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Following a handful of tentative Zenograph/Centregraph monopushers in the late-1930s, the ref. 4500 ‘Pre-Daytona’ represents Rolex’s move into chronograph production in earnest.
Dating to the mid-1940s, the ref. 4500 boasts a conventional 2/4 o’clock pusher configuration and ‘side by side’ sub-dial layout. This particular example also includes bi-metal yellow gold and stainless steel case construction and a tachymeter/telemeter scale.
Given the obvious benefits of the chronograph’s combined wristwatch/stopwatch function, Rolex’s early pieces found popularity with many individuals in professions ranging from medicine to the armed forces and, prolifically, motorsport – including the racing legend Enzo Ferrari.
Evolution of the Rolex Chronograph continued over the next 20 years until, in 1963, the brand launched its first Daytona model. Powered using the hand-wound Valjoux 72 calibre and named after Florida’s Daytona International Speedway, it celebrated Rolex’s official partnering with the racetrack the year before and cemented the connection between Rolex chronographs and motorsport.
As such, adverts for the Daytona proudly bore straplines like: “We invented this to track the speed of a 7-liter sports racer”. Notably, somewhat overzealous early adverts for the new watch show one potential name for the Daytona to have been Le Mans, in honour of the renowned French 24-hour endurance race.
https://www.sothebys.com/en/articles/th ... ex-daytona
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