Rolex Daytona 'Zenith' Two-Tone

Rolex Daytona 'Zenith' Two-Tone

Why We Love It

For all of you who think owning a Rolex Daytona is out of reach, we’d recommend having a close look at the Reference 16523.

Introduced in 1988, the Reference 16523 is a so-called “Zenith” Daytona, powered by the legendary El Primero Automatic Chronograph Movement, and features a full-size Rolesor (Two-Tone) case and bracelet. While Two-Tone can be a polarizing style, we would argue there are few watches that work better in bicolor than the Cosmograph Daytona.

Offered with a variety of different dials, including slate grey, black, and white, these models are lagging far behind their all-steel counterparts - offering tremendous value for a high-style watch with a precious metal element!

This particular 16523 dates to circa 1997 and features the less common slate grey sunburst dial with Tritium luminous plots and handset that have developed a rich creamy patina throughout. The case and bracelet are in excellent condition, and the case back even retains its factory green sticker!

This is not only a clean example with great patina and a beautiful dial configuration, but it is the last great frontier for accessible, storied Daytonas - don't miss it!

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: AS03772

18K Yellow gold and stainless steel case is approximately 40mm (excluding the crown). Zenith Calibre 4030 automatic-winding chronograph movement. Rolex Reference 16253. Circa 1997.

Overall Condition: The case is in fantastic condition overall showing only faint wear consistent with age and use. Factory case back sticker remains intact. Luminous silver sunburst dial is in excellent condition with rich patina to the Tritium luminous indices and matching handset. Signed crown.

Includes two-tone solid link 18k yellow gold and stainless steel Oyster bracelet (78393A/703 SEL) with signed gold-through Fliplock clasp.

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