Rolex Daytona Terms You Need To Know

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5 Rolex Daytona Terms You Need to Know: From Big Red to Floating Dial Panda

5 Rolex Daytona Terms You Need to Know: From Big Red to Floating Dial Panda
5 Rolex Daytona Terms You Need to Know: From Big Red to Floating Dial Panda
05 Aug 2021

For many, Rolex is probably one of the first luxury watch brands that they grew up hearing about, and it’s easy to see why. Its extensive range of timepieces features timeless designs and classy aesthetics, making it the perfect accessory for any occasion.


But if you’re looking to get that specific Rolex Daytona on your watch wishlist, it’s useful to know some of the most commonly used terms in the watch community so you look like you know what you’re talking about.


Here are six of the most common Rolex Daytona definitions, terms, and slang used when talking about this popular watch model.


Cosmograph & Daytona

Historically speaking, the full and proper name of this popular Rolex watch is the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. But what’s actually the difference between the two terms?


Cosmograph is originally the official name of the Daytona series of watches, while the name Daytona was only added in the early 1960s once Rolex became the official timekeeper at the Daytona Florida racetrack.


Today, the name Daytona has become the common term referring to these watch models, while Cosmograph is omitted.


Paul Newman

Nowadays, you’ll often see celebrities, actors, and many of the same ilk being portrayed as ambassadors for various watch brands. But when it comes to the Rolex Daytona, one American actor made a name for himself in a different way.


Before Rolex created all of its own parts for its watches, the Paul Newman style dial was created for the Daytona line by dial manufacturer Singer. It contains noticeable differences compared to the regular classic versions and can be referred to as exotic dials.


These dials often came in black with white sub-registers, or white with black sub-registers, and included the use of different typefaces and fonts along with the colour of the outer seconds track matching the subdials.


So, why did it get named after the Hollywood actor? Newman was often spotted wearing a reference 6239 with the abovementioned dial configuration, and was soon associated with this particular style. And the rest is history.



What does an endangered animal have to do with a popularly sought-after watch?


Fundamentally, the term “Panda” is used whenever one is describing a chronograph with a white dial and black sub-registers, alluding to the colours of the iconic Chinese animal.


For the Rolex Daytona, the reference 6262 and 6265 models which have the Paul Newman dial with black sub-dials and white outer seconds track are typically referred to as Pandas.


Colloquially, Daytona lovers here tend to refer to the latest steel Daytona as Pandas or Reverse Pandas depending on the dial and sundial colour configuration.



Tropical Rolex Daytonas may conjure up images of lush greenery and nature, but this description couldn’t be further from its actual meaning.


Technically speaking, almost any Daytona has the potential to become a Tropical Daytona. Why? Because of sun exposure or deterioration.


The Rolex Daytona can be called Tropical once its normally black dial changes to brown due to ultraviolet rays or aging. And yes, black and white dials can also be referred to as Tropical once it ages enough for the black portions to change its hue.


Big Red

Contrary to what you may think, Big Red doesn’t have a long or complex history behind its name.


The term "Big Red" is famously used to describe one of the most popular features of the Daytona line of watches and this branding can be seen on several styles of black or white dials — the red “Daytona” signature which is commonly found above the hour counter sub-dial.


Floating Dial

No, a floating dial doesn’t mean that it’s separated from the rest of the watch. Rather, it refers to a simple yet defining visual feature on some Daytonas: the text.


Floating Daytonas refer to models which have text that appears to be “floating” — on a separate line on its own — in relation to the other text on the watch face. Examples include the word “Cosmograph” which stands alone 12 o’clock , and a floating “Daytona” at 6 o’clock — said to be highly sought after due to its rarity.


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