The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”

By Neha S. Bajpai
1 Dec 2023
6 min read

One of the top 25 watches on the Wristcheck Watch Index, this green dial Daytona has outperformed some of the most desirable models from the brand over the last few years

In the recent history of the world’s most powerful watch brand, 2016 was a momentous year. It was the year Rolex released the Daytona Ref. 116500LN – one of the most coveted steel sports watches from the brand to date. Though this new icon in the family of icons was every bit the same as its predecessor – the Ref. 116520, it ushered an unprecedented frenzy among collectors. Crafted in the same 40mm steel case and equipped with the same Caliber 4130, the watch got people super excited about its black Cerachrom bezel and slight dial tweaks, which made it look like a modern version of the panda dial Paul Newman Daytona. Available in both white and black dial variations at USD 13500 on retail, the Ref. 116500LN witnessed a dramatic price hike in the secondary market and was selling at approximately USD 50,000 in March 2022.

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”
Launched in the same year as the Ref. 116500LN, the yellow gold, green dial “John Mayer” Daytona Ref. 116508-0013 recorded a major upward surge in its price, going from approximately USD 68,000 in January to around USD 90,000 in April this year

Pulled down by the crypto crash, most trophy watches from Rolex recorded a slide of around 12% over the last year. While the Ref. 116500LN was no exception to price reversals, there was one watch from the Daytona collection that actually appreciated in value. Launched in the same year as the Ref. 116500LN, the yellow gold, green dial “John Mayer” Daytona Ref. 116508-0013 recorded a major upward surge in its price, going from approximately USD 68,000 in January to around USD 90,000 in April this year.

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”

As per the Wristcheck Watch Index (our proprietary algorithm that estimates the market price for the top 100 most traded watch models in the market by aggregating auditable data and analysis from trusted partners, auction houses and reseller platforms), out of the top 15 Daytona models, the prices for Ref. 116508-0013 soared 16% between January and November this year, whereas the ice blue Daytona Platinum Ref. 116506-0001 recorded the sharpest drop at 12%.

Compared to popular Daytonas in precious metals like the 18k white gold Ref. 116509-0072 (dropped 3% on the Wristcheck Watch Index) and the black dial, yellow gold variation of the Ref. 116508-0013 (dropped 7% on the Wristcheck Watch Index), the “John Mayer” Daytona proved its resilience against all market speculations and fluctuations over the last year.

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”

So what made this watch a winner in a highly volatile market? As per the Wristcheck Watch Index, the Green Dial Daytona witnessed a phenomenal peak on two occasions over the last five years – in Mar 2020 when the model was selling at around USD 126k and then after the downturn in the post-pandemic market, it peaked again in April this year, going out at around USD 90k.

While last year’s surge in prices for this luscious green dial Daytona can be attributed to the general market sentiment at the time, the upswing in April 2023 came about with Rolex’s announcement on discontinuing certain models in the Daytona collection, including the Ref. 116508-0013. Even before the brand’s official announcement, the market had started to see an upward trend in prices for key models such as Ref. 116500LN, the white gold, blue dial Ref. 116509-0071 and of course, the “John Mayer” Daytona Ref. 116508-0013.

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”

As seen in the graph, after a period of decline, the price for the “John Mayer” Daytona increased by about 30% from January to April this year. With this rise, many sellers tried to take advantage of the trend and put more and more watches on the market.This explains the downward trend after the rise. The sharp increase in supply brought prices back to lower levels, which is why there has been a slight decline in the last few months compared to April.

Historically speaking, the brands experiencing the greatest shortages (and longest waiting lists at authorized dealers) perform the best in the secondary market. And this phenomenon has always played in favor of Rolex’s inimitable reputation and power in the luxury watch world. According to @tudorcollector and Rolex expert, Ross Povey, anything that is made in small numbers or has been discontinued is in demand. “The current Daytona market, however, is a little different because Rolex literally discontinued every model this year to bring in the new Daytona family. They’ve never done anything like that before, so every Daytona from before April 2023 is now technically ‘discontinued’. The issue with that is that there are thousands of these watches out there and so they can’t all be desirable. We’re beginning to see some of the off-catalog pieces from the last few years creep into the market and we can’t overlook the Le Mans special edition Daytona. That’s a great watch, but I feel the current market price could be a bubble!,” says Povey.

