There is no other luxury chronograph that comes close to the popularity of the Rolex Daytona. This motorsport-inspired chronograph line has been the must-have Rolex sports watch for decades, despite its rocky start. In the year 2000, Rolex released a collection of watches that have been termed the “Rolex Daytona Beach” series, characterized by colorful dials and matching exotic straps. Let’s get a closer look at the Rolex Daytona Beach collection and outline what makes these watches so special.
What is a Rolex Daytona Beach?
A Rolex Daytona Beach is one of four special white gold Cosmograph Daytona watches with the reference number 116519, released by Rolex in their 2000 lineup. Every so-called Rolex Beach Daytona features a special Rolex dial in exotic colorful materials and pastel tones, and a matching lizard strap.
The Rolex Daytona Beach Collection
Rolex made the Daytona 116519 “Beach” watches in four colorways:
- Green Daytona Beach 116519
- Blue (Turquoise) Daytona Beach 116519
- Pink Daytona Beach 116519
- Yellow Daytona Beach 116519
Regardless of the dial color, all four variants share the following traits:
- White gold Roman numeral hour markers
- The rectangular hour markers at 3, 6, and 9 are filled with black lacquer and not luminescence
- The original factory hands also had black lacquer instead of luminescence
Green Daytona Beach 116519
The first Beach was green, fitted with a chrysoprase dial (a chalcedony variant that gets its hue from nickel) and a matching green lizard strap. This version has since become the most desirable of the foursome among Rolex collectors.
Blue (Turquoise) Daytona Beach 116519
Next in line is the Daytona Beach 116519 with a turquoise dial, which I’m sure we can all agree has been the hottest color in watches over the last few years thanks in no small part to Tiffany & Co. Again, we have a blue lizard strap that matches the dial color perfectly.
Pink Daytona Beach 116519
The Pink Rolex Daytona Beach is one of two Beach watches with colored mother-of-pearl dials, officially called “Candy Rose.” The Candy Rose variant includes a pink lizard strap, and commands a lower price on the secondary market than the green or blue variants.
Yellow Daytona Beach 116519
The yellow Daytona Beach 116519 also features a special mother-of-pearl dial, dubbed “Champagne Nacre” in Rolex catalogs. Again the Yellow Beach is furnished with a matching yellow lizard strap. While it easily sells for over $60,000, Rolex mother-of-pearl dials don’t quite command the premium of true stone dials like the chrysoprase and turquoise stone dials.
Rolex Daytona Beach Prices
In 2023, Luxury Bazaar obtained and quickly sold all four of the Rolex Daytona Beach variants. They were priced as follows:
|Model||Secondary Market List Price 2023|
|Green Daytona Beach 116519||$95,950|
|Blue (Turquoise) Daytona Beach 116519||$95,950|
|Pink Daytona Beach 116519||$55,995|
|Yellow Daytona Beach 116519||$69,950|
Historically, Rolex was selling the Daytona 116519 Beach watches for around $30,000 in 2000. For years, the Beach models sold for less than standard white gold Daytonas on the secondary market. But naturally, the market value for these pieces has gone up tremendously thanks to the growing interest in rare and/or uncommon Rolex watches. They weren’t huge sellers back in the day and only remained in the Rolex collection for a handful of years.
The 2000 White Gold Daytona Release
In 2000, Rolex revamped its entire Daytona collection to run on an in-house chronograph movement called the Caliber 4130. This was a significant upgrade given that past automatic Daytona chronographs ran on modified Zenith El-Primero movements.
As they did with the 5-digit Rolex Daytona lineup in 1988, Rolex unveiled then-new steel, yellow gold, two-tone steel and yellow gold, and white gold models of its flagship chronograph all at once. Unlike the three other options, the white gold version was initially not available with an Oyster bracelet; it was exclusively paired with a leather strap and given the reference number 116519.
All 1165xx Daytona models, including the white gold Daytona 116519, featured:
- 40mm Oyster case water resistant to 100 meters
- Screw-down chronograph pushers and screw-down winding crown
- A trio of counters on the dial
- Tachymeter scale engraved into the bezel
- Caliber 4130 automatic movement
Aside from the classic dial options, such as white, black, champagne, and the like, Rolex also offered the Daytona 116519 with more colorful so-called “Beach” dial options, as seen in the dial selection catalog from Rolex above.
Rolex Daytona Beach Boxes and Accessories
Another interesting component of the Rolex Daytona Beach models is that they came inside boxes and were accompanied by accessories (guarantee wallet, box cover, etc.) in the same colorway as the watch. So pink textured boxes for the pink Daytona Beach, yellow textured boxes for the yellow Daytona Beach, and so on. This is quite the departure from Rolex’s signature green, gold, and beige packaging.
Rolex Daytona Beach Factory Conversions
It’s important to mention that Rolex was a lot more flexible in the past than it is today. For instance, owners of white gold Daytona ref. 116509 models (fitted with Oyster bracelets instead of leather straps) could special order these colorful dials from the company. What’s more, owners of more classically colored Daytona 116519 models could order the Beach-style dials and lizard straps for their watches too; of course, these (factory) converted Daytona watches wouldn’t have the colorful packaging.
These conversions help to explain why you’ll see examples that look like Daytona Beach watches but upon closer inspection, they include details that don’t match up with the original factory edition ones.
Interestingly, the beach dials continued to appear in the company’s catalog for over a decade. In fact, some 116509 owners (white gold Rolex Daytona with Oyster bracelet) acquired turquoise or chrysoprase dials simply by requesting one during an overhaul at a Rolex Service Center. Since about 2021, RSC no longer seems to offer exotic dials for dial swaps.
Marketing the Rolex Daytona Beach Series
Rolex actively marketed these Daytona Beach watches to women, as illustrated by these two ads from the early 2000s. The one on the left explicitly says “Time to Share the Legend” with a female model in the picture, which we can take to mean it was time for men to share ownership of the Daytona with women! I found the other ad featuring the pink version in a 2003 issue of Vanity Fair magazine. In fact, Rolex was heavily advertising the Rolex Daytona to women in the 2000s, particularly gem-set gold versions.
Irrespective of who Rolex intended these watches for, Daytona Beach models have become popular with both men and women, illustrating the universal appeal of Rolex Daytona chronographs.
I’ve said it many times before; when Rolex decides to bring out its wilder side to give us styles that are more daring, colorful, and lavish than what we’ve come to expect from the brand, it’s always a treat — even if they don’t align with your particular taste. There are plenty of classic Daytona executions to choose from, and having a few like the Daytona Beach watches that are a little off-kilter for the conservative brand is never a bad thing. In fact, they often become collectible pieces in the long run.