The  Rolex Daytona 116520 has been with us for more than 16 years, from its introduction in 2000 until its substitution, the part-earthenware 116500 ( active here ) appeared in 2016. The steel Daytona has not exclusively been an uncommon winged animal that Rolex has regularly made amazingly hard to get, yet additionally a symbol among extravagance chronographs. I had one around for two or three weeks and, not very long subsequent to beginning to wear it, I asked myself the inquiry: is the steel Daytona a genuine watch lover’s watch? Has it matured well? Has it held its wizardry, or has its distinction made it allowed its to watch down as competition became fiercer consistently? Heaps of inquiries at the forefront of my thoughts, so I set off looking for answers.

First Cosmograph Daytona, 1963. Source: Rolex

A Brief, Non-Teary-Eyed Recap Of The History Of The Rolex Daytona

There’s an idiom in Hungarian that, in direct interpretation, goes like “it’s coming out my elbow by now.” Although, come to consider it, I am not exactly sure how this logically sketchy saying got on, the Daytona’s history now might just be coming out your elbow as well – you have heard it so numerous times.


If you have no companions and need to ensure it remains as such, attempt and meet new ones in lodging entryways, or on the web, ridiculing everything, constantly. On the other hand, simply get familiar with these numbers and use them regularly at public social occasions: 6239, 6240, 6262, 6269, 16520, 116520. There are a greater amount of these Daytona references, however these will as of now get the job done to shield respectable and fun individuals from investing an excess of energy around you, should you talk about these often. The accentuation is on not calling everything by its reference constantly like an absolute douche – and not on being uninformed about watch history.

Rolex Reference 4113 Split-Seconds Chronograph from around 1942. Source: Phillips

Although Rolex has been creating chronographs since at any rate the thirties, the Daytona’s history can really be followed back to the fifties, when Rolex made a couple of chronographs which they now and again rather blandly named “Chronograph.” The five lines of bragging on watch dials was nevertheless a simple dream by then. Rolex appears to not actually need you to think a lot about these expelled models – not one pre-Daytona chronograph is in their generally actually very point by point history page, nor is one in their yet more nitty gritty history page on their press-just site.

Rolex Monoblocco Oyster Chronograph Antimagnetic Ref. 3525: a clinical chronograph in hardened steel from around 1941. Source: Antiquorum

In a nutshell, the supposed “pre-Daytona” history that you might need to know is the way that the Cosmograph name Rolex enlisted as right on time as 1955, and that the reference 6238, presented in 1961 (a few sources state 1963), was a strong looking Cosmograph that didn’t yet have the Daytona name added to it. What Rolex needs you to know is the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona reference 6239 from 1963, the first “proper Daytona.” It was nicknamed “Daytona” after Rolex’s relationship with the Daytona International Speedway started in 1962. All things considered, until now, the complete name of the Daytona is Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona.


Rolex Daytona 16520 controlled by a changed Zenith El Primero, around 1997. Source: Luca Musumeci

Let us jump into the future, leaving the remainder of Rolex Daytona history – loaded up with peculiar, captivating and uncommon references – to you to investigate, and get directly to the Rolex Daytona reference 16520. Notice the 5-digit reference instead of the cutting edge variants’ 6-digit number. Presented in 1988 and underway until 2000, the 16520 is regularly alluded to as the “Zenith Daytona” as it was outfitted with the Rolex 4030 type, a development dependent on the Zenith El Primero that Rolex adjusted predominantly by fitting an alternate break haggle, and by dropping its working recurrence from the El Primero’s acclaimed 5Hz to 4Hz. Prior to 1988, Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas utilized hand-wound, Valjoux-based calibers.


