchmaker Glenn Rutledge has years of experience specifically working on complex Rolex chronograph movements. Our expert will diagnose issues, fully disassemble, clean, and rebuild your Daytona to impeccable standards.

We go beyond technical overhaul to aesthetically refresh the case and bracelet to achieve a period-correct finish.

The end result is a revived vintage Daytona ready for racing, restored both inside and out. It will run smoothly for years to come thanks to our expert TLC. What’s more, we back our restoration work with a 1-year warranty.

We Can Find and Source Your Dream Secondhand Rolex Daytona

Our online inventory boasts popular references, but what if you don't see the model you're interested in?

No problem - our knowledgeable team sources hard-to-find vintage Rolex worldwide.

The Ultimate Destination for Authentic Pre-Owned Rolex Daytonas

We authenticate every Daytona offered for sale and stand behind them with our warranty to assist clients in building the perfect Rolex collections. Contact Chris Wiley and the team anytime to inquire about our pre-owned Rolex Daytonas.

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Copyright © 2002-present Watch Chest, LLC. All rights reserved. Watch Chest is an independent watch dealer and is not sponsored by, associated with and/or affiliated with Rolex, S.A, or any other brands advertised by Watch Chest. The brand names and associated model names of Rolex and other advertised brands are the trademarks of their respective owners. Regardless of physical condition, all watches sold by Watch Chest are pre-owned in terms of ownership status according to legal regulations. Watch Chest provides its own warranties for the products it sells, and watches sold with manufacturer warranties are generally recognized, though their guarantee is not absolute.