When watch collectors around the world think of the Rolex Daytona, there’s only two possible images that come to mind – the stainless steel Rolex Daytona white dial or the stainless steel Rolex Daytona black dial. The point of differentiation comes down to personal preference for the light or the dark side of the Rolex Daytona, and it has been this way throughout history, prevailing without fail to the newest Daytona, reference 116500. Both watches are in very high demand and ceaselessly command remarkable premiums on the secondary market, selling way above their retail price.
In this White Dial vs Black Dial Rolex Daytona Comparison, we will be discussing the following:
- History of the Rolex Daytona
- Basics of the stainless steel Daytona reference 116500
- How the black and white dial Rolex Daytona differ in style
- White dial vs black dial market price & value
- Where you can buy a white dial and black dial Rolex Daytona 116500
HISTORY OF THE ROLEX DAYTONA
As you know, the Rolex Daytona is a chronograph watch designed to meet the needs of race car drivers by measuring elapsed time and calculating average speed.
The first-ever Rolex chronograph dates back to 1955. However, the history of the Daytona didn’t begin until 1963, with reference 6239. The Rolex 6239 was the first chronograph with a tachymeter on the bezel rather than the dial. This is when the rivalry of the black vs white dial Daytona commenced. The white dial Daytona 6239 was the Panda dial, which now sells for millions of dollars if in good condition.
In the early 1960s, the watches were just called the Rolex Cosmograph. Although it did already have the nickname “Daytona”.
How the Rolex Daytona got its name
The name Daytona was taken from the famous racecourse in Florida – the Daytona International Speedway. Rolex first served as their official timekeeper in 1962, hence the name tribute for this collection, which officially began in 1964 when Rolex added the Daytona name to the dial. The position of the Daytona on the dial was just below the name ‘Cosmograph’. In 1967, Rolex repositioned the Daytona lettering, curving it above the bottom of the 6 o’clock subdial, where we still enjoy it to this day.
The Rolex Daytona was NOT an instant hit
Now, for those of you who are not familiar with the history of the Daytona, it might come as a surprise to you that the Daytona was not an instant hit. Especially considering the Rolex Daytona is arguably the world’s most popular watch. The Rolex Daytona actually struggled to sell upon its release. It was essentially a shelf-warmer. It wasn’t until Paul Newman and various other celebrities started wearing the Daytona that the sales started improving.
The time is 1988
Two decades later, the Daytona received some major updates. Rolex introduced the Daytona Zenith movement calibre 4030 – the first automatic Daytona. Rolex outsourced this movement to Zenith. However, they did some refinements to it in-house.
This watch went on to become one of the most popular and collectible Daytonas ever made.
Moving into modern times
In 2000, Rolex released the first Daytona with their own fully in-house movement, the calibre 4130. The caliber 4130 is almost as famous as the Daytona itself nowadays and it is still used in the current Daytona, reference 116500. The movement has about 20% fewer parts than the Zenith calibre 4030, making it much easier to service. It also has an increase in power reserve to 72 hours from 50 hours.
First ceramic bezel
In 2011, the first Rolex Daytona with a ceramic bezel was released. It was the rose gold Daytona. Following this, in 2013, Rolex put out the special anniversary Daytona reference 116506 in platinum with a brown ceramic bezel.
From there, it took another 3 years for Rolex to incorporate the ceramic bezel for the steel models.
Rolex ceramic dial is patented and named the Cerachrom dial.
Now, all new Daytonas use the Cerachrom ceramic bezel. It adds both a highly functional and aesthetic dynamic to the watch. The bezel is essentially indestructible and the look of it is stunning. Moreover, it will keep its brand new look for decades and decades to come.
Stainless Steel Rolex Daytona reference 116500
Both the newest white and black ceramic bezel stainless steel Rolex Daytonas, reference 116500, were unveiled in 2016. They are like the modern incarnation of the Rolex 6263. The people were waiting for beauties like these for many years.
And while they have a nice throwback design, it is just in essence, as Rolex would never let the popularity of their past designs influence their modern innovations. The new steel Daytonas are simply a subtle (yet very effective) nod to the classics of the past.
BASICS OF THE SS ROLEX DAYTONA 116500
The stainless steel Rolex Daytona 116500 is iconic, gorgeous and just all-around cool. It’s an instant-classic.
