Sit up, eyes forward and make sure you have a notepad and fountain pen at the ready for today’s history lecture. Putting a dictaphone (who even has those now?) on my desk and then going for a snooze is unacceptable for today we’ll be looking at the history of another of the most popular and iconic wristwatches the world has ever seen. Last time we had the Submariner, well now it’s time for a look at one of their best pieces and most elusive pieces, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.
It all starts with a man called Sir Malcolm Campbell. He’s quite well known in both Great Britain and the United States, but for others who are unfamiliar with him, he was the first proper ambassador for the Rolex company. He’s known for setting many many land speed records in British cars on the Daytona Beach in Florida. It became quite a spectacle at the time for the residents of the area to go and watch the British man come down and race his British car along the sands and break as many records as possible in one go. This captured the imagination of Rolex and its founder, Englishman Hans Wilsdorf which eventually used pictures of Sir Malcolm in theiradverts for the ‘Oyster’ wrist watches.
Sir Malcolm Campbell featured in adverts for Rolex timepieces as the brand’s first full on ambassador
This local tradition that had formed all suddenly stopped one day in 1935 when Sir Malcolm Campbell came and looked at the track and frowned with disapproval. He noted that the track itself was becoming worm and had holes developing in it. He then decided to move to the Bonneville Salt Flats and from that moment on I expect some people just didn’t know what to do with themselves any more.
However all was not lost for them. You see, Sir Malcolm Campbell was good friends with another man called William France. He moved to the area in 1935 and continued to make use of the sand. To those who don’t live in America or simply haven’t heard of him, William France was the father of the most popular American motorsport, NASCAR. In 1938 he took over management of the annual running of the world’s first stock car race which lasted for 78 laps (roughly 250 miles or 400km).