What remains so surprising is the fact that the Daytona model was conceived only ever to be just a 'watch'. One of those metal instruments designed to fit our wrists which, with ceaseless patience, measures time as precisely as possible.
The way this 'simple' timepiece in only five decades has managed to transform itself into an icon and then into an art piece, still today provokes endless dispute amongst collectors throughout the world. Over the years, its many models and versions have unwittingly termed a different yet homogeneous 'definition' compared to the previous one, creating an altogether structural and organic ensemble which has progressed into a language of its own. A language, unveiled throughout the numerous pages, distinguished by overlapping dials, hands, watch cases and movements, newly developed designs, restyled graphics and colours. All features which with meticulous patience and attention to detail but never in a pedantic fashion, came to illustrate how this chronograph achieved its 'symbol' status, instead of remaining merely a functional object.
Inevitably, over a period of 20 years we have been able to observe how this timepiece has become an object of research, study, negotiation, collection, dispute; something to analyse, to understand, catalogue, purchase and, in some cases (and why not), to hide. That somebody, unimaginably, uses this wristwatch to 'measure time' is fascinating more than astonishing. This happens because when making a book such as the Ultimate Rolex Daytona, with over six hundred pages and thousands of unedited photographs, and which has involved time and work for a conscientious group of people, it is easy to fall into the trap of rhetoric. It is also all too easy to talk about a vintage phenomena, alternative investments or sons of the communication era. The Daytona we have discovered, understood, in other words 'read' is pure and simple passion. All the rest serves remind us that, whilst others wear the timepieces, we take 'the time'.
Rome, spring 2010
Pucci Papaleo and Paolo Gobbi, authors.