At the top of its game right now, the “John Mayer” Daytona Ref. 116508-0013 wasn’t always a high-flier but by virtue of its birth in the devastatingly cool Daytona family and loads of celeb love over the years, the Ref. 116508-0013 seems like the most impactful watch from Rolex this year.

Here’s a brief look at its success story so far.

The Sleeper Smash Hit From 2016

The Cosmograph Daytona comes in various metals – Everose, yellow gold, and platinum. However, the fervor for the Ref. 116500LN seems to surpass the demand for all these models combined. This version embodies the quintessence of the Daytona – a 904L Oystersteel case measuring 40mm x 12.2mm, equipped with screw-down crowns, a Cerachrom bezel, a corresponding 904L Oystersteel bracelet, all for a list price of USD 13,500.

Launched alongside this legend of a watch, the Ref. 116508-0013, now known as the “John Mayer” Daytona, literally went unnoticed in 2016. Regarded as one of the most collectible and virtually unobtainable pieces of luxury today, the Ref. 116508-0013 boasts the familiar 40mm Oyster case, equipped with the Calibre 4130, maintaining an impressive accuracy of -2/+2 a day. The sole distinction between this model and its predecessors lies in its dial, and what a remarkable dial it is! While yellow gold Daytona watches often feature black or champagne dials but this one is adorned with a luscious emerald green.

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”
Regarded as one of the most collectible and virtually unobtainable pieces of luxury today, the Ref. 116508-0013 boasts the familiar 40mm Oyster case, equipped with the Calibre 4130 Photo: Phillips

Just like other Daytonas, this model features a small second hand at six o'clock, a 30-minute counter at three o'clock, and a 12-hour counter at nine o'clock. Despite hosting three sub-dials and the watch model's name inscribed at 12 o'clock, the dial maintains a spacious and uncluttered feel. Watch enthusiasts often rave about the Calibre 4130's blue Parachrom hairsprings—a Rolex innovation crafted from niobium and zirconium. Initially introduced in 2000, this caliber also boasts an extended power reserve of approximately 72 hours, surpassing the 50-hour capacity of earlier full-gold Daytona models, even those featuring special dials.

Interestingly, the year Rolex debuted the Ref. 116508-0013, it also introduced the green seal – a symbol of the Superlative Chronometer status that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.

While the Ref. 116500LN ushered the “unobtainable” status for Rolex watches in modern times, the green dial Ref. 116508-0013 made the waiting lists even longer.

How John Mayer Made The Ref. 116508-0013 A Cult Watch

Three years after its official launch, the green dial Daytona started to hit headlines after John Mayer – one of the most astute celebrity watch collectors – acknowledged it as a ‘sleeper hit’ in Hodinkee’s Talking Watches. As someone who likes looking “past the hype”, Mayer is particularly fond of this watch, which he snapped up soon after its launch in 2016. “It’s still out there…still floating around and it’s the future thing,” he declared on that famous episode of Talking Watches from 2019. As soon as word got out and people spotted Mayer flaunting that gorgeous green dial every now and then, there was a colossal spike in demand that pushed the watch’s retail price of USD 34,650 to as much as USD 88,000 for a pre-owned piece. “It’s a Daytona and so I don’t believe that any model truly flies under the radar. Having said that, however, there are always taste makers and influencers (in the truest sense of the word) that help shape the landscape and horological zeitgeist, one of which is John Mayer. Why I think so many people follow his lead is because he isn’t a dealer and has nothing to gain by ‘talking up’ a watch. He just loves them. I disagree with him that Rolex doesn't make colorful dials, which was key to his argument on why that watch was special, but he was right that it was cool,” explains Povey.

Right from Conor McGregor to tennis legend Roger Federer, rapper Drake, and mega-influencer Supercar Blondie, the Ref. 116508-0013 has made an appearance on the wrist of almost everyone who's anyone, so it won’t be wrong to say that it’s not just a “John Mayer” Daytona anymore but one of the most important chronograph sport watches of all time.

