Still in 2019 during my Rolex phase, even though I had no interest in this piece, when I saw it on the wrist of a friend I felt compelled to write and produce a video on its beauty.
The Rolex Daytona 116508 green dial “Oro giallo Mona Lisa”
Watch collectors alike love labelling watches with affectionate monikers , particularly for the powerful brand that is Rolex. For its Submariner line, labels accepted over the years include the green shimmering “Hulk”, the sunburst and self-evident “Bluesy” and the matte blue “Smurf”. For the Gmt-Master 2 line, there is the appropriately named black and blue “Batman“, the day red bleeding into the night blue “Pepsi”, and the fizzy brown “Root Beer”. Rolexes associated with prominent historical icons include the iconic “Paul Newman” Art Deco Daytona, the bezel-less gmt master “Marlon Brando” and the complicated yellow gold emperor “Bao Dai. “ Rolex watches owned by famous people tend to elevate the watch to such a level that they outbid at international watch and art auctions.
The 116508 green, gold and red Daytona released at Baselworld 2016 has several unofficial nicknames, the “Green money Daytona”, the “Golden Hulk” aptly named by Tim Mosso at WatchBox, the “Christmas tree Daytona “ and what John Mayer dubbed a 2016 Baselworld “sleeper hit”. That year, John correctly understood that everyone was so enamored by the newly released stainless steel ceramic Daytona that they had overlooked the sheer beauty of the 116508. It was John’s gold crown “Eureka!” moment ( I couldn’t resist). Since its release, this piece truly deserves a much higher and less mundane labelling than the current nicknames.The 116508 belongs in a world famous art museum (Louvre or Uffizi will suffice) or a chateau (Versailles or Palazzo Medici will suffice). It should be encased and guarded behind bulletproof glass and maintained at a constant temperature, pressure and humidity. Or at least held in a sunbeamed glass case at an authorized dealer for everyone to marvel at but not handle. Masses of people worldwide would flock to view it as the masterpiece in the permanent collection of a museum. This is not just a wristwatch worn for everyday timekeeping, it is an important work of art that needs to be studied, curated, and preserved for many future generations.
I first heard about the watch on Hodinkee’s “Talking Watches 2” with John Mayer and thought nothing more of this gold production Rolex and it never crossed my radar. But this is not a watch to be viewed on the Rolex website much less in YouTube videos or in magazines. This is a watch to be seen and experienced in the flesh in order to fully understand the regal marriage of colors and the superlative elegance of its perfect weight and calculated proportions. It is quite simply the most beautiful watch I have ever seen but you cannot just call it a watch.
The first time I saw this magnificent timepiece was at a local authorized dealer on the wrist of a prominent watch collector. When my visual fields had instantly processed the combination of iridescent green (wavelength 495-570nm) and pure yellow gold (wavelength 570-590nm), the experience was purely visceral. I had never seen a more beautiful reflection (particularly the dial) and immediately set myself to hunt it as my next grail watch. Upon staring at that light-burst of a dial, what struck me besides its obvious beauty was how much effort Rolex must have invested in research and development to create such an exploding supernova of scattering green. That prismatic dial combines incident light beams to create an effect never before seen on a watch face, this deep, varying and penetrating green reflection which makes the flat dial appear seemingly three dimensional. This phenomenon of light is a sight that can only be experienced in person. And only then can one truly appreciate the painstaking science and engineering behind the invention of this effect which is far more aesthetic than functional. But scientific explanations do not do this watch justice.
This is a watch that evokes emotions of magnitude. The very definition of a great watch according to Aurel Bacs is not the complicated movement, metallurgy or even price, it is simply a “watch that puts a smile on your face. “ And this watch not only exceeds Aurel Bacs’ requirement, but also duplicates exactly what da Vinci intended for the Mona Lisa. To put an unadulterated and perpetual smile on a face.