Rolex 4130 type. Source: Rolex

2000 saw the introduction of the Rolex Daytona 116520 and with it the celebrated Rolex 4130 type that is, obviously, beating inside this review unit just as the most recent, 2016-age of the Daytona. The dials and the wristband have likewise been changed around 2000, yet this isn’t a comparison between these prior models, so let’s focus on this review’s 16-year-standing “Steel Daytona” – as is brought in quiet murmurs among watch devotees who have been acclimated with the marvelously long holding up records and stratospheric, though apparently self-incurred restrictiveness of it.


First – and very boss – Rolex Cosmograph Daytona outfitted with the 4130 development, 2000. Source: Rolex

About Why The Steel Daytona Has Been So Difficult To Get

I mean, I dare not think the number of articles, gathering posts, Q&A’s I have perused and conversations I have had about the Rolex Daytona, and a ton of them at any rate addressed this momentous eliteness of the steel Daytona. On the off chance that you had the gold one it just implied you had more cash to spend on it, however in watch fan circles shaking a steel one right up ’til today implies you probably devoted a ton of exertion in chasing one of these down – if it somehow managed to come from approved sources, that is.


One thing I hand on heart don’t remember perusing or hearing is the thing that could in all likelihood be the genuine purpose behind the restricted accessibility of the steel Daytona: its development (and, since its 2016 update, which we’ll take a gander at in a different review, the fired bezel), that is expensive and hard to deliver. Consistently we see marks carefully create complicated developments or different highlights which they will just make accessible in valuable metal cased forms – regardless of whether different models of a similar brand do come in steel. The explanation for this strategy is that the a lot better grade up on valuable metal cases help cover the extremely significant expenses of both the turn of events and the assembling of said new developments or features.


Rods of 904L treated steel. Source: Rolex

Just to locate a most fitting model from Rolex’s ongoing past: the new “Pepsi” GMT-Master II ( active here ) with its bi-shading, gigantic undeniable irritation to-make fired bezel, that (some state, and I consent) to date comes only in white gold on the grounds that the bezel is simply excessively troublesome and expensive to make in the value range and in the volume of steel GMTs. In view of what I found out about assembling shaded pottery, I’ll venture to such an extreme as to state the wellspring of the issue is in the colors used to shading it as shades don’t take the warmth needed to create earthenware very well and frequently structure defective territories in the surface. The “Batman” or “BLNR” is a cutting edge steel GMT that has a bi-shading artistic bezel, however with two simpler to-deliver colors. Alright, we got very diverted/p>

All this was to state that steel Daytona supplies have been reliably restricted likely in light of the fact that it has a development that was maybe still is exceptionally troublesome and costly to create up to Rolex guidelines at steel Rolex value focuses – regardless of whether the Rolex Daytona 116520’s retail cost has truly nearly multiplied somewhere in the range of 2000 and 2015.

Some Food For Thought Concerning The Daytona’s Allure – And If It’ll Last

Cutting directly to the pursuit, the Rolex Daytona 116520 changes its appears as though barely any different watches do: it can rapidly (and without notice!) change from being quite possibly the most adaptable, exquisite and energetic watches to perhaps the most exhausting and narcotic watches. I wish I didn’t need to, however feel like I ought to, so I’ll state that plan inclinations and the impacts of a watch’s stylish are down to individual inclinations, so your experience may contrast from mine – yet I will say there’s a decent possibility that some time into wearing the steel Daytona you’ll come to a comparative resolution as mine.

The Daytona gives one obviously notorious tasteful and observing a bit of that can feel both fulfilling and infirmative. Here’s my issue with it: most famous plans that you see gazillions around you are possibly valued by lifelong fans and devotees whenever said plans have captivating subtleties and various factors. Think about the 911, for instance. It’s all over the place, yet you can change its particular, also different extraordinary versions, restricted creation runs, mechanical varieties and different variables; thus, while an extensive level of 911 drivers might be hurrays who think nothing about the vehicle, genuine lovers stay steadfast on the grounds that there are consistently subtleties that they find fascinating.

