Rolex Daytona 116500LN Review: Luxury Meets Functionality

Rolex’s Cosmograph Daytona collection is a symbol of excellence and professional speed racing. First released decades ago in 1963, it got its name after Rolex was chosen to be the official timekeeper at the Daytona Florida raceway in 1962.

Its watches are famous for their robust designs, scratch-resistant cases, and big dials. Rolex has improved it over the years, from the First Generation (1963), Second Generation (1988), and the current Third Generation (2000).

The Third Generation has enjoyed most tweaks, starting with the six-digit references for its timepieces. One of its pieces, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116500LN, stepped into the horological limelight in Baselworld in 2016 and is highly sought-after among watch fans.

What makes it a top choice? We answer this and other similar questions in the comprehensive Rolex Daytona 116500LN review below.

The Case

Case

Rolex used 904L stainless steel (Oystersteel) for the ref. 116500LN’s case. 904L is a worthy pick since it’s more corrosion-resistant to seawater than 316L stainless steel. This is because it has higher chromium, molybdenum, and nickel levels.

Additionally, it has more luster, is harder, and handles and holds a polish better. That’s clear in the 116500LN’s 40mm well-polished, patented oyster case. The case’s 12.4mm thickness makes it feel less bulky around the wrist. Its short, curved lugs ensure its seamless connection to the bracelet and a comfortable wearing experience.

Additionally, it has:

  • A TripLock crown
  • Screw-down chronograph pushers 
  • A solid screw-down case back.
  • A bezel 

The steel TripLock screw-down crown has three dots under the coronet and was introduced by Rolex in 1970. It was first used on the Sea-Dweller timepiece and has three sealed zones; two of the O-ring gaskets are in the tube. Meanwhile, the third one is found in the winding crown. The intricate system grants the case an extremely resistant 100m-water resistance rating.

The steel chronograph pushers are between the crown and serve a stopwatch function. The pusher at 2 o’clock starts the dial, causing the second hand to move and keep track of the elapsed time. Pressing it again causes the timer to stop. The pusher at the 4 o’clock position resets the chronograph to zero (the 12 o’clock marker). 

The pushers and the steel screw-down caseback hinder accidental tampering while the wearer is underwater.

The Dial

Dial

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116500LN’s dial follows the pattern of its predecessors. It’s available in two colors:

  • White, with chronograph registers outlined in black
  • Black, with chronograph registers outlined in white

The white option (adorably referred to as ‘panda’ dial) offers a softer, relaxed vibe and is ideal for wearers with a taste for vintage Daytonas. It closely resembles earlier models like the Paul Newman Daytona refs. 6241 and 6243. On the other hand, the black variant suits the modern wearer with a craving for adventure. Its bold, black, masculine hue in real life evokes feelings of careless thrill-seeking.

For this review, we’ll focus on the white dial.

It has black Chromalight lume-applied hour hand and minute hand, a black seconds hand, 3 subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, and Chromalight lume-applied arrowhead index hour markers (the coronet sits at 12 o’clock).

The patented Chromalight luminescent material glows with a rich, blue hue- perfectly complementing the watch’s bold personality. It was first introduced by Rolex in 2008 and was first used in the Rolex Deepsea divers’ timepiece. 

It glows longer and is impressively bright, giving the wearer a sense of assurance and confidence even in darkness. Rolex ensured its magnificent glow lasts even longer in 2021 by adding a new and exclusive luminescent material.

The subdials are spaced evenly around the dial.

  • There’s a 30-minute subdial at 3 o’clock
  • There’s a running seconds indicator at 6 o’clock
  • There’s a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock

Rolex’s decision to maintain their position and sizing was good, as it reflects the brand’s track record of consistency. Besides, the registers and chronograph pushers are the Daytona chronograph’s trademark identity.

One of the most eye-catching features on the dial is the ‘DAYTONA’ printing that wraps around the subdial at 6 o’clock. Its red color adds a pinch of necessary contrast to the dial’s overall look and draws attention to it.

The Movement

Movement

Another one of Rolex’s significant improvements in the Third Generation Cosmograph Daytonas is the introduction of an in-house movement in them. The Rolex Daytona 116500LN uses the COSC-certified Caliber 4130 movement. The movement was first used in the ref. 116520 steel version in 2000.

Steel Daytonas have been equipped with various movements in the past that are not as powerful as the current Caliber 4130:

  • The Valjoux Caliber 72 in 1963
  • The Zenith El Primero movement, which was later referred to as the Caliber 4030, in 1988

The Caliber 4130 is a workhouse movement, meaning it has fewer components (201). It boasts clever engineering. It features Rolex’s trademark blue Parachrom hairspring that gives it unmatched resistance to shocks and temperature variations.

Additionally, it has 44 jewels (up from the previous 31), a 72-hour power reserve, a 28,800vph frequency, and an accuracy of -2/+2 seconds per day.

It’s a reliable movement that can meet the Cosmograph Daytona’s demanding requirements thanks to its vertical chronograph coupling system and larger balance wheel.

