Rolex Daytona 116503 Complete Guide & Review
It’s safe to say that the Rolex Daytona is one of the most iconic and popular watches ever created. With a long and rich history, Rolex has updated and revised the Daytona model many times and consistently released new models and variations.
Amongst all of the different Daytona references that Rolex has released over the years, the 116503 is one of the most recent. Since its release in 2016, this two-tone Rolex chronograph has captured the hearts of many with its sleek design, high-quality materials, and exceptional functionality.
The Daytona 116503 is a two-tone version of the classic Daytona, meaning it is finished in yellow gold and steel. With its addition of gold elements, it adds a luxurious and elegant touch to the otherwise mostly sporty Daytona design.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the Rolex Daytona 116503, including its history and backstory, case, dial, movement, and bracelet & clasp. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a first-time buyer, this review will provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about this iconic timepiece.
Background and history
Rolex is a brand that needs no introduction. Established in 1905 in London, the Swiss luxury watchmaker has become synonymous with quality, precision, and durability. Rolex is known for its iconic timepieces, which have graced the wrists of many influential people throughout history.
The Daytona line was first introduced in 1963 and was designed to meet the needs of professional racing drivers. The original Daytona quickly became a cult classic and is now one of the most sought-after watches in the world. Over the years, Rolex has continued to innovate and improve the Daytona, resulting in the exceptional watch we know today.
The Daytona 116503 was released in 2016 and is the successor of the reference 116523 which was launched in the year 2000.
To get a better understanding of where the Daytona 116503 is in the history of Daytona, we have summarized the different two-tone Daytona references and their production years below:
Timeline of two-tone Daytona models:
- 16523: Produced between 1988 and 2000, the first two-tone Daytona
- 116523: Produced between 2000 and 2016 – the first two-tone Daytona with an in-house movement.
- 116503: Launched 2016
Whilst the Daytona was launched in 1963, the first Daytona made in a combination of gold and steel was launched many years after, in 1988. It was around this time that two-tone became more popular and Rolex began doubling down on this metal combination. Prior to this, the Daytona had only been made in steel or solid gold.
The 116523 and 116503 are very similar in design overall. From a technical standpoint, they are identical. They have the same movement, caliber 4130, the same water resistance, and exactly the same case. The key difference is the bezel which was redesigned for the 116503 with slightly more sporty engraved markers for the tachymeter scale. Moreover, the bracelet was upgraded to Rolex’s new generation and improved clasp. Below is the first-generation two-tone Daytona, reference 16523.
The Rolex Daytona 116503 is crafted from 904L stainless steel and 18k yellow gold. This blend of materials is also known as Rolesor. This combination of materials gives the watch an elegant yet sporty look that has become synonymous with the Daytona collection. It takes the sporty look of the Daytona and makes it slightly more luxurious and elegant. The watch features a 40mm Oyster case that is characteristic of the collection and is renowned for its robustness and durability. The Oyster case is equipped with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal that protects the dial from scratches and nicks.
The Daytona 116503 has a solid case back that is screwed down using a special tool to ensure water resistance of up to 100 meters or 330 feet. This means that the watch can withstand splashes of water, rain, and even brief immersions in water, making it suitable for sports and outdoor activities. The screw-down Triplock winding crown with three sealed zones provides an extra layer of protection against water, dust, and dirt.
Like all modern Daytonas, the case is completely polished. Also, in recent years, Rolex has moved towards using ceramic ”Cerachrom” bezels for many of the Daytona models but the Daytona 116503 retains its metal bezel. One could perhaps argue that there wouldn’t be enough gold on the watch to be able to call it a ”two-tone” if the gold were to be removed.
In terms of size, the 40mm wears extremely well and is surprisingly small according to a lot of people who try it for the first time. But overall, the size has a nice balance and works for many wrists. The wearability and comfort of this watch are also supported by the flat case back which helps the watch sit slimmer on the wrist.