This steel Rolex Daytona 116520, over its 16-years, I feel, has neglected to bring to the table an invigorating scope of captivating subtleties – not to mention offer large numbers of them. In any event, following the chronic numbers and creation years have been murdered off in 2011 with the presentation of callous irregular serials. Rolex’s motivations to keep things this extremely reliable are to be examined in a different article – on the grounds that this occurs for a couple of consistent reasons – however their aggregate impact on the steel Daytona proprietorship experience are a lot of pertinent here.

Throughout its since quite a while ago winged vocation, the steel Daytona 116520 has existed in two varieties, with a black-silver dial as seen here, and with a white-silver dial. That’s it, for a very long time. Attempt to envision the 911 Carrera appearing to be identical for 10 years, and coming in only two tones. Indeed, the (mind you, generally covered up) development has been changed all the more precisely by Rolex a year or so ago… but then, regardless of how striking that accomplishment is, it is truly very hard to acknowledge consistently, in any event, for the nerdiest of watch enthusiasts.

Even with this aside, let’s state you take a gander at the steel Daytona, one that is so inescapable in large numbers of the more prosperous pieces of the world, and you ask yourself the inquiry: what do I find in it that I myself discovered, that minimal tasteful detail or highlight that lone I and few others can acknowledge, that can’t be seen from the opposite finish of the supper table or isn’t known by all the nouveau riche, who rock it with a straight face?


A uncommon event when the red Daytona text truly pops – positively adds a ton of energy and life to the dial.

Admittedly, the Daytona’s history and its profoundly effective (and replicated) plan, or its heavenly development are more than good. The inquiry that each imminent Daytona purchaser should ask (or, some time after buy will wish to have asked) oneself is whether wearing a plan so fabulously universal in the extravagance watch scene can be exceeded by these values.

I mean, sure, there will be the individuals who simply like the plan or potentially the brand and don’t need to consider the big picture in such detail – for them, the Daytona is an extravagance design symbol, completely unparalleled. Nonetheless, those searching for in excess of an attractive face, may state that we’re in 2017 and not in 2003, and today it is anything but difficult to wind up inclination ruined by the stronger-than at any other time competition that makes a decent attempt for sure to offer all the more either stylishly or actually in this $10k+ value range. We should add that Rolex does obviously offer legitimate slobber commendable stuff for watch geeks: the Sky-Dweller – that turned out to be significantly more moderate this year – is both novel and just madly all around designed, and the Datejust 41 ( reviewed ) is superior to it has ever been… But the steel Daytona, in comparison, is one foot before and one floating over present – and whether you need that for what’s to come is down to you to decide.

Design Specifics – A Familiar Sight

Screw-down pushers, huge, watched crown, energetic ish tachymeter bezel, a gleaming Rolex crown at 12, three uncommon sub-dials, a ton of text, and the three-interface Oyster wristband. You need not consider a portion of the absolute monsters other significant brands have put their name on in the mid 2000s to comprehend why the Daytona’s limited plan has matured so well.


Almost difficult to see, however the 3 and 9 o’clock sub-dials are really set a smidgen over the 3-9 focus line of the dial.

The extents are practically great. The manner in which the width of the dial goes with the size of the bezel, case, and the bracelet’s joins is right on the money, however the size of the sub-dials and their black internal circles are especially a created taste over the considerably more common strong sub-dials. I do wish there was a steel Daytona with strong shaded sub-dials and was kind of disillusioned by the 2016 redo in such manner. Note that until 1988 the Daytona had strong sub-dials, so it wouldn’t precisely be blasphemy to bring them back on the steel model – gold variations ( active here ) do have them and look much better, to my eyes, at least.

The Triplock screw-down crown is enormous and henceforth simple to work – something that can’t actually be said of the pushers. As seen on the image above, they are hard to snatch and when you begin turning, the watch wobbles on the wrist, making this screw-unscrew activity considerably more irritating. Bigger pushers do look less exquisite, yet they sure are simpler to utilize. Despite the fact that their material criticism is consoling, it isn’t anything to think of home about.

