Rolex Daytona 116508 Collector’s Guide

Rolex Daytona 116508 Collector’s Guide

Although it took the Rolex Daytona a fairly long time to find success with the general public, it has ultimately become one of the most famous and collectible luxury timepieces in the entire world. When it comes to the list of the most expensive Rolex watches ever sold, the Cosmograph Daytona appears more than any other model, and both modern and vintage examples are highly sought after by today’s collectors, with certain rare examples routinely trading hands for six-figure and even seven-figure prices. While the stainless steel version often serves as the poster child for the collection, Rolex produces the Daytona in a wide range of materials and configurations, and the Rolex Daytona 116508 is the full yellow gold model from the previous generation that was one of the brand’s most popular models before it was recently discontinued earlier this year in 2023. 

With that in mind, while the standard stainless steel Daytona is exclusively produced with either a black or white dial, the yellow gold Rolex Daytona reference 116508 showcased significantly more colors throughout the years of its production, along with different styles of hour markers and even dials that are made from mother of pearl or meteorite. Additionally, although all Daytona 116508 watches are largely identical in terms of their materials and mechanics, the type of dial fitted to the watch can have an enormous impact on its resale value, and it is not uncommon to see certain examples of the ref. 116508 selling for values that are nearly three times the price of their otherwise identical siblings. Consequently, adding a Rolex Daytona 116508 to your collection isn’t always a straightforward process, so here is everything that you need to know about this recently discontinued fan-favorite chronograph.

About the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116508

Rolex Daytona 116508 Champagne Dial

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona reference 116508 is the full 18k yellow gold model from the previous generation that is fitted with a gold tachymeter bezel and a matching solid gold Oyster bracelet. The reference 116508 was originally released in 2016 as an updated version of the reference 116528, which was the first yellow gold Daytona to use Rolex’s in-house Caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement. In addition to a more robust Oysterlock clasp design that includes Rolex’s Easylink extension system, the Daytona 116508 also features an updated bezel with more prominent markings for its tachymeter scale, along with Chromalight accents on its hands and hour markers, which is Rolex’s proprietary luminous material that emits a blue-colored glow in the dark.

Just like other Daytona models from this generation, the reference 116508 features a 40mm case, flat sapphire crystal, screw-down chronograph pushers, and 100 meters of water resistance. Similarly, the reference 116508 is also powered by the Rolex Cal. 4130 automatic chronograph movement, which operates with a column wheel and a vertical clutch, while running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 72 hours. However, unlike the other yellow gold Daytona model from this same generation that is fitted with a black ceramic bezel and a matching black rubber Oysterflex bracelet, the Rolex Daytona 116508 features a full 18k gold Oyster bracelet, along with an engraved tachymeter bezel that is also crafted from solid yellow gold to match the rest of its external components.

Production of the Daytona 116508 lasted from 2016 until 2023, when Rolex discontinued all of the existing models within the Daytona collection and replaced them with an updated generation that uses the brand’s Cal. 4131 movement. Along with a new movement and revised dial proportions, the current generation of the Rolex Daytona also features a redesigned case with thicker and more angular lugs, which makes the ref. 116508 the last yellow gold Daytona to adhere to the collection’s classic case profile, which was a staple in Rolex’s collection ever since the very first self-winding Cosmograph Daytona models appeared in the late 1980s. 