One of the most notable features of the Daytona 116503 is its bezel. The bezel is made from 18k yellow gold and features an updated design that is different from its predecessor, the Daytona ref. 116523. The new bezel features fatter fonts and triangular markings instead of circular ones. The Tachymeter scale is positioned in a curve around the bezel instead of perpendicular with the hour markers, as seen in reference 116523. The hash marks between the 60 to 100 graduations are underlined by a bold black line, adding a touch of elegance and contrast to the bezel. The bezel is unidirectional and can be used to measure average speeds over a given distance.
Overall, the case of the Daytona 116503 is a masterpiece of design and engineering. It is built to withstand the rigors of everyday wear and tear, while at the same time providing the wearer with an unmistakable sense of luxury and style.
The dial of the Rolex Daytona 116503 is a stunning example of the brand’s signature style, featuring a sporty and functional design with luxurious finishes. Like many of the Daytona models, the 116503 is available with several different dials, both with and without diamonds.
The 116503 is available with a total of 11 dials which gives plenty of options so that you can find a dial you like – from a classic and discreet black dial to a more special and extravagant mother-of-pearl dial with diamonds. The dials available for the 116503 are as follows:
- Champagne dial
- Black dial
- White dial
- Silver dial with champagne sub-seconds (not available when buying the watch new, but possible to order for this model)
- Blue racing dial with Arabic numerals (not available when buying the watch new, but possible to order for this model)
- Champagne dial with diamond hour markers
- Black dial with diamond hour markers
- White dial with diamond hour markers
- Mother of pearl dial with diamond hour markers
- Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial with diamond hour markers
- Black dial with diamond hour markers and gold sub-dials
You can’t go wrong with either of these dials and it ultimately comes down to your own taste and preference which you choose. The black dial is the most classic and discreet but for those who want something more blingy, you have the option of having diamond hour markers.
The subdials at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock are used to track the chronograph function, with the small seconds hand located at 6 o’clock, the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, and the 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock. These subdials are surrounded by a thin gold ring that matches the hour markers and hands, creating a cohesive look.
One of the most distinctive features of the Daytona 116503’s dial is the bright red Daytona logo located just above the small seconds subdial. This iconic logo adds a pop of color to the otherwise muted color scheme of the dial and is a subtle nod to the watch’s racing heritage.
Regardless of the dial, you can trust that they are well-finished and made with great precision and attention to detail.
The Rolex Daytona 116503 is powered by the brand’s in-house Caliber 4130, a self-winding mechanical chronograph movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. First introduced in 2000, the Caliber 4130 remains one of the most reliable and accurate chronograph movements on the market today.
The movement operates at a frequency of 28,800 beats per hour (4Hz) and has a power reserve of approximately 72 hours. It features a vertical clutch mechanism and a column wheel, which work together to ensure the smooth operation of the chronograph functions. The vertical clutch engages the chronograph seconds hand with the rest of the movement, providing instant start and stop functions without affecting the accuracy of the timekeeping. The column wheel is responsible for coordinating the start, stop, and reset functions of the chronograph, making it more precise and reliable than other chronograph movements.
Another impressive feature of the Caliber 4130 is its Parachrom hairspring, which is made of a highly resistant and anti-magnetic alloy, providing the movement with excellent resistance to shocks and temperature variations. The hairspring also helps maintain the movement’s precision over time, even in the face of extreme conditions.
Like all Rolex movements, the Caliber 4130 has undergone the brand’s rigorous testing and certification process, earning the coveted COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute) certification as well as Rolex’s own strict testing which means a Superlative Chronometer certification. But Rolex takes it a step further by subjecting the movement to additional testing in-house, ensuring that it meets the brand’s strict standards for accuracy, reliability, and durability.
Overall, the Caliber 4130 is a standout feature of the Rolex Daytona 116503, providing it with the performance and precision that has made the Daytona one of the most iconic and desirable watches in the world.
