One of the most extravagant and controversial timepieces created by Rolex has to be the Daytona Leopard 116598SACO. This watch was unlike any other Rolex on the market and divided collectors on the extravagance of this timepiece.
This isn’t the first time Rolex has created a timepiece that had this much bling. While the first Daytona was released back in 1963, Rolex didn’t start putting gems on the watch till about the mid-1980s, when the reference 6269 model was released. This timepiece came with a solid gold case along with diamonds on the bezel. Rolex was creating these gem-set timepieces far and few in between, with only a few reference models been given this treatment.
The Daytona Leopard 16598SACO then underlines how unique and certainly uncharacteristic of Rolex to create such a timepiece. This timepiece, released in 2004, came with a 40mm 18k gold case, with a 12mm thick case size. The screwdown Triplock crown, and chronograph pushers were all done in gold to match the case nicely. The Daytona Leopard 16598SACO comes with closed case back an anti-reflective sapphire crystal and more importantly, a bezel set with 35 baguette-cut cognac sapphires. This is about where the ordinary stops for this watch.
The dial features a leopard print that is black enamel on a textured base which changes colour from yellow to orange to black. The hour indices on this watch have been “blinged” up too, as they are given square diamonds with gold surroundings. To match the case finish and also make it stand out on the leopard print background, Rolex has done the chronograph sub counters in gold, along with the hour and minute hands and chronograph seconds hand. Albeit quite useless on this model, the chronograph track for time measurement is still retained.
Rolex’s touch of craziness on this timepiece doesn’t stop there. The strap that is offered as standard takes it up another notch. While there are many noticeable features of the strap, the most subtle one is the fact that it is a…leather strap. All Daytona models up until the release of this model have been on a bracelet. The leather strap comes with a leopard print that matches the dial, and features end links that are set with 24 diamonds on each side. Rolex says that the design has been created to mimick a leopard’s claw, with the 6-12-6 diamond layout. Finishing off the strap is a gold deployant clasp.
This timepiece from Rolex is as flamboyant and outrageous as you’d get. No other piece to this date has been created to reflect this type of design from the brand. While opinions were certainly divided upon its release, as you’ll see below, this in-your-face timepiece has been spotted on the wrists of celebrities, musicians, and even the Princess of Eswatini!