Rolex Celebrates a Special Le Mans 24 Hours

Rolex Celebrates a Special Le Mans 24 Hours

Anthony Peacock




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Along the pit wall, on the podium, and on 27 drivers’ wrists, Rolex was impossible to ignore at the momentous 100th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours recently.

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And that’s no bad thing. Rolex has been linked to the greatest endurance race in the world for decades and the level of support it has given motor racing over the years has been incomparable, from Formula 1 to GT cars.

For the special centenary running of the French classic, Rolex launched a unique 18-carat Cosmograph Daytona that comes in white gold with a Paul Newman-style reverse panda dial, turning the 12-hour chronograph subdial into a 24-hour counter.

Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona - Credit Rolex

See what they did there?

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is quite possibly the best-known race in Europe, perhaps even more so than the Monaco Grand Prix. Made synonymous with Steve McQueen in the epic 1972 film of the same name – where he famously wore a Heuer Monaco – Le Mans is a true cathedral of motorsport that has inspired racing passion among millions of fans and drivers.

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Paul Newman’s link to the Cosmograph Daytona is well-documented, but he’s also very a part of Le Mans history, finishing second overall in 1979 and winning his class at the wheel of a Porsche 935.

And that’s why the latest iteration of the Cosmograph Daytona is a bit like the Le Mans 24 Hours itself. A timepiece steeped in history and tradition but with the innovation and modernity that keeps it at the top of the watch market. It’s arguably the most desirable watch in the world, and this latest version, called ‘celebrating 100 years of speed’ retails at around £40,000, if you can get hold of one. Which you can’t.

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona  - Credit Rolex

Not only does this watch commemorate 100 years of Le Mans, but also 60 years of the Daytona, which was originally released in 1963. Making it extra special is the number “100” in red on the tachymeter scale in honour of the race’s centenary.

The ambassador for this watch is Tom Kristensen: the most successful driver at Le Mans with nine victories, six of which were consecutive.

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“Being the official ambassador is a big responsibility and an honour,” Kristensen says. “I’m proud to celebrate the legacy of the 24 Hours of Le Mans over the past 100 years and to reflect on the many evolutions and revolutions. For a racing driver, Rolex and Le Mans are the perfect match. Both have an extraordinary heritage, built and forged over a century.”


Ferrari marked its first appearance at Le Mans in 50 years with a stunning victory over Toyota, while the likes of Porsche, Peugeot, Vanwall, Cadillac and Glickenhaus all contributed to a 16-car top-class field.

As part of Le Mans tradition, the winners don't have to join what will be an unfeasibly long waiting list for this red hot watch – as they were all awarded one on the podium after the race. If you’re a racing driver, this is the one watch that you really want to have in your collection.

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Anthony Peacock

About the Author: Anthony Peacock

About the Author: Anthony Peacock

I’m passionate about a lot of things but especially cars, food, wine, film – and watches. As a writer and PR consultant, I’m lucky enough to travel the world and find inspiration from all sorts of amazing places. Sometimes I’m on my own and sometimes with others, but my timepiece is my constant companion.

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