The watch has a 40mm Oyster case – Lug-to-lug it measures in at 46.5mm and it is only 12.2mm thick. So, by no means is it a large watch. In fact, quite the contrary.
The crown and screw-down pushers are simply there to manipulate. With no date complications, winding and setting the watch is very straight forward. The screw-down pushers are unscrewed with a half-turn, allowing you to use the chronograph. You even get 100 meters of water resistance with the screw-down pushers, which is not common in racing pieces.
The movement, as discussed is the Rolex in-house calibre 4130 – same as predecessor reference 16520. It is still one of the best, if not the best, chonograph ever made. The center chronograph hand is accurate to 1/8th of a second
The bracelet is, of course, an Oyster bracelet. This is Rolex’s most recognizable bracelet. As iconic as the brand itself. It has that strong, sporty look that you would only expect from the Daytona, and the finishing is superb – highly polished center links and satin finish outer links.
The Daytona reference 116500 is incredibly comfortable thanks to the size, ergonomics and slenderness. The steel Daytona has a very appropriate amount of heft. Weight is distributed across the oyster case, which gently bows at the case walls. You can barely even feel it when it is on your wrist.
Cerachrom Black Bezel
Rolex claims the Cerachrom bezel will never change. It won’t lose color or fade, scratch or anything else in-between. This also means it won’t develop a patina. For some purists, this is a negative aspect. Nevertheless, you simply can’t deny the incredible improvement to the quality of Rolex’s watchmaking. They are constantly innovating. Rolex has always kept up with the times, that’s what makes them the best-known watch brand in the world.
Now, to get more specific on the invention of the Cerachrom bezel…
The Cerachrom bezel is made by centering the compound of zirconium aluminum and oxygen at 1,600 degrees Celsius, making it scratch resistant and UV resistant. The shine and luster will last a very, very long time…
This also makes the finishing a lot more challenging. Of course, it is nothing Rolex can’t manage. Using a diamond paste, they are able to produce this brilliant finish.
As for the numbers of the Tachymeter scale, they are inlaid with platinum through a Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process.
From the design to the patents, everything is done in-house by Rolex designers, scientists and technicians.
By the way, for the first time ever, the bezel is a monobloc, not an insert for the bezel. So, it’s entirely made from ceramic.
BLACK VS WHITE DIAL DAYTONA
Underneath the impenetrable sapphire crystal rests the ever discussable black and white dials…
From a heritage and legacy standpoint, both watches are equal. In our opinion, they are also equal in terms of their visual appeal. The black and white dial Daytonas are fantastic watches through and through. When looking at it completely unbiased, anyone can recognize that.
The watches are identical in every way except the color of the dial, as well as a couple of small details like the chapter rings. Nevertheless, the difference between black and white is obviously a major one, which is why we are left with the age-old debate of “white or black dial Daytona?”.
In the end, it comes down to personal preference. That said, there are a few things to note about the white dial and black dial Daytona, beyond simply stating one is white and one is black.
White Dial Daytona
Needless to say, the contrast of the dial, hands and subdials is far greater on the white dial. The white dial offers superior legibility and it pops on the wrist, providing a lot of wrist presence. It offers a very sporty look, yet it somehow seems the more dressy option as well.
People often call the white dial a “Panda”, due to the white dial with black ringed subdials (which resemble the eyes of an actual panda). However, any real collector and Rolex purist would deny that as an actual Panda dial has completely black subdials, not just the outer chapter rings.
Another thing to note about the white dial Daytona is it is more expensive. Among watch collectors, the white dial is a representation of that. It has been since the release of these two fine timepieces.
Black Dial Daytona
While the white dial Daytona may offer more attention from a distance, the black has a lot of flash to it upon closer inspection. The black dial features stainless steel rings around the sub dials. They have the same finishing as the outer links of the bracelet. The grooves of the chapter rings catch a lot of light, which surprisingly adds a lot of bling factor to the watch. It also gives the design of the watch a nice consistent flow. That said, the black is less consistent with its “flash”. It really depends on the lighting condition.
Most think of the black dial Rolex Daytona as the more classic style. It has a stealthier, more subtle look. Good for people who play it safe with their style. It’s not as “in your face” as the white dial. This may make it better for a suit.
