Rolex has never been the kind of company that makes rash design decisions, and the Rolex Daytona is no different. With two predominant designs in its half-century lifespan, it has been more a matter of evolution rather than revolution for the famous sports chronograph.
Starting with the ref. 6239, the Rolex Daytona (sans “Daytona” branding at this stage) introduced a handful of key features that differentiated it from the more sedate ref. 6268 Chronograph that predated it. The first was the transition of the tachymeter from the dial to the bezel, giving the watch a cleaner, bigger feel, and the second was the addition of inverted chronograph sub-dials, providing a high-contrast look for easy reading. An alternate “exotic” dial was also available, commonly known as the “Paul Newman” because of the actor’s affiliation with the piece. This distinctive design, characterised by its distinct outer track and sub-dial markers, has become a firm favourite among collectors, and was available as an option up until the ref. 6265.
The word “Daytona” finally appeared in 1965 (the year NASA awarded the Omega Speedmaster with official flight-qualified status), as did the ref. 6241, a variation of the ref. 6239 with a black Bakelite bezel. In that same year appeared the ref. 6240, with the word “Oyster” on the dial to compliment new screw-down pushers. The ref. 6240 was short-lived, soon replaced by the ref. 6262 and ref. 6264 in 1969, which carried the updated cal. 727 but still had the non screw-down pushers. Then came the ref. 6263 and ref. 6265 in 1971, which reintroduced the screw-down pushers and “Oyster” branding. Of course, it was the 1980s that enjoyed the refs. 6269 and 6270, both resplendent in 18kt yellow gold and studded with diamonds.
There appears to be very little visual difference between the 1988 ref. 16520 and the 2000 ref. 116520, save for dial marker size, sub-dial spacing, and repositioning of the running seconds hand. Small differences across the ref. 16520 and 116520 dials can be found on closer inspection, with five variants known for the ref. 16520 and five known so far for the ref. 116520. These variations consist of font changes, hand thickness changes, and luminous paint colour changes.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Back in the Sixties, Rolex struggled to move just a few hundred Rolex Daytonas through its stores every year, with only around 5% being “exotic”-dialled examples. Today, those exotics are worth the most, commanding prices way into the hundreds of thousands. That’s for a watch that originally sold for $210, the equivalent of $1,600 today. Standard dial versions are cheaper, but not cheap: anything from the pre-“Daytona” ref. 6239 to the last examples of the ref. 6265 will cost around $40,000, while the gold-and-diamonds refs. 6269 and 6270 fetch auction prices into the millions. The lucky few that had an early Rolex Daytona tucked away for the better part of half a century have certainly won the jackpot; it’s hard to believe that many of these priceless timepieces sat in retailers’ windows for as long as a decade.
Smaller budgets are still catered for, however, with the up-and-coming Zenith-powered ref. 16520 starting to generate a following of its own. With the ref. 116520 replacing it in 2000, the 1988 revamp is starting down the road to collector’s paradise, and makes a safe bet for investors looking to get a healthy return in a few decades time (although not perhaps at the scale early vintage examples enjoyed). It’s a solid investment in steel, particularly with the rare dial defect known as the “Patrizzi” dial, which turned the sub-dial rings brown, and adds around 25% to the standard ref. 16520 price. There are no exotic dials for the refs. 16520 and 116520, unfortunately.
Generally speaking, any pre-owned Rolex Daytona purchase will increase in value for the foreseeable future; in the last five years, the stainless steel ref. 116520 has had a whopping 30% added to its RRP. Unsurprisingly, models in precious metals don’t benefit quite as much in the residuals department, and garish variants such as the ref. 116519 Beach and the ref. 116598 SACO “Leopard” fare especially poorly, but these are the exceptions. Collector interest centres predominately around the stainless steel iterations, and that’s where the best investments lie.
It’s easy to suggest that the Rolex Daytona has somewhat fallen on its feet given its underwhelming early performance that should have seen it consigned to the pages of history, but a broader view demonstrates that Rolex has been particularly clever in generating a lot of its own luck over the years. Sure, the NASA gig didn’t pan out, but a savvy reaction and consistent output certainly won the brand the long game. Omega’s Speedmaster might have gone to the moon, but when it comes down to the bottom line, the art of selling watches, it’s Rolex with the queues out the door.
externe bron door : Andrew Morgan/ Equwatch.com