Almost every year for the past century, the 24 Hours of Le Mans has captivated petrolheads with a race that pushes the limits of human and machine performance with diverse and demanding courses along the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.
Since the race quickly became a platform for marques and teams to showcase advancements in automotive innovation, it was only natural that Rolex, a company similarly devoted to mechanical excellence, would become the race’s “Official Timepiece” in 2001 — a role that it continues to fulfil to this day.
Two Rolex Testimonees even made appearances at this year’s landmark race: 2009 FIA Formula 1 Drivers’ World Champion Jenson Button, who participated in Garage 56, and Le Mans’ most decorated driver with nine victories, Tom Kristensen, who served as ambassador for the event.
But horology fans will likely be more interested in what this year’s winners walked away with — a special-edition Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona with black counters on a black dial and an engraved caseback denoting the win as well as the 100th anniversary of the race.
Thankfully, you do not need to possess world-class driving prowess to get your hands on this stunning model because Rolex has released a similar “civilian” version for the occasion. Similar to the winners’ model, the commemorative Cosmograph Daytona is a 40mm chronograph with a black ceramic Cerachrom bezel, but here, the case is crafted in 18 ct white gold, with a dial that features counters whose graphic design is inspired by a traditional Rolex dial with white counters. The number “100” on the tachymetric scale is also filled with red ceramic as a nod to the centenary.
Instead of a solid caseback, this special edition features a transparent one through which you can admire the exclusive movement, calibre 4132 — a modification of the calibre 4131 that launched earlier this year as part of the Cosmograph Daytona’s 60th anniversary releases. Thanks to a patented mechanism comprising seven components, the Le Mans edition chronograph is able to count up to 24 hours instead of the standard 12, through the subdial at 9 o’clock.
The Cosmograph Daytona’s extraordinary desirability can be attributed to its timeless design and rich motoring history, but it’s really Rolex’s performance-driven principles that give its timepieces commercial longevity. The calibre 4132 is equipped with Rolex’s in-house paramagnetic Chronergy escapement and Parachrom hairspring for superlative precision, as well as Paraflex shock absorbers for greater protection.
New finishes and decorations on the movement include the Rolex Côtes de Genève on the bridges and an openworked 18 ct yellow gold rotor with an optimised ball bearing. Part of the Oyster Perpetual family, the automatic watch comes with 72 hours of power reserve and 100m of water resistance.
Since 1963, the Cosmograph Daytona has kept evolving to meet the needs of professional racing drivers. This latest tribute to the 24 Hours of Le Mans captures the essence of speed like never before.