Week on the Wrist: Rolex Daytona (by someone who doesn’t really get the hype)

I set out to write this article as a watch enthusiast who has never really understood the fiery passions that the Rolex Daytona inspires. Sure, it’s a beautiful watch, but you can say that about most Rolexes. How it can command multi-year waiting lists and regular 2-3x list price markups has always been beyond me. I was lucky enough to have a friend, one of the aforementioned zealots, who agreed to lend me his for a good, old-fashioned “Week on the Wrist” write-up. I was all ready to take this thing around my day-to-day paces and see what all the fuss was about when the order came down: 

Everyone please stay inside, forever. 

Love,

The World.

So here we are. A Week on the Wrist, quarantined inside a small NYC apartment edition.

Martins of Glasgow Watch Servicing and Repair

DAY 1:

Waking up and getting ready for work in the morning, I am immediately struck by the versatility of this watch. It looks as good with my black sweatpants and grandpa slippers as it does with grey sweatpants and barefoot. A true all-arounder.

 

My journey begins on my faux mid-century modern sofa. Deciding whether or not I really need to watch Tiger King first thing in the morning, or do something more productive with my time. The Oyster case and bracelet are as perfectly formed and comfortable as they have been on other Rolexes I have had the privilege of wearing. A quick flip of the wrist to see how many hours I have lost feeling depressed about the state of big cat conservation is a pleasure.

The morning kitchen is where this thing really starts to shine. The superlative chronometer ensures the exact brew time for my grocery store-bought, pre-ground French Roast, making it as mediocre as “Big Agra” intended. Minus 2 points for the sense of dread the watch inspires, being terrified of bumping it on any surface while I go about my routine.

On to the work day.

The next eight hours are fairly dull for the Rolex Daytona, functioning as a very attractive paperweight, as I set it aside for a G-Shock in order to avoid adding any unnecessary desk-diving marks to a watch I do not own. I leave it on the desk and glance over at it every minute or so though, and I am definitely starting to see the aesthetic appeal.

Finally nighttime. 8pm. I dress up in my finest fleece blanket and once again hit the couch. A glance at the glossy black dial with perfectly applied markers tells me that I still have five minutes until Netflix comes on. Plenty of time to compose my thoughts on this piece. I wonder if anyone on “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” will drive a perfectly straight, uninterrupted quarter mile so I can test out this tachymeter bezel? Probably not.

DAY 2: Re-read Day 1. Every day is the same now.

All jokes aside, in my Week on the Wrist that has now become at least three weeks, I have grown very fond of this watch, and I will be sad when I have to return it. It rides a very fine line between sporty and luxury and I think it hits the sweet spot. The glossy black dial and shiny silver subdials and bezel can give it a look of fancy luxury or understated moodiness, depending on how you look at it, or how you feel that day. The Oyster case and long-ish curved lugs give it a perfect fit, and comfort level is only increased by the perfectly engineered bracelet that is a sheer joy to operate and wear.

This was the first Daytona with the in-house Rolex 4130 movement and its heralded vertical clutch, giving it a noticeably smoother and better tactile performance than other mechanical chronographs I have operated. Much has been written about the 4130’s technical achievements so I won’t delve into that here; a quick google will find you a load of information. I checked the accuracy using a watch tracking app and it is currently running about -8 seconds per day. A little outside of Superlative Chronometer specs, but certainly admirable for a 15-ish year old watch that likely never been serviced.

So after all of this, would I buy it? Probably not. For whatever reason, as lovely as it is, it still just doesn’t speak to me personally in the way the Rolex Explorer or Submariner do. I can’t explain it, personal taste is a fickle thing. At the end of the day, though, I would call this mission accomplished. I got to spend many weeks with a fantastic watch and finally, in a way that just looking at photos and reading hyperbolic text cannot offer, come to a conclusion: While it’s not the grail watch for me, I definitely get it now.