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”
From Conor McGregor to Roger Federer, Drake, and Supercar Blondie, the Ref. 116508-0013 is a popular choice. It has become more than just a "John Mayer" Daytona and is now considered one of the most significant sport watches ever

The Rise & Fall Of The Daytona In The Secondary Market

Among the multitude of iconic watches produced by Rolex—ranging from the Explorer to the GMT-Master and the Submariner—none boasts a narrative arc quite as distinctive as the Daytona's. Now a brand unto itself – the Rolex Daytona started out as an experimental sports chronograph with automotive roots and gradually evolved into a legend which is instantly recognizable.

While Daytonas were always priced at a premium—25 percent higher than other Rolex tool watches like the Submariner or GMT-Master, they didn’t inspire a breathless fascination amidst enthusiasts as they do today. The watch's gradual rise to fame owes much to the principles of supply and demand. Initially, there was very little interest in these models, prompting Rolex to limit their production. This move unintentionally transformed the Daytona into an exceedingly rare and coveted item for its perceived scarcity.

In recent years, the biggest boost to the Daytona collection came from the groundbreaking sale of movie star Paul Newman’s Daytona. In 2017, Phillps sold the actor’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6239 for a whopping USD 17.8 million – making it the most expensive wristwatch ever sold. It acted as a catalyst for the recent surge in watch investments over the past few years. While contemporary Daytonas have kind of stabilized in both secondary and gray markets, the prices of rare vintage Daytonas have continued to soar.

The Rise of The Rolex Daytona “John Mayer”
In 2017, Phillps sold the actor’s Rolex Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6239 for a whopping $17.8 million – making it the most expensive wristwatch ever sold Photo: Phillips

Around a decade ago, one could get a steel Daytona (Ref. 116520) for around USD 10,500 and while securing a Daytona from an authorized dealer wasn't the easiest task, it wasn’t impossible. The landscape shifted dramatically with the arrival of the steel Daytona featuring a Cerachrom bezel in 2016. Within months of its launch, the Ref. 116500LN was selling at a 50% premium over retail in the secondary market. By early 2021, the prices for this prestigious Daytona recorded an insane climbpriced at USD 13,500 at retail, the watch was commanding a premium of around 160% in the secondary market. This wasn’t the only Daytona going up inexorably, there were other models like the white gold ceramic with Oysterflex bracelet that went up by 30% in the same period.

As per the Wristcheck Watch Index, the “John Mayer” Daytona has had a fantastic run over the last five years. Originally introduced with a price tag of USD 34,650, the watch was actually selling under retail in 2018 (at around USD 23k). Things started to look up for this model somewhere in mid 2019 – the ‘Mayer Mania’ had played its role in boosting the watch’s performance, which was now selling at around USD 38k. Its value and subsequent price peaked in March 2022 and touched a whopping 126k.

After two years of an unprecedented surge, the market started to cool down in Jan 2023. Slowing economies, higher interest rates and the crash in cryptocurrency values, ushered a much-needed price correction in the secondary watch market. The “John Daytona” was selling at around 68k earlier this year but it picked up momentum soon after Watches & Wonders in April. Just a few weeks after its discontinuation, the model recorded its highest spike (almost 20%) this year and was selling at USD 88k. As per the Wristcheck Watch Index, the “John Mayer” Daytona has dipped a bit over the last six months but it’s still one of the most desirable Daytonas in the market, commanding 89% premium over retail.

Is The ‘John Mayer’ Daytona Recession-Proof?

“The last couple of years have taught us that nothing is actually recession-proof, unless you bought it at retail. We are back in a time where there are Rolex watches selling under retail on the secondary market. Every buyer is in their own unique context. You bought it at a list price, you are safe. You bought at the peak, you have lost a considerable amount of money. Then, to some people that’s a problem (dealers and those leveraged against the piece) and those to whom it doesn’t really matter (HNW individuals and passionate collectors). The green Ref. 116508-0013 is still selling more than double its retail and seems to be steady and climbing slowly, so I think it’s as good a bet as any,” says Povey.