Rolex Rainbow Daytona Buyer’s Guide in 2024

Rolex Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW and 116599RBOW Lifestyle Photo

Given that they were never formally part of Rolex’s catalog, yet still became some of the brand’s most famous and collectible timepieces, the Rolex Rainbow Daytona occupies a somewhat mythical role within the world of watches. Additionally, the “Rainbow Daytona” nickname doesn’t just apply to one single model, but rather three distinct references from the third generation of the Daytona, which are all crafted from different types of 18k gold and can be found with three different styles of dials and fitted with two different kinds of bracelets. While it has really only been within the last handful of years that the Rainbow Daytona has become a mainstream status symbol and horological icon, the history of this multi-colored chronograph spans over a decade, starting with the very first appearance of a rainbow gem-set bezel on a Rolex watch in 2012 and lasting until this third generation of the Daytona was discontinued entirely in 2023.

About the Rolex Rainbow Daytona

Rolex Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW Lifestyle Photo

While the Rolex Rainbow Daytona is an incredibly famous and recognizable luxury timepiece, none of the three different references that go by the “Rainbow Daytona” nickname were ever actually part of Rolex’s official publicly-available lineup. Although the Rainbow Daytona watches are very much genuine Rolex timepieces that originally left the factory in their rainbow gem-set configurations, they were all created as “off catalog” models, which is the colloquial term for the handful of ultra-exclusive watches that Rolex produces each year that are only available to its highest level of VIP customers and never formally offered for sale to the general public or even listed on Rolex’s website.

The Rolex Rainbow Daytona series consists of three references that were produced between 2012 and 2023; however, it’s important to note that these watches were created in incredibly small numbers and not all of the different references were available during this period of time. The first duo of Rainbow Daytona models that appeared in 2012 were the yellow gold ref. 116598RBOW and white gold ref. 116599RBOW, and while they were only produced for a handful of years and enjoyed a strong cult following within the collecting community, it was really the appearance of the Everose gold version in 2018 that brought the Rainbow Daytona into the spotlight and made all versions of this colorful gem-set chronograph must-have items for everyone from serious watch collectors to professional athletes and A-list celebrities.

As the three Rolex Rainbow Daytona watches are based upon the third generation of the brand’s chronograph, they all feature 40mm cases with sapphire crystals, and they are furnished with screw-down crowns, chronograph pushers, and casebacks, which help provide them with the same 100 meters of water resistance that exists among the standard-production Rolex Daytona lineup. Similarly, just like the rest of the third generation, the trio of Rainbow Daytona watches are all powered by the brand’s in-house Caliber 4130 automatic chronograph movement, which means that from a functional perspective, these colorful gem-set models are just like any of the other watches from this third generation of the Rolex Daytona.

However, when it comes to their appearances, the Rolex Rainbow Daytona models are truly unlike any other versions of the brand’s famous chronograph. Unlike the standard-production 18k gold Daytona watches from this same generation, the three Rainbow Daytona models all feature cases with 56 brilliant-cut diamonds set into their lugs and crown guards, and they also all showcase rainbow gem-set bezels, which have 36 trapeze-cut sapphires that create a multi-colored gradient effect around the periphery of their dials. From here, the Rolex Rainbow Daytona series starts to get a bit more diverse, and while the yellow gold ref. 116598RBOW and white gold ref. 116599RBOW were both originally only available in a single configuration, they can now be found with three different styles of dials, while the Everose gold ref. 116595RBOW has two different types of dials, along with two different types of bracelets.

Rainbow Daytona Key Features

  • Model Name: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona
  • Reference Numbers: 116598RBOW, 116599RBOW, 116595RBOW
  • Year of Introduction: 2012 (116598RBOW and 116599RBOW); 2018 (116595RBOW)
  • Popular Nicknames: “Rainbow Daytona”
  • Materials: Yellow gold (116598RBOW); White gold (116599RBOW); Everose gold (116595RBOW)
  • Case Size: 40mm
  • Functionality: Hours, minutes, seconds, 12-hour chronograph
  • Bezel: Rainbow-colored sapphires
  • Dials: Black w/ diamond indexes; Black w/ rainbow sapphire indexes; Diamond-Paved w/ rainbow sapphire indexes
  • Hands: 18k Gold (baton-shaped)
  • Crown: Triplock (screw-down)
  • Pushers: Screw-down
  • Crystal: Sapphire (flat)
  • Movement: Rolex Caliber 4130 (automatic winding w/ 72-hour power reserve)
  • Notable Details: Diamond-set lugs and crown guards
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters / 330 feet
  • Bracelet: Oyster bracelet (available with optional diamond-set center links)

