Rolex Daytona 116518LN
Following on the heels of 2016's chronograph-category-killing new stainless Daytonas (ref. 116500LN), Rolex returned in 2017 with three new precious metal "pandas," meaning the dials are a light color and the sub dials black - think about a panda bear's face, white with black eyes and nose. All are standard 40mm Daytona cases, each in a different metal, each with a new reference number: 116515LN, 116518LN and 116519LN. The combination of the 116518LN's yellow gold case, sunburst "champagne-colour" dial and glossy black Cerachrom ceramic bezel makes it the most old school of the three, and very cool. Complimenting that of course is black text at the 12, yellow and white gold enhanced sub dials and the red "Daytona" at the 6. Something completely different for the Daytona line is the new patented Rolex Oysterflex bracelet, which is as high-tech and thoroughly modern a piece of kit as you'll find anywhere. In Rolex's own words, "At its core lies a superelastic metal blade overmoulded with high-performance black elastomer." That should do it. Like all modern Daytonas the 116518LN is outfitted with the august caliber 4130 - an in-house, automatic, chronometer-rated, column-wheel chronograph movement - and Rolex's patented screw-down, Triplock crown so it's covered from all angles technologically-speaking. The hands are yellow gold and filled with blue glowing Chromalight lume, as are the glossy black baton hour markers, which will remind you in the dark that you're wearing a tool watch first and foremost. The yellow gold chronograph hand is tipped with a small arrowhead reminiscent of every Daytona before it. The panda dial on these watches are important because they're part of a design element common to all Daytona Cosmographs: sub dials that in some way contrast the dial. In this case a complicated scheme: the outer edge of the sub dials is yellow gold while the inner edge is white gold. The centers are black sunburst and the numeral tracks "snailed" with engraved concentric circles. In 1963 when the Cosmograph was brand new this might have seemed an odd design flourish but it was more utilitarian than fashionable. The Cosmograph was purposely designed for professional racing drivers to wear on-track to calculate speed and time laps during a race so at a glance contrasting dials were easier to read. Originally known only as the Cosmograph, the "Daytona" moniker found it's way to the dial in 1964 during the third year of Rolex's sponsorship of what is now known as the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race. If ever there was a sartorially-minded tool watch the Daytona is it. The 116518LN is a completely modern vintage(y)-minded piece that will set you apart from other Daytona owners and give you a little bounce in your step for being so sure of your look. It will become part of you.