Rolex Daytona Panda 116500LN Review: A Collector’s Dream Watch

The Rolex Panda, officially known as the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, stands out with its black and white color scheme. Inspired by racing cars and linked to Paul Newman, it boasts a rich history. 

Its rarity, especially in pristine condition, is notable since the Rolex Daytona Panda 116500LN is discontinued. This model is a great investment, with high market demand driving up prices. 

It’s a beautiful addition to any watch collection and a smart financial choice. Discover more about purchasing and valuing this model in our detailed Rolex Panda review.

What is the Rolex Panda?

The “Rolex Panda” is a nickname given to a variant of the Rolex Daytona. This particularly refers to models with a white and black dial, such as the Rolex Daytona 116500LN. 

This design mimics the appearance of a panda’s face, which is where the nickname originates. Popular for its striking, high-contrast look, the Rolex Panda is visually distinctive and highly sought after for its readability and classic style. It’s no surprise why it is a favorite among watch collectors and enthusiasts.

Historical Context and Overview

The Rolex steel Daytona, tracing back to 1963, was initially designed to meet the precision timing needs of professional race car drivers. Named after the renowned Daytona International Speedway in Florida, the early models Rolex introduced featured a tachymetric scale. This is crucial for measuring high speeds.

In the late 1960s, it introduced screw-down pushers to enhance water resistance and prevent accidental chronograph activation. The late 1980s marked a pivotal shift from manual winding to automatic movements. It began with a modified Zenith El Primero movement, which greatly increased its appeal by combining traditional Rolex quality with the convenience of automatic winding.

By 2000, Rolex had achieved a new level of autonomy by incorporating its first in-house movement, the Caliber 4130, into its mechanical watches, including the New Rolex Daytona. This period also introduced refined aesthetics, such as the Cerachrom ceramic bezel in 2016, which paired advanced materials with the classic design of the stainless steel Daytona.

Design and Aesthetics

Case and Dial

Rolex Panda Case

The Rolex Daytona’s key feature is the use of Cerachrom bezel inserts. This proprietary ceramic material is extremely hard, corrosion-resistant, and impervious to ultraviolet rays, ensuring that it does not fade over time. 

Rolex Panda Dial

Its aesthetic appeal is heightened by the stark contrast between the black subdials and the white main dial, which creates a striking look and enhances legibility. 

This is further complemented by the Chromalight display on the hour markers and hands, which emits a long-lasting blue glow in low-light conditions, ensuring readability no matter the environment.

Materials and Finishes

The Rolex ceramic steel Daytona is primarily constructed from Oystersteel. This is a 904L steel developed by the brand, known for its superior corrosion resistance and polished finish that retains its beauty even in the harshest environments. 

The case and bracelet feature a combination of polished and brushed finishes, providing a sophisticated look that highlights the contours and architecture of the watch. This blend of finishes enhances the watch’s visual appeal, which explains why it’s popular among watch enthusiasts.

Movement and Technical Specifications

In-House Caliber 4130

Caliber 4130

At the heart of the Rolex Daytona is the in-house Caliber 4130, a robust and reliable movement. Introduced in 2000, this automatic chronograph movement represents a significant advancement in watchmaking technology, featuring fewer components than a standard chronograph. 

The Caliber 4130 is equipped with a 72-hour power reserve. This allows the watch to run for three days on a single wind—an excellent feature for users who might alternate between different Rolex watches. 

Additionally, it includes a Parachrom hairspring, which is much less susceptible to shocks and temperature variations, maintaining accuracy in varied conditions. The movement also boasts Superlative Chronometer certification, ensuring it meets Rolex’s stringent standards for precision.

Chronograph Mechanism

The Rolex Daytona’s chronograph function is engineered for precision and smooth operation, incorporating a vertical clutch and a column wheel mechanism. 

Its vertical clutch design helps start the chronograph seamlessly without any jump or delay. It allows the chronograph to function continuously without affecting the watch’s accuracy. 