Rolex Rainbow Daytona Dial Variations

Rolex Rainbow Daytona 116599RBOW White Gold Wrist Photo

When the Rolex Rainbow Daytona originally made an appearance in 2012 in the form of the yellow gold ref. 116598RBOW and white gold ref. 116599RBOW, both models were fitted with the same style of dial, and this remained the only Rainbow Daytona dial until the 2018 launch of the Everose gold ref. 116595RBOW. This original style of dial features a gloss black lacquer surface with diamond-set hour markers, applied Arabic minute numerals at the cardinal points, and contrasting crystallized gold sub-dials in the same color of gold to match the case of the watch. Additionally, the chronograph hands fitted to the Rainbow Daytona models with these dials are also bright red, which further adds to their bright and colorful appearance.

When Rolex released the Everose gold version of the Rainbow Daytona in 2018, the brand introduced a new style of dial that took the rainbow theme of the watch to an entirely new level. Just like the original Rainbow Daytona dials, the updated style features a gloss black lacquer surface with crystallized gold registers, although the trio of smaller chronograph hands are now finished black to offer superior contrast and a more refined overall appearance. However, the single most notable update to accompany this new version of the Rainbow Daytona dial is that rather than having diamond-set hour markers with small Arabic numerals at the cardinal points, all of the indexes now appear as baguette-cut sapphires that mirror the rainbow gradient of colors that appear along the bezel. Additionally, when Rolex quietly re-launched the yellow gold and white gold Rainbow Daytona models as part of its off-catalog offerings for 2022, the new watches appeared with this updated style of dial.

Along with the updated style of black lacquer dial that first appeared on the Everose gold Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW in 2018, Rolex also created a second dial for this model, which offered an even more luxurious appearance. Just like the updated Rainbow Daytona dial, this version also features crystallized gold sub-dials and rainbow-colored sapphires for its hour markers. However, instead of having a back lacquer surface, the solid gold dial is entirely paved with 321 diamonds, and rather than having the usual text on its surface, the only word that appears on it is the “Rolex” name that sits within a small unadorned section below the 12 o’clock marker. Additionally, just like the updated style of black lacquer dial, when Rolex brought back the yellow gold and white gold Rainbow Daytona models in 2022, both watches were also available with this luxurious style of diamond-paved dial, and since the updated dials for the yellow gold and white gold models were only offered for a single year, they rank among the most rare and collectible versions of the Rainbow Daytona.

Rolex Rainbow Daytona Bracelet Variations

Rolex Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW Lifestyle Photo

The Everose gold Rainbow Daytona ref. 116595RBOW represents a major milestone for the series, as its release not only marks the point when multiple different dials first appeared, but also when Rolex introduced a gem-set bracelet to the Rainbow Daytona. The standard bracelet option for all of the Rainbow Daytona models is a solid 18k gold Oyster bracelet that is crafted from the same type of gold to match their respective cases, and all three of the Rainbow Daytona models can be found with this style of bracelet. While it does represent a fairly luxurious offering, the standard bracelet is the same as what you will find fitted to any other solid gold Daytona models that were produced during the same era as their rainbow counterparts.

With that in mind, when Rolex released the Everose gold Rainbow Daytona ref. 116595RBOW, the model was also offered with the option of an ultra-premium solid gold Oyster bracelet that features diamond-paved center links and even a matching diamond-paved strip running through the clasp. While a diamond-set bracelet was never offered as an option for the Rainbow Daytona when the model first appeared in 2012, the diamond-paved dial introduced alongside the Everose gold edition took the watch in a noticeably more iced-out direction, and the examples that are fitted with diamond-paved dials and diamond-set bracelets represent the most luxurious version of the Rolex Rainbow Daytona that exist.

Rolex Rainbow Daytona Models

While the history of the Rolex Rainbow Daytona spans over a decade, all three models were actually only available for a handful of years. Additionally, since Rolex brought back the yellow and white gold models during the final year that this third generation was in production, a surprising amount of diversity exists among what is essentially just three distinct Rainbow Daytona references.