Bracelet & Clasp
The Rolex Daytona 116503 comes with a three-piece link Oyster bracelet, which is a signature feature of Rolex sports watches. The bracelet is made of a combination of steel and 18K yellow gold, perfectly matching the case material. The bracelet is characterized by its solid flat links that are highly polished, giving it a luxurious appearance. The flat links also provide a comfortable fit on the wrist. For the 116503, the Oyster bracelet has gold polished center links and brushed steel outer links, providing a balance between sportiness and luxuriousness.
The folding Oysterlock safety clasp is another hallmark feature of Rolex sports watches. The clasp features a double-locking mechanism, which ensures that the watch remains securely fastened to the wrist. The clasp is also equipped with the Easylink comfort extension system, allowing the wearer to adjust the bracelet length by up to 5mm without the use of any tools.
Overall, the bracelet and clasp of the Daytona 116503 are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing, providing a perfect complement to the rest of the watch. The attention to detail and high-quality materials used in the bracelet and clasp demonstrate Rolex’s commitment to creating a timepiece that not only performs flawlessly but also looks and feels great on the wrist.
Wearability & Comfort
The Rolex Daytona 116503 is an incredibly comfortable watch to wear, thanks to its well-proportioned 40mm case and solid Oyster bracelet. Thanks to the relatively short lugs (with a lug-to-lug of 46.6mm) and a thickness of 12.5 mm, the watch wears quite small and slim on the wrist, allowing for great comfort for many wrist sizes.
The watch is designed to fit comfortably on any wrist, and the adjustable Easylink system allows for a quick and easy extension of the bracelet by up to 5mm, ensuring that it can be worn comfortably by any wearer.
The three-piece link Oyster bracelet is made from high-quality 904L stainless steel, which is incredibly durable and resistant to corrosion. The links are solid and flat, giving the bracelet a smooth and comfortable feel on the wrist. The folding Oysterlock safety clasp is easy to operate and features Rolex’s patented Easylink system, which allows the wearer to adjust the bracelet length without the use of tools.
With a weight of about 156.4 Grams, the watch is relatively light but at the same time has more heft to it than the steel counterparts thanks to the addition of the gold components.
Overall, the Rolex Daytona 116503 is an incredibly comfortable watch to wear, thanks to its well-proportioned case and solid Oyster bracelet. The watch is designed to fit comfortably on any wrist, and the adjustable Easylink system ensures that it can be worn comfortably by any wearer. The bracelet is solid and comfortable, and the clasp is secure and easy to operate, providing a reassuring feeling of quality and durability.
- Diameter: 40mm
- Thickness: 12.5mm
- Lug-to-lug: 46.6mm
- Movement: caliber 4130 (in-house)
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Water resistance: 100m/330 feet
- Bracelet: two-tone Oyster bracelet ref 78593 with Oysterlock Folding clasp and Easylink extension system.
In conclusion, the Rolex Daytona 116503 is an exceptional timepiece that embodies the brand’s commitment to quality, craftsmanship, and precision. This two-tone chronograph is a perfect blend of style and functionality, making it a versatile watch that can be worn on various occasions.
Its iconic design, featuring the updated bezel and the engraved rehaut, adds to its appeal, making it a coveted collector’s item.
The Oyster case, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, and water resistance up to 100 meters/330 feet make this watch a reliable and robust timepiece. The self-winding Calibre 4130 movement ensures accuracy, precision, and reliability, while the three-piece link Oyster bracelet, complete with a folding Oysterlock clasp, guarantees a comfortable fit and secure grip.
Overall, the Rolex Daytona 116503 is a watch that’s built to last and designed to impress. It’s a worthy addition to any collection and an investment that’s sure to appreciate in value over time. If you’re in the market for a high-end chronograph that combines style, functionality, and durability, the Rolex Daytona 116503 is definitely worth considering.