Overall, the black dial with the new Cerachrom black bezel looks really stunning. It’s definitely a different kind of look than the black dials of the past. It also makes the tachymeter bezel super legible. In fact, we’d say more so than the white dial Daytona.
What’s more, and something important to note is that the black dial Daytona appears a bit larger as the dial spills over into the bezel. It really does give the watch a larger look. So, if you have an affinity towards large watches, the black dial Daytona will appear larger on the wrist than the white dial.
In the end, the white dial and black dial Daytona are not better or worse than one another. It’s just personal points of view will always have a bias.
Both the black dial and white dial Daytona are super contemporary. The designs are modern, sleek, and eye-catching, yet somehow neither feel overwhelming or imposing in any way.
Of course, the improvements in materials come with a price increase, but the residuals of these watches are incredible, especially with the waiting lists growing longer (or almost becoming so long they are nonexistent). Prices will stay firm without a doubt for the foreseeable future.
Rolex undoubtedly delivered with there newest version of the most popular chronograph in the world, the Stainless Steel Daytona. The fact of the matter is you can’t go wrong with either.
IS THE BLACK OR WHITE DIAL ROLEX DAYTONA MORE POPULAR?
For the most part, the popularity between the black and white dial Daytona has been down the line for the entire history of the Daytona. It’s never been as if one is way more popular than the other. That said, there has always been a bit of a popularity contest, and right now it seems the white dial is winning, hence the slightly higher price on the secondary market.
Overall, the popularity of the black and white dial is cyclical. We believe the white dial is more popular right now due to the new style black ceramic bezel. A lot of people are switching over to the white dial Daytona because of the stunning contrast created by the Cerachrom bezel. It really changes the dynamics of the white dial.
Be that as it may, you will find that a lot of people who lust after the white dial in spirit end up defecting to the black dial when they see the two in person. This may be because the black dial is surprisingly stunning in person and or the fact that the black dial does seem to wear bigger.
In any case, the answer to which is more popular, the white dial or black dial Daytona is clearly written in the market value.
STAINLESS STEEL ROLEX DAYTONA 116500 PRICE & MARKET VALUE – WHITE VS BLACK DIAL
The suggested retail price for both the white dial and black dial stainless steel Rolex Daytona is $13,900. However, the white dial Daytona sells for around $30,000 and the black dial Daytona sells for around $27,000 on the secondary market. The white dial Daytona reference 116500 is selling for more right now because the demand is slightly higher.
Ideally, if you were to purchase either the black dial or white dial Rolex Daytona, you’d get them at retail. Unfortunately, for most people, that is next to impossible.
For retail, you have to buy at an authorized dealer, and the chances of you walking in and getting one of these at an authorized dealer are slim to none. It’s pretty much like spotting a unicorn…seriously.
Moreover, you can’t even get on a waiting list these days. Not in any meaningful way at least. The lists are so long they are pointless. You essentially just have to know someone really well to get a SS Rolex Daytona reference 116500 through an AD…or you have to go to the secondhand market and pay the premium.
But the real question is, how in the world is a stainless steel sports watch selling for so much?
Here’s the answer…
Supply and demand.
The demand for the Daytona in stainless steel is so incredibly high, but Rolex does not produce enough to come close to meeting that demand. Whether this is on purpose or not, we do not know. What we do know is Rolex has created an exceptional product and collectors, CEO, actors, athletes, and every other superstar loves them. The fact that they are so hard to acquire only feeds the fire.
What was once a product is now a legend. A mystique surrounds the Daytona unlike any other watch that exists.
Will the price hold on for the Rolex Daytona 116500?
People have been wondering this since it was first released back in 2016 and the price has only continued to increase. If you look at the Daytona’s history, similar scenarios have led certain Daytona references of the past to become well above six figures on the secondary market and even millions at Auction. Reference 116500 may very well be one of those Daytona watches someday.
All in all, both the white dial and black dial stainless steel Rolex Daytona 116500 watches are legendary. They are extremely well built, gorgeous, and they are the epitome of a sports racing watch. Moreover, both have substantial resale value. You can’t go wrong with either. They are really a beautiful example of the evolution and continuous history of the Rolex Daytona.