Rolex Introduces the Cosmograph Daytona “Le Mans” Ref. 126529LN

With a new movement and Paul Newman-inspired dial.
Le Mans

Having surprised everyone with the Perpetual 1908, “Bubbles”, and “Puzzles”, Rolex continues to do the unexpected. Launched to mark the 100th year of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Cosmograph Daytona ref. 126529 LN is a new model based on the latest-generation Daytona launched earlier this year.

But the Daytona “Le Mans” is not merely a facelifted chronograph but contains the cal. 4132. The new movement swaps out the conventional 12-hour counter at nine for a 24-hour register in a nod to the famous endurance race that Rolex has sponsored for over two decades. But perhaps most pertinent for enthusiasts are sub-dials, which are modelled on the vintage Daytona “Paul Newman”.

And while availability for the Daytona “Le Mans” will be limited, at least initially, it is a regular-production model that will be available at retailers and boutiques.

Initial thoughts

A new Daytona with a new movement is big news not because it’s majorly different – this is still very much a Daytona – but because Rolex rarely introduces new models outside of the annual watch fair in Switzerland. And when it does, the watch tends to be a surprise in more ways than one.

The new Daytona is actually new, largely because contains a new calibre, a simple variation of the current Daytona movement, but one that is mechanically different nonetheless. The movement reflects the Rolex approach to engineering that does nothing in half measures.

Even though the cal. 4132 inside the Daytona “Le Mans” only gains seven extra components over the cal. 4131 in the standard model, it is still a new movement, which is a lot more than the window dressing that most brands do for commemorative editions.

The cal. 4132

But the Daytona “Le Mans” is also significant for the “Paul Newman” elements in the design, an overt reference to a desirable and popular vintage Rolex model. The brand rarely makes such concessions to its past, so it will be interesting to see if this is a one-off or the start of a trend.

A new new Daytona

The Daytona “Le Mans” resembles the standard model for the most part, but is notable in several respects. Most obvious are the elements referring to Le Mans – the 24-hour register at nine since the race is a 24-hour affair as well as the red “100” on the tachymetre scale that marks the event’s centenary.

And then there are the sub-dials that are obviously modelled on the Daytona “Paul Newman”, which collectors of vintage Rolex will surely appreciate. The rest of the dial is typical modern Daytona with a dark grey, radially-brushed finish.

The case is 18k white gold, as is the bracelet, marking this out as the only Daytona with a Cerachrome bezel in white gold with a bracelet. Prior models of the current generation in white gold have only been available with a rubber strap.

Interestingly, while the case has the same 40 mm diameter as the standard Daytona, it is slightly thicker at 12.2 mm.

And the reason for the increased height is visible on the back. Inside is the ref. 4132, instead of the ref. 4131 in the standard model.

The fact that the cal. 4132 is visible through the back is itself notable, since the only other Daytona – or any other Rolex Oyster for that matter – with a display back is the Daytona in platinum.

The key feature of the cal. 4132 are the reducing gears that halve the rate of rotation of the gear train that drives the 24-hour counter. This makes one complete revolution every 12 hours in the cal. 4130, and now in the cal. 4132 it does the same in 24 hours.

A total of seven parts are needed for this, but no other changes are made to the rest of the movement – an elegant and concise solution.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona
Ref. 126529 LN

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 12.2 mm
Material: 18k white gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m

Movement: Cal. 4132
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph with 24-hour register
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Oyster bracelet

Limited edition: No
Available at Rolex authorised dealers
Price: CHF49,000

Prices exclude local taxes

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