Rolex Daytona 'Cream Dial'

Rolex Daytona 'Cream Dial'

Why We Love It

The Reference 16520 ushered in a new era for the Daytona Cosmograph model. For the first time, Rolex’s flagship timepiece utilized an automatic winding movement sourced from legendary Manufacture Zenith. These so-called “Zenith Daytonas” were produced for about a decade, and while they were replaced by a virtually identical model featuring an in-house manufacture movement, this first generation of automatic Daytonas has reached a cult-like status with collectors today, and values are beginning to see real traction. Given the astronomical prices that earlier variants have brought at auction, there is little doubt that this trend will only accelerate in the coming years.

In keep with this notion of appreciation, some of the Daytona from the first year of in-house movement production have developed a very unique and desirable characteristic- a cream dial. This piece shows early signs of that highly coveted cream color, referred by collectors as the 'Panna' dial. This form of dial patina is truly awe inspiring when fully developed. Put this beauty on your wrist and watch it get better with age.

The Daytona Story

The Rolex Daytona. King of the chronographs!

Rolex first started experimenting making chronographs in the 1930s – first known as Cosmographs – which set the mold for what would ultimately evolve into the single best-known chronograph in the world. These early watches, like many chronographs of the period, had monochromatic dials and a tachymeter ring printed on the outer edge of the dial. 

The design of the Cosmograph gradually changed its dial configuration (a shift from monochrome to the "panda" color schemes now closely associated with the model), and a relocation of the tachymetric scale to the bezel, which made it a clear sportsman's watch. In 1964 Rolex added the name Daytona to the model (taken from the 24 Hours of Daytona Race which Rolex started sponsoring in 1962), and its motorsports association was cemented.

The earliest Daytonas relied on that well known manually-wound workhorse movement - the Valjoux 72. But in 1988 Rolex released a Daytona using Zenith's El Primero movement, making the Cosmograph Daytona now worthy of the appellation "Oyster Perpetual." These "Zenith" Daytonas have gained serious traction over the past decade on the vintage chronograph market, with potential to appreciate in value to lofty heights.

Still, Rolex has never been the sort of brand to rely on off the shelf parts for long, so when the Reference 116520 debuted in 2000 at Basel World, it made headlines. This led to the eventual introduction of the current production model, Reference 116500LN, fitted with a black ceramic bezel that is arguably the most in-demand sports watch on the planet.

Whether your taste runs to Pre-Daytona Cosmographs, hand-cranking Valjoux 72 powered models from the 1960s-1980s, or an Automatic Zenith or In-House model, a Rolex Daytona is quite simply a world-class chronograph with a righteous amount of pomp and circumstance justifiably included.


SKU: AS03710

Stainless steel case is approximately 39mm (excluding the crown). Rolex automatic chronograph movement. Rolex Reference 116520. Circa 2000.

Overall Condition: The case is in excellent condition showing light wear from gentle use and no signs of prior polishing. Luminous 'Panna' dial is in fantastic condition with light cream color developing, white gold Luminova indices and matching handset. Signed Crown.

Includes stainless steel Oyster bracelet with signed deployant clasp (78490/SEL).

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