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Hot Rods & Rolex: Check Out 24 Hours of Daytona Winners’ Custom Watches

Aston Martin takes home a class victory and four stunning luxury watches.

Aston Martin team Magnus racing 24 Hours of Daytona(Photo/Aston Martin)
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Time, speed, and the beauty of fine-tuned machines these are the common threads that weave auto racing and wristwatches together. For as long as gas-powered engines have been tearing around tracks, there’s been a need to precisely measure the seconds. And on both fronts, “Daytona” lies at the crossroads.

But I’m not just talking about the 3.6-mile road course, or the video game that bears its name. After reaching the heights of Everest less than 10 years prior, Rolex became the official timekeeper of the Daytona International Speedway in 1963.

To honor the occasion, Rolex released a new version of one of its most popular mechanical chronographs, The Cosmograph Reference 6239 Daytona. Sure, it was also initially referred to as the “Le Mans.” But it was the Florida connection that stuck.

Fast forward to 2023. Rolex has been the official corporate sponsor of the 24 Hours of Daytona since 1992, and the Rolex Daytona is enjoying its 60th birthday.

And since the company’s name is so inextricably linked with the high-end speed and excitement of the event, winning drivers now receive a luxury watch along with their purses.

24 Hours of Daytona: Aston Martin’s First Win

This year, it was the Heart of Racing team and their Aston Martin Vantage that came through with the winning effort in the GTD class. It’s the first such win for the venerable British maker, after almost 60 years of competition.

Aston Martin team Magnus racing 24 Hours of Daytona
(Photo/Aston Martin)

Perhaps fittingly, the four-man crew of car #27 (Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner, and Ian James) are going home with something a little extra special.

A company PR rep informs GearJunkie that, “This year’s winners will receive the latest edition of the famed Daytona watch, which was introduced in 2016 and had meteorite dials reintroduced in 2021.”

Wait, meteorite? Like, the kind from outer space? You bet. For decades, Rolex has been producing wristwatches using pieces of an ancient planetary core: the Gibeon Meteorite.

Rolex watch

This object impacted and scattered itself across Southern Africa millions of years ago; the fragments are composed largely of “ironnickel alloy containing significant amounts of cobalt and phosphorus.”

It’s since fallen under the protection of the Namibian government, but Rolex managed to buy up several of the more “aesthetically pleasing deposits” before harvesting came to an end.

Fast cars are neat and all, but wearing a billion-year-old chunk of an alien world on your wrist? That’s insanely cool, and the Cosmograph name definitely fits.

If you’re looking to grab an earthbound rocket ship, you can always grab an Aston Martin of your own. Double check your 401k and head over to eBay Motors, where several examples of the Vantage are currently up for auction.

And if you’re curious about the further history of Rolex and the 24 Hours of Daytona, here’s a look at three of the previous winners and their watches.

24 Hours of Daytona Past Winners: Cars & Watches

2013: Audi R8 678 / Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

2013 Audi R8

If there’s any car that’s as good-looking as a Rolex, it has to be the Audi R8. On the strength of its 5.2L V-10, this mid-engine supercar roared to victory in 2013, making 678 laps in 24 hours.

2013 Rolex 50th Anniversary watch

With their win in the GT class, drivers Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara, and Dion von Moltke were each awarded a diamond-encrusted 50th Anniversary Cosmograph, with stunning blue hands and subdials.

2003: Porsche 911 (Type 996) / Third Series Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

2003 Porsche 911

The 2003 24 Hours of Daytona was one for the books.

Not only did Kevin Buckler, Michael Schrom, Timo Bernhard, and Jörg Bergmeister take first in the GT class, but they finished at the top of the pack overall.

They ticked off 695 laps in their Porsche 996 GT3-RS, carried for a full day by its 3.6L flat-6 power plant. And at the end, each went home with a Third Series Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. Just look at that gold bracelet, bezel, and case — truly a fitting prize for taking the checkered flag.

2003 Rolex Daytona Third Series watch

1993: Mazda RX-7 / Second Series Rolex Daytona

Are you ready for some “fast food” jokes? Because when Dick Greer, Mike Mees, Peter Uria, and the fittingly named Al Bacon of the Wendy’s Racing team emerged victorious in the 1993 GTU class, I’m sure there were plenty to go around.

1993 Mazda RX-7

623 laps in a legendary Mazda RX-7 — that’s a lot of trips ’round the drive thru. Once the race (and relevant burger patties) were squared away, each of the winning drivers was awarded a Second Series Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, with a pale gold coloration reminiscent of freshly changed fryer oil.

1993 Rolex Second Series Daytona watch

Rolex’s Cosmograph Watch: Conclusion

Silliness aside, this is an interesting pairing of racing tradition and timepieces. We’re generally skeptical of high-end watches at GearJunkie, but there’s a cool-factor here that can’t be denied. Whether it’s the history, the speed, or the thought of wearing a piece of outer space on your wrist, the Rolex Cosmograph has earned its place atop the practical luxury leaderboard.

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