Rainbow Daytona 116598RBOW (Yellow Gold)

116598RBOW Yellow Gold Rainbow Daytona

The Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116598RBOW is the yellow gold version of the Rainbow Daytona that first appeared in 2012 and introduced the world to this gem-set gradient bezel concept. While it was only available for a few years following its initial launch, Rolex brought back the yellow gold Rainbow Daytona 116598RBOW in 2022 and made it available with the two updated styles of dials that originally debuted on the Everose gold version. Consequently, you will find yellow gold Rainbow Daytona watches with all three types of dials, although the examples fitted with the original style of dial significantly outnumber their more modern counterparts since the updated dials were only available for a single year before this third generation of Daytona watches was discontinued entirely in 2023.

Rainbow Daytona 116599RBOW (White Gold)

116599RBOW White Gold Rainbow Daytona

Launched alongside its yellow gold sibling in 2012, the Rolex Daytona ref. 116599RBOW is the 18k white gold version of the Rainbow Daytona, and it is also characterized by the same slightly fragmented period of availability. Just like its yellow gold counterpart, the white gold Rainbow Daytona 116599RBOW was only available for a handful of years following its initial launch in 2012, although it was brought back in 2022 for one final year before this third generation of the Daytona was discontinued entirely in 2023. Just like the yellow gold model, the white gold Rainbow Daytona can be found with all three styles of dials; however, since the examples with rainbow sapphire hour markers were only available for a single year, they are significantly more rare than the earlier versions of this model that are fitted with the original type of dial.

Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW (Everose Gold)

Rolex Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW Rose Gold Pave Dial

Crafted from the brand’s proprietary 18k rose gold alloy, the Rolex Daytona ref. 116595RBOW is the Everose version of the Rainbow Daytona that was first announced in 2018 and completely changed the landscape of this rainbow-colored series of timepieces by introducing an updated style of dial and the option of multiple different configurations. Unlike the yellow gold and white gold models, the Everose gold Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW can only be found with the two contemporary types of dials that have matching rainbow-colored sapphire hour markers, although examples can be found with the ultra-luxurious version of the Oyster bracelet that features diamond-set center links and a diamond-set clasp. Additionally, while the Everose Rainbow Daytona introduced the updated dial designs that would later appear on the yellow and white gold models, the trio were never offered alongside each other, and the Everose gold version was discontinued in 2022 to make room for the return of its two siblings.

Rolex Rainbow Daytona Price Information

 

Rolex Rainbow Daytona 116595RBOW Rose Gold Wrist Photo

Many Rolex watches command premiums above their retail prices on the secondary market, and this is especially true for the Daytona collection and the various off-catalog models that are only accessible to Rolex’s top VIP customers. Even before the Rainbow Daytona reached mainstream awareness and the stratospheric levels of fame that accompany it today, it was always a highly prized item among serious collectors, and examples of the original Rainbow Daytona models would frequently trade hands for values that were multiple times greater than what their owners originally paid for them.

As a point of reference, back when Rolex first released the Everose gold version of the Rainbow Daytona in 2018, the standard model without a diamond-paved dial or diamond-set bracelet was accompanied by an official retail price of $96,900 USD. With that in mind, when it comes to the open-market price for this particular model, the Everose gold Rainbow Daytona has never been priced at less than six-figures. Shortly after its launch, any available examples of the model were immediately trading hands for values that were several times higher than the official retail price, and this same timepiece is now currently worth somewhere in the neighborhood of half a million dollars (as of December 2023).

These days, the least expensive Rainbow Daytona watches are the yellow and white gold models that are fitted with the older style of dial with diamond-set hour markers, although adding one of these watches to your collection will still set you back a minimum of several hundred thousand dollars. Meanwhile the absolute most expensive versions of the Rolex Rainbow Daytona are the examples fitted with diamond-paved dials and diamond-set bracelets, which can often be listed at values that fall north of the seven-figure price point. While they were never actually part of Rolex’s standard catalog and never even appeared on the brand’s official website, arguably no model has captured the hearts and imaginations of collectors more than the Rainbow Daytona, and all three models rank among the most desirable modern Rolex watches in the world.

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