The latest iterations of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona are defined by a metallic meteorite dial. The rare material, which comes from an asteroid that exploded millions of years ago, features a textured pattern formed as it cooled and crystallised over the years.

The material’s connotations of adventure and durability are apt for the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, which traces its history back to the 1950s, a decade that marked the beginning of Rolex’s explorations into the potentiality of a watch beyond standard timekeeping.

Professional pursuits such as deep-sea diving and aviation began to be catered for with technologically savvy designs, an investment that paid off – when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest in 1953, it was with their Oyster Perptuals at hand.

That same year, in celebration, Rolex unveiled both the first Oyster Perpetual Explorer and the first divers’ watch waterproof to a depth of 100m, the Submariner, cementing the brand’s new status as producer of professional watches.

A decade later, in 1963, the Cosmograph Daytona was launched, named after Daytona Beach in Florida, which had played host to more than a dozen world land speed records thanks to its firm sand. In the 1950s, the sand was replaced by the Daytona International Speedway, making location an integral part of motor racing history. The new watch nodded to this adrenaline-fuelled culture with its name and durable credentials, including a clear tachymetric scale for measuring speed, and a hardy case.

In the subsequent years, the Cosmograph Daytona has been rethought in multiple iterations, whether created with boldly coloured dials or cast in vivid yellow gold. Familiar design ticks, such as the emphasis on legibility, have remained consistent.

Now, Rolex has turned to a metallic meteorite dial. Mostly composed of iron and nickel, the material is cut into thin sections and subjected to a chemical treatment that uncovers its graphic internal structure. The three new versions – in white gold, yellow gold and Everose gold – all feature the familiar tachymetric scale, making this a useful tool for racing divers and watch aficionados alike. §