Meanwhile, the column wheel plays a crucial role in the smooth and precise operation of starting, stopping, and resetting the chronograph functions, providing tactile feedback and enhancing the overall tactile experience of operating the chronograph.

Additional Technical Specs

The Rolex Daytona offers water resistance up to 100 meters, sufficient for swimming and aquatic sports but not deep-sea diving. 

Its typical case dimensions are 40mm in diameter, providing a substantial presence on the user’s wrist while maintaining a comfortable fit for most users. 

Other technical specifications include a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and a triple-lock crown that ensures the watch remains waterproof and secure under various conditions. 

Bracelet and Clasp

Oyster Bracelet

The Rolex Daytona is outfitted with the iconic Oyster bracelet. This bracelet features a harmonious combination of polished and brushed finishes that enhance its aesthetic and help conceal scratches, making it suitable for both formal and casual settings. 

The polished center links are flanked by brushed outer links, providing a sophisticated look that complements the watch’s overall design. 

Oysterlock Clasp with Easylink

The Oyster bracelet comes with the Oysterlock safety clasp, which prevents accidental opening—an essential feature for a sports watch. This clasp is robust and secure, designed to withstand the usual rigors of regular wear and the demands of racing environments. 

Additionally, it includes the Easylink 5mm comfort extension link, a practical feature developed by Rolex that allows the watch user to adjust the bracelet length by approximately 5mm. This extension can be useful in scenarios where the wrist expands due to changes in temperature or physical activity.

Comfort and Adjustability

User experience with the Rolex Daytona often highlights the exceptional comfort and adjustability of the Oyster bracelet. The thoughtful design of the clasp, coupled with the Easylink extension, allows wearers to achieve a perfect fit, enhancing the overall wearing experience. 

Users frequently note the seamless integration of the watch into daily life, whether in business meetings, at formal events, or during sporting activities, underscoring its versatility and user-focused design.

Functional Features

Chronograph and Tachymeter

The Rolex Daytona has a highly functional chronograph that enables users to measure elapsed time with great precision. 

This feature is seamlessly integrated into the three sub-dials on the watch’s face, providing hours, minutes, and seconds measurements that are easily readable at a glance. 

Complementing the chronograph is the tachymeter scale, which is engraved on the bezel. The tachymeter calculates speed based on travel time or measures distance based on speed, an essential function for those in the racing world. 

Usability in Everyday Life

Despite its roots in professional racing, the Rolex Daytona is designed for practicality and user-friendliness in everyday life. The chronograph functions are easy to operate, with pushers that respond with a satisfying click. 

This usability extends to the legibility of the dial and the tachymeter scale, designed for quick and easy reading under various lighting conditions. The watch’s robust construction, water resistance, and durable materials also ensure it can handle the rigors of daily wear, from business meetings to casual outings and even more rugged activities. 

Investment and Collectability

Rolex Daytona Panda 116500LN Close up

Market Value and Trends

The Rolex Daytona, particularly in its iconic configurations like the “Panda” dial, has seen a significant appreciation in market value over time, establishing it as a premier investment piece in the world of luxury sports watches. While it originally retailed at around S$20,650, its market price has ballooned to S$37,045, as per the details on Watch Charts.

This model has consistently demonstrated strong historical appreciation, attributed to its enduring popularity and the prestige associated with the Rolex brand. 

Factors Contributing to Collectability

Several factors contribute to the high collectibility of the Rolex Daytona. Its limited availability is a crucial element; Rolex intentionally keeps production numbers low, which perpetuates a sense of exclusivity among potential buyers. 

Additionally, the watch’s reputation and demonstrated ability to hold and increase in value over time make it a highly attractive investment. Collectors often regard the Daytona as a timepiece and a tangible asset that can complement a diversified investment portfolio.

Comparisons with Other Models

The Rolex Panda is unique but often compared to other notable models from other brands. Take a closer look at their similarities, mostly in design and uniqueness, as they embody varying brand principles. 

