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When Malcolm Campbell (1885-1948) broke the speed record of 445 km/h on the Daytona Beach circuit in 1935, it was with a Rolex on his wrist. In 1959, the “Daytona International Speedway” was born, a 2.500 mi (4.023 km) long circuit that hosts the most famous car races such as the “Daytona 500” or the “Rolex 24 At Daytona”, the American equivalent of the “24 Heures” of Le Mans, of which the Rolex “Daytona” is also the official watch. Thanks to Hans Wildrof marketing genius, the Rolex wristwatch was thus consecrated as THE watch of the car racers.
The reference 6239 is the first reference of the Daytona collection. Initially called “Le Mans” as an homage to the eponymous French car race, of 24 Hours of Le Mans (24 Heures du Mans); the name “Daytona” appeared in 1965 written on the dial of this chronograph. Introduced in 1963, it was produced until 1969, mainly in stainless steel. Experts estimated that Rolex made approximately 13,700 pieces in stainless steel.
The Rolex Daytona with exotic dial, known as the "Paul Newman" dial, is one of the most sought-after vintage chronographs among collectors. According to the specialists, although it has never been confirmed, for every one “exotic” dial, roughly 24 “Daytona” dials were produced, and many of those “exotic” dials are no longer still in existence today. They are named “Paul Newman” after the famous eponymous Hollywood actor who use to wear a Rolex “Daytona” Ref. 6239 with an “exotic” dial. Thanks to the square hour index on the counters, combined to the color contrast and the Arabic numeral markers inscribed more boldly, these dials were intended to be more visible to the car racers.