Rolex Daytona 116508 Key Features

  • Reference Number: 116508
  • Years of Production: 2016 to 2023
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Materials: 18k yellow gold
  • Functionality: Time w/ running seconds, 12-hour chronograph, tachymeter scale
  • Bezel: 18k yellow gold w/ engraved tachymeter markings
  • Dials: Gloss Black, Matte Black (“Paul Newman” style), Gloss White, Champagne, Champagne w/ Black Registers, Champagne (“Paul Newman” style), Blue, Green, Mother of Pearl, Black Mother of Pearl, or Meteorite 
  • Hour markers: Luminous indexes, Arabic numerals, or Diamonds 
  • Luminous Material: Chromalight
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Crown: Triplock (screw-down)
  • Movement: Rolex Caliber 4130 (automatic mechanical chronograph)
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters (330 feet)
  • Bracelet: Oyster bracelet with Oysterlock clasp and Easylink extension system 

Daytona 116508 Dial Variations 

Rolex Daytona 116508 Champagne Dial

Aside from the updated bezel and clasp, arguably the most distinct feature of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116508 is the selection of dials that were available for this particular model. All of the classic dial colors such as black, white, and champagne can be found among the various different reference 116508 watches, along with the option of luminous indexes or diamond-set hour markers for all of the classic dial options. Additionally, some of the more sporty and unusual dials were also carried over from the previous series, such as the black and champagne “Paul Newman” style dials that have bright red accents with sub-dials that are fully finished in contrasting colors, along with the dark blue dial with red accents and Arabic numeral hour markers that can also be found among the previous generation of the Cosmograph Daytona. 

Mother of pearl dials with diamond-set hour markers also were offered for the Rolex Daytona 116508, and while the standard mother of pearl dials featured thin gold frames for their sub-dials, the black mother of pearl variants were furnished with contrasting registers in crystalized gold. However, the true standout dials for the Rolex Daytona 116508 were a metallic green dial with bright red highlights that wasn’t available on any other version of the Daytona, along with a meteorite dial that appeared in 2021 and was only offered for two short years before the ref. 116508 was discontinued entirely in 2023. The unusual green dial marked the first time that Rolex had used its own company color on its famous racing chronograph, and despite the overwhelming popularity of the green Daytona, this dial option was not carried over onto the current generation when Rolex discontinued the reference 116508 earlier this year.

Rolex Daytona 116508 Pricing Information

Rolex Daytona 116508 Champagne Dial

Since the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116508 is no longer in production, it is now exclusively available on the secondary market, and you won’t find this particular reference for sale at any Rolex boutiques or authorized retailers. Additionally, all reference 116508 watches are crafted from 18k yellow gold, and they also all have matching solid gold bezels and Oyster bracelets, which means that the only real differences between the various examples of the ref. 116508 are their dials. That said, you will frequently see some Daytona 116508 watches selling for anywhere between two and three times the price of their otherwise identical counterparts. 

The least expensive Rolex Daytona 116508 watches are the ones fitted with classic black, white, or champagne colored dials, and prices for these more common variants start out at just under $50,000 USD (as of 2023). Naturally, those with diamond-set hour markers typically cost a small premium, although the green dial Daytona can often sell for nearly twice the price of its siblings. Despite the fact that the only difference is the dial, it is not uncommon to see green Daytona watches selling for anywhere between $80,000 USD and $90,000 USD, while some in mint condition with their original stickers can fetch north of six figures. With that in mind, the green dial Daytona isn’t even the most expensive version of the reference 116508, as that title is held by the meteorite dial Daytona, which is the rarest dial variation within the collection and is consistently priced anywhere between $110,000 USD and $135,00 USD.

Although all Rolex Daytona ref. 116508 watches were originally accompanied by official retail prices that were below the $50k mark when they were still in production, virtually all examples of the model are now worth more than what their owners originally paid for them. With than in mind, while some Daytona 116508 watches are worth just several thousand dollars above their original retail prices, others like the green dial and meteorite dial models can be worth more than twice the price of their otherwise identical siblings, and this means that the extra premiums associated with these dials are worth more than the open-market price of an entire Daytona watch in full 18k yellow gold. That said, this type of massive price delta between examples of the same reference is hardly anything unusual for the Rolex Daytona collection, and if you look at vintage examples of the Cosmograph Daytona, rare dial variations such as the legendary Paul Newman dial can be worth additional premiums that run well into the six-figure territory.

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