1. Omega Speedmaster Ref. 326.32.40.50.04.001

Omega Speedmaster Ref. 326.32.40.50.04.001
  • Production Year: 2012
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: White
    • Bracelet: Rubber
    • Bezel: Stainless steel
  • Function: Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Chronograph, Date, Tachymeter
  • Mechanism: Automatic, Omega 3330, 52-Hour Power Reserve

About

The Omega Speedmaster Racing Ref. 326.32.40.50.04.001, features a stainless steel watch case with a 40mm diameter and a silver dial accented with yellow. It includes a rubber strap, a tachymeter bezel, and sapphire glass. The watch is equipped with the Omega caliber 3330 movement, offering functions like hours, minutes, small seconds, date, and a chronograph with a column wheel and co-axial escapement

2. Vacheron Constantin Overseas Panda Ref. 5520V/210A-B686

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Panda Ref. 5520V-210A-B686
  • Production Year: 2018
  • Case Size: 42.5mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Silver
    • Bracelet: Stainless steel
    • Bezel: Stainless steel
  • Function: Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Date, Chronograph
  • Mechanism: Automatic, Calibre 5200, 52-Hour Power Reserve

About

This elegant and casual steel watch is designed for travelers, blending functionality with a touch of originality. Its openworked caseback with a 22K gold oscillating weight pays homage to the spirit of travel with a decoration inspired by the wind rose. The watch offers versatility through its interchangeable straps, allowing personalization to suit the owner’s preferences.

3. Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 26331ST.OO.1220ST.03

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Ref. 26331ST.OO.1220ST.03
  • Production Year: 2017
  • Case Size: 41mm
  • Materials
    • Dial: Silver
    • Bracelet: Stainless steel
    • Bezel: Stainless steel
  • Function: Seconds, Minutes, Hours, Date, Chronograph
  • Mechanism: Automatic, Caliber AP 2385, 55-Hour Power Reserve

About

The Royal Oak Chronograph Ref. 26331ST.OO.1220ST.03, introduced at SIHH 2017, marks the 20-year anniversary of the original Royal Oak Chronograph. This model continues the legacy with its all-stainless steel construction, embodying the distinctive elegance and sportiness of the Royal Oak line.

Who Should Buy the Rolex Panda?

Collectors

The Rolex Daytona Panda 116500LN is a prized addition for any watch collector. Known for its distinctive style and the prestige associated with the Daytona series, this model holds a special place due to its unique black-and-white dial configuration. Collectors particularly value this piece for its potential to appreciate its rarity and value over time.

Luxury Watch Enthusiasts

Luxury watch enthusiasts are drawn to the Rolex Daytona Panda for its exquisite craftsmanship and iconic design. The harmonious balance of functional complexity and aesthetic appeal makes it a standout model that resonates with those who deeply appreciate high-end timepieces.

Those Seeking a High-Value Piece

For individuals looking to invest in a watch that retains or increases value, the Rolex Daytona Panda 116500LN presents a compelling choice. Its enduring popularity and limited availability often result in a premium on resale markets, making it an attractive investment option.

Considerations for Potential Buyers

Potential buyers should weigh several factors when considering the Rolex Daytona Panda 116500LN. Availability can be limited, and the price point is significant, reflecting its status in the luxury watch market. It’s also important to consider the watch’s maintenance and care to preserve its functionality and aesthetics. Buyers should ensure authenticity through reputable dealers to avoid counterfeit pieces.

Final Word

When considering your investment, it’s important to note the lasting legacy and technological advancements that come with a Rolex Daytona. This watch is not just a timepiece; it’s a blend of style, history, and precision engineering. The Daytona’s iconic status in the watchmaking world cannot be overstated.

Key Takeaways

  • The Rolex Panda features a distinctive black and white color scheme. Inspired by racing cars and associated with Paul Newman, it boasts a rich history and striking design.
  • The Rolex Daytona Panda 116500LN has a significant market value, often selling for around $37,000 due to its rarity and discontinued status, especially in pristine condition.
  • The Rolex Daytona Panda is a great investment for watch enthusiasts, collectors, and investors due to its iconic design, racing heritage, and potential for value appreciation.

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