The Bezel

Bezel

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116500LN is equipped with a black ceramic ‘Cerachrom’ insert bezel. Wait, Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas, like the Oyster Perpetual GMT-Master II, have been using ceramic bezels since 2005, so what’s the big deal?

Well, Cerachrom is a beautiful replacement for acrylic and aluminum inserts that chip and crack with time. Additionally,

  • It keeps its pleasant, glossy shine for days- even years-since it’s resistant to UV rays
  • It’s virtually scratchproof
  • It’s corrosion-resistant
  • It provides the large-dial wow effect

Also, the ref. 116500LN’s bezel has some exciting, noteworthy features:

  • The digits on its tachymeter scale rotate around it
  • The engravings are filled with platinum PVD, making them bolder and easier to read
  • Rolex went with triangles rather than dots below the numbers on the tachymeter scale, giving it a more sporty feel.

The fixed, black bezel complements the black dial nicely. Plus, it completes the watch’s overall sporty look.

The Bracelet

Bracelet

This model has a steel 3-link oyster-style bracelet like its predecessors. However, the major difference is its sturdy links and rugged end links. This feature makes it resistant to stretching.

The satin outer links have a well-brushed finish. On the other hand, the center links have an appealing highly-polished finish. The glorious alternation makes for an eye-catching display, especially since the links at either end of the bracelet are fixed to the case’s polished lugs.

The bracelet also has an oysterlock double-folding clasp with a patented EasyLink extension system. This convenient system enables a wearer to increase or decrease the bracelet size by 5mm. The best part is it doesn’t require any tools or expertise to operate.

The bracelet’s luxurious look and exceptional finish make the watch versatile, as in place in the boardroom as it would be on the race track. Additionally, its slender and well-arranged links ensure watch enthusiasts enjoy wearing it no matter how long they decide to wear it.

The Competitive Landscape

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116500LN is a big name in the watch industry. Its design and rarity are some of the reasons its price is high. It leads the pack with the white and black dial versions retailing for S$19,981, according to the Rolex website.

Other players in the luxury sports watch category are stepping up to the challenge, offering equally exciting (and sometimes better) features than the ref. 116500LN and at more affordable prices. Many sports watches are vying for the top spot, but we’ll zoom in on the ones that pose a bigger threat to the Crown.

1. Omega Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial Chronometer Watch – Stainless Steel, Black Dial Ref. 329.30.44.51.01.002

Omega Speedmaster Racing Co-Axial Chronometer Black Dial Ref. 329.30.44.51.01.002
  • Production Year: 2017
  • Case Size: 44.25mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Black, with Super-LumiNova-applied orange hands, an 18K White Gold seconds hand, and arrowhead hour markers
    • Bracelet: Stainless steel, with a foldover clasp with a comfort setting
    • Bezel: Black ceramic, with ‘TACHYMETER’ printing in orange and Liquidmetal™ numerals
  • Function: Chronograph, Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Small Seconds, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Automatic Caliber Omega 9900 movement with 54 jewels, a 60-hour power reserve, and 28,800vph frequency

About

This offering from Omega offers a larger case size than its Rolex contender, along with a neater-looking dial, thanks to its subdials, and a sportier look with an attention-grabbing mix of colors. It also has a date window that makes it more functional and handy.

It’s also more pocket-friendly, with a retail price of S$12,239. It has a pre-owned price of between S$8,000 and S$9,000, depending on the seller.


2. Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Watch – Stainless Steel, Icy Blue Dial Ref. PB0134101C1S1

Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Watch- Icy Blue Dial Ref. PB0134101C1S1
  • Production Year: 2022
  • Case Size: 42mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Icy Blue, with silver-tone lume-applied hands and a blue seconds hand
    • Bracelet: Black rubber strap with a steel folding clasp buckle
    • Bezel: Platinum, unidirectional, ratcheted
  • Function: Chronograph, Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Small Seconds, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Self-winding mechanical in-house Caliber Breitling 01 movement with 47 jewels, a 70-hour power reserve (approximately), and a 28,800vph frequency

About

The Breitling Chronomat PB0134101C1S1 also has a larger case than Rolex-by 2mm. It also offers a unidirectional bezel, a better water resistance level, and a more flexible strap- making it more versatile and comfortable to almost every watch enthusiast.According to Breitling’s website, it has a retail price of S$13,113, which is more affordable than the Rolex Daytona ref.116500LN’s price tag. Its pre-owned price is between S$13,000 and S$14,000+.


3. Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph – Stainless Steel, White Dial Ref. SRQ035

ko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph- White Dial Ref. SRQ035
  • Production Year: 2021
  • Case Size: 41.5mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: White, with LumiBrite-applied baton-shaped hands and small dot hour markers
    • Bracelet: 3-link stainless steel, with super-hard coating and folding clasp
    • Bezel: Fixed, smooth, stainless steel
  • Function: Chronograph, Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Automatic with manual winding Caliber 8R46 movement with 34 jewels, a 45-hour power reserve (approximately), and 28,800vph frequency

About

This limited-edition piece has a simpler dial design, bigger pushers for easier control, and a larger case for a more motorsports-themed look. Despite its size, it’s also less bulky on the wrist. Its limited-edition status puts it in the same league as the stainless steel Daytona 116500LN. Despite its impressive features, it’s cheaper, with a retail price of S$4,304, according to Seiko’s website. Moreover, its pre-owned price lies between S$2,000 and S$3,000. It could be more or less depending on its condition and the seller.


4. Zenith Chronomaster Sport Watch – Stainless Steel, White Dial Ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100

Zenith Chronomaster Sport Watch- White Dial Ref. 03.3100.3600_69.M3100
  • Production Year: 2021
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: White, with a matte touch, silver-tone SuperLumi-Nova-applied hands and faceted hour markers, and a central chronograph hand with a red tip
    • Bracelet: 3-link brushed and polished stainless steel, with a safety folding clasp
    • Bezel: Black ceramic bezel, with a tachymeter scale with a 1/10th of a second graduation
  • Function: Chronograph, Date, Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Small Seconds, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Automatic Zenith El Primero Caliber 3600 chronograph movement with 35 jewels, a 60-hour power reserve, and 36,600vph frequency. It also features a horizontal clutch, blued column wheel, and star-shaped openworked rotor

About

This masterpiece from Zenith is a worthy opponent of the Rolex Daytona 116500LN in several ways: It has a tri-color dial that enhances visibility and adds a colorful, exciting touch to time-telling. Additionally, it boasts a larger case and a powerful automatic movement that bits at 36,600vph!

This impressive feat is made possible by its central chronograph hand that makes a single turn in ten seconds- six times the speed of a usual chronograph hand. The Zenith Chronomaster ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 also has an exhibition caseback, compared to the Daytona Cosmograph’s ref.116500LN’s screw-down caseback. Moneywise, it’s more pocket-friendly, with a retail price of S$14,794, as per Zenith’s website. Its pre-owned price lies between S$10,000 and S$11,000+.


Comparison Table

The following table highlights the primary features of the options above:

Model

Key Features

Omega Speedmaster Racing Chronometer Watch Ref. 329.30.44.51.01.002

  • Date window at 6 o’clock
  • Self-winding Caliber Omega 9900 movement
  • Subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock

Breitling Chronomat B01 42 Watch Ref. PB0134101C1S1

  • Water resistance to 200m
  • Unidirectional bezel
  • Screwed-in sapphire crystal case back

Seiko Prospex Speedtimer Mechanical Chronograph Ref. SRQ035

  • Tachymeter scale on an inner flange
  • Arabic numerals and batons for the tenth of minutes
  • Small luminous dot hour markers

Zenith Chronomaster Sport Watch Ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100

  • Tri-color dial (silver, anthracite, and blue counters)
  • Automatic El Primero 3600 1/10th of a second chronograph movement
  • Date aperture between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock

Why You Should Invest?

The Rolex Daytona ref. 116500LN is hard to come across, making it desirable among watch enthusiasts. Experts and watch aficionados estimate that Rolex makes between 20,000 and 40,000 Daytonas annually. This output isn’t enough for the ever-growing, loyal fanbase.

Additionally, the great watch retains its value and even increases in worth with time. That explains why it’s in high demand in the pre-owned market (its pre-owned price is approximately S$36,978 for the white dial version and S$37,113 for the black dial version). And why it’s close to impossible getting it for retail.

Lastly, it maintains its beautiful, classy look for an extended period, thanks to the high-quality materials used to make it, such as a scratch and UV-ray-resistant ceramic ‘Cerachrom’ bezel, a well-polished and brushed 904L oyster case and bracelet, and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal over the dial.

Note: The watch needs servicing from a professional to stay attractive and be at its best in terms of performance. According to Rolex, Rolex watches should be taken to an Official Rolex Service Center or Retailer for servicing after approximately every ten years.

Final Word

The Rolex Daytona 116500LN deserves all the hype. It expertly combines luxury and functionality. Its elegant yet sporty design, long waiting list, and price tag are proof it can successfully survive any storm-financial or not. What’s more, its modern and well-calculated improvements give it an edge over its competitors anytime, any day.

Key Takeaways

  • The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN is most famous for its black ‘Cerachrom’ bezel and Rolex’s latest and high-precision Rolex Caliber 4130 in-house movement.
  • The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN is in high demand in the pre-owned market and is nearly impossible to get at retail.
  • The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116500 is a worthy investment since it retains its value with time, can even appreciate in worth through the years, and maintains its beautiful luxurious look over time.
  • The Rolex Daytona ref. 116500LN’s modern and well-calculated improvements put it a step ahead of its competitors.
  • The Rolex Daytona 116500LN’s sporty dial, bezel, and well-polished bracelet make it a versatile timepiece that fits any environment.

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