The Rolex Zenith Daytona takes its name from the fact that it’s powered by a Zenith El Primero calibre... but a heavily-modified one!
These days, the Crown manufactures everything in-house. And we do mean everything. This wasn’t always the case though. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Rolex still relied on third-party suppliers for certain things like movements, which it then modified in-house.
Towards the mid to late 1980’s , there was a clear trend towards self-winding watches. But, creating a self-winding chronograph movement from scratch is very complex, it’s basically one of the most intricate complications in the watchmaking process.
So, Rolex needed a solution and it came in the form of the Zenith El Primero Calibre 400. At that moment, considered the best self-winding chronograph movement available on the market. Making it the clear choice for Rolex, who only works with the best.
But, Rolex didn’t do a straight transplant of the El Primero calibre into the Daytona and called it quits. Instead extensive modifications were undertaken to align the new movement with Rolex’s requirements. Estimates put it at around 200 changes in total. With the resulting movement retaining a mere 50% of the Zenith caliber 400’s parts. These changes focused on increasing reliability and minimising the need for maintenance.
In our book, it is a collectible! And the fact that it’s also a great looking watch you can wear and enjoy every day? Well, that’s a major bonus.