These colourful Rolex “Beach” Daytonas used to be “cheap fun”. You can now bid on a set of four on Loupe This and they may represent valueAndrew McUtchen
There’s a lot more to the Rolex Daytona than Paul Newman. While famed for its long history as one of motorsports’ most iconic timepieces, the Daytona has also found some expressive and fun iterations over the years and the “Beach Daytona” is a classic example. Launched in 2001 and produced until 2005, this short-lived family of four variants resided within the 116519 reference and features a yellow, blue, green, and pink variant, each mounted to a leather strap that matches the colour of the dial for a playful monochromatic aesthetic. On Loupe This a full set is currently attracting bids, so I spoke to the auction site’s founders Eric Ku and Justin Gruenberg to get the lowdown on these playful and perky pieces.
ANDREW MCUTCHEN: Australia is heading into what is hopefully a cheerful, bright, coloUrful summer and these Beach Daytonas sum up that feel-good vibe. So tell me a little bit about them.
ERIC KU: These watches came out in 2001. They used to be what I’d categorise as “cheap and fun”, because they were 25 grand or under, now they’re maybe triple that, but they’re one of those watches that always brings a smile to your face. We’re selling them all as separate lots, so it’s doubtful that they’ll go to one home, but at the same time, when you see them all together, it’s a fun thing. Are they super rare? No, not really. They come up a lot, but it’s always fun when they come up. And I think nowadays with everything being so expensive, being able to bid on these at no-reserve is a unique opportunity.
JUSTIN GRUENBERG: They all have their original cert too. When they weren’t collectible, a lot of people didn’t keep the certs, but now to have four that have the original warranty papers is pretty cool.
AM: And they’re all from the same consignor?
EK: Yeah. It was one guy that just hoarded them and was so pedantic that even the straps and everything are almost brand new. So the inevitable question probably will be: why don’t they have the boxes? The truth is that these watches didn’t always come with matching coloured boxes. I think some of the early ones did, but then later on – according to several friends who are authorised dealers – they were just sold in normal boxes. When these were much cheaper, I don’t think people really cared about the boxes that much. But nowadays, a box for one of these in those colours, it could be 10 grand – it’s pretty ridiculous.
AM: So you’re selling them without boxes? And are these literally new as in stickered and unworn?
EK: They’ve definitely been worn, but they’ve been carefully and lightly worn. On these watches because gold is soft, the most important thing that I always look at is the enamel in the bezel. And on these, the bezels are still really black and they’re not rounded and crappy looking, so they’re pretty nice. They’re not new by any means, but they’re reasonably nice.
AM: Was there a temptation to put them up as a set?
JG: We were going back and forth. But for this we thought if somebody has the opportunity, they can buy all four obviously. But I would say, most likely, they’re going to go to four different parties, but you never know. I think it’s pretty cool to have the whole group.
EK: I would’ve liked to put them up as a set, but I think the consignor felt that it was easier or better for him to maximise if they were just done in separate lots.
AM: How would you describe these four colours, and how do they present in real life? Do they really pop on the wrist?
JG: Definitely. I really like the blue one. But I think that each one has their own quality that is worth collecting.
AM: What about you, Eric? Which would you pick?
EK: I like the green one. I like the colour green and that one is a hard stone dial, which I think makes it interesting. The pink and the yellow are just mother of pearl, the green dial’s stone and I believe the blue one is just an enamel colour. So I just think the green is a little special.
I’d also point out also that the pink, although it looks feminine, I’ve seen plenty of guys wear it, sometimes even on the pink strap. So they’re pretty unisex and definitely a bold fashion statement.
AM: I think the OP this year has changed everything with pink, hasn’t it? It’s become a very acceptable colour for any dude. But Eric as a big Rolex guy we’ve always talked about the Daytona as being a bit of a playground for Rolex – a place where a lot of the rules for other collections don’t apply.
EK: Yeah. And for the longest time they were what I’d consider “cheap fun”. And they’re still fun, they’re just not very cheap anymore. But I think the renewed interest comes from – look I don’t really keep a pulse on the modern, new market – but silly things like apparently the 40mm Day-Date in rose gold with that olive green dial, those things trade at, I think, almost double retail. The yellow gold Daytona with the green dial now is also more than double retail too.
JG: I think it was the Oyster Perpetuals that sparked renewed interest.
AM: What size are these?
EK: These are the normal Daytona size, so I guess 40mm.
AM: And we’ve seen people like Sophia Vergara wearing Daytonas and all kinds of crazy variants of Daytona, so they’re properly unisex, aren’t they?
EK: Yeah. And the straps are really part of the look, but it looks really different when you change it out. A friend we have in common, Ross Povey, a Tudor collector, he has a blue Beach Daytona that he wears on tan strap, and obviously it looks a bit more masculine and maybe a little easier to wear daily, but it still has that richness and the colour from the dial.
AM: What are your top, quirky Daytonas to look out for, because obviously the base collections, in some ways, they’re just insanely inflated right now. So what are the quirky Daytonas that stand out to you and is there any value out there in the non-traditional Daytonas?
EK: It’s very hard to spot things that you think might be undervalued in this marketplace. But the Rolex movement Daytonas with that meteorite dial – I don’t really love that meteorite look, but that is another one, which again, was once pretty cheap. And you look at the new ones, I guess they just came out this year, the ceramic bezel ones with those meteorite dials, they’re trading at almost $100,000 dollars right now. The original ones for the longest time were $18,000 – $20,0000 and they’re probably much more now, but I still think they’re fairly, reasonably priced. That meteorite dial adds a little bit of flair. So if you happen to like it, I think those are probably good things to be buying right now.
AM: Justin, you got a quirky Daytona you got a secret crush on?
JG: I typically don’t love strapped Daytonas, but I do like the white-gold Zenith Daytona that, I think, was only in production for a year or a year and a half, so that’s a pretty rare watch that I’ve started to appreciate a little bit of more. Because when something’s only made for a year by Rolex, that’s pretty cool. I have one of those that I’ve kept that has a mother of pearl dial, it’s simple, but pretty rare.