Rolex Daytona 16520

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The Zenith Daytona is the new Valjoux Daytona!
Everyone is well aware of the collectability of vintage four-digit Daytona references and of course we are quite familiar with the unavailability of modern ceramic Daytonas at Rolex dealerships. But the venerable 5-digit Daytona is the true sleeper hit.
In 1988, Rolex finally retired the vintage 6xxx series Daytonas with the hand wound Valjoux movement and acrylic crystal. Instead, it introduced the completely revamped ref. 16520 Daytona. This second-generation iteration was updated to a modern 40mm steel case with sapphire crystal, a glossy dial, and a heavily modified Zenith El Primero self-winding movement.
The Zenith-powered Daytonas were produced for just a decade until Rolex, finally we might add, introduced its first in-house chronograph movement in 2000. Due to their short production run, the Zenith Daytonas are in relatively short supply. This one is one of the most desirable variations among them because of its 'Patrizzi dial'. In 2005, Mr. Osvaldo Patrizzi, chairman of the famed Antiquorum auction house noticed that some black-dial Zenith Daytonas featured discolored counters. This imperfection occurs on some 16520 Daytonas due to use of an organic varnish that inadvertently turned into a brownish color over time. These ‘Patrizzi dials’ are an especially rare and sought-after variation among collectors. This example dates back to 1999 and features a glossy black dial with beautiful light golden sub-dials. The watch is in great condition with a nice thick case and comes on an Oyster bracelet with polished center links.


Rolex started making chronographs in the 1930s, but it was only in 1963 that a named product line was introduced: the Cosmograph. In some early advertisements, Rolex referred to the watch as the ‘Le Mans’ after the famous race track in France, although the name never appeared on the dial. After a few years, the line was officially renamed Cosmograph Daytona, after the racetrack in Florida.The most noticeable difference between these Cosmograph (Daytona) models and earlier Rolex chronographs was the tachymeter scale (used for measuring distance and speed) that was moved from its traditional placement on the dial to the bezel. Furthermore, the dial was updated with the introduction of contrasting sub-dials.It's hard to imagine now, but Daytonas received little love after their release. Most Daytonas languished in dealer displays for years and only started to get noticed by Italian collectors and dealers in the late 1980s. Nowadays, Daytonas are among the most sought after Rolex models, fetching prices from $20,000 for modern ones to many millions for rare vintage references. A big contrast with the $210 list price when it was first released!



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