Neat bends, pleasantly incorporated arm band and hard to get, yet rich pushers. That bended, cleaned drag is a sight to behold.

Interesting to note are the bended hauls of the Rolex Daytona 116520: on the off chance that you look for the sentimentality gave by the flawlessly bended carries of old Rolex cases (rather than the cumbersome shoulders of the “Maxi case” on the new Submariners), the Daytona will probably offer what you’re searching for. The delicate bends in the strong 904L tempered steel feel incredible to the touch and work pleasantly with the last part of the ’90s/early ’00s vibe that the unobtrusive lines of the Daytona produce so effortlessly.

The bezel no uncertainty was deserving of an update: the metal shows up stepped and the surface on occasion lopsided – the manner in which its markings are applied can’t measure up with the eye-watering sharpness accomplished through more current assembling strategies. The plan is notorious without a doubt, however there’s a scope of lighting circumstances and reflections when the steel bezel neglects to put its best self forward. The clay bezel isn’t just significantly more present day, yet in addition higher caliber in its execution – also its obstruction against scratches. The “steel Daytona look” will ostensibly be complete just with a steel bezel – yet know that sentimentality, with no guarantees so regularly the case with vintage watches, comes at a cost of fairly sub-par nature of execution when compared to the most recent and greatest.


Good, yet barely incredible. The front gem shows smears and fingerprints like not many different watches do, something that is additionally intensified by the black dial. In the event that you’ve ever claimed a black vehicle in a stormy spot, you’ll understand what I mean. All things considered, the precious stone doesn’t dominate at executing reflections either – I assume this is valued by the normal client who appreciates the shimmering glare of the whole watch while giving it a shot in the store: the gem unquestionably helps as opposed to blocks reflectivity. On the off chance that the precious stone was bended, I would be all the more arrangement, however I have seen totally level gems cause me to fail to remember reflectivity even existed – and, thinking about the since quite a while ago run, I’d like the Daytona to have superb AR, instead of a light-show on its crystal.

…More reflections. When seen at a lofty point they’re gone – however reflections are a lot of present most of times.

We’ll talk about wearability and clarity in points of interest soon, so for the present we’ll simply say a couple of words regarding the dial and its highlights: there is no date, no GMT, no force save, only three hands mounted in the middle, and three sub-dials. The crown’s unmistakable situation at the 12 o’clock position breaks the moderate, profoundly reasonable topic – somewhere else around the dial you’ll find lumed lists. There is no lume on the sub-dials or their hands, so the chronograph stays neat just with sufficient surrounding light.

The hands are totally completely estimated, all are plentifully long and wide, so praise to Rolex for that. Their shading plans from the outset sight bode well, however in this all-inclusive review it stood apart to me how they now and again appear to fill in as such a disguise. They are similar essential tones as the dial and its components, and the primary hands’ colors are spread out such that when they are over the sub-dials (let’s state when the time is 3:10, and so on) they make it trying to recognize them from the background.

Further over: the fundamental hands mix perfectly into the sub-dials. Simply above: white gold lists and hands, however the last could utilize a touch more volume.

White gold is utilized for the hands and lists on each Rolex (except if gold of another tone is utilized for the situation), and keeping in mind that they are gleaming okay and are pleasantly made, now and again they show up they could utilize some extra volume. Assembling methods have progressed in the course of the most recent 20 years and pieces as small as sub-dial hands we see made all the more complexly and with legitimate volume beneath this value point. Rolex doesn’t fabricate its own hands and since we have seen Rolex effectively make providers stretch their boundaries (think about the excessively complicated Oysterflex elastic lash from ongoing past), the provider of the hands should venture up their game too – particularly since we are into the five-figure value section here and basic stepped metal hands don’t truly cut it any longer, regardless of how pleasantly made.

A flawless detail that I could truly acknowledge was the way the focal point of the sub-dials was executed: close to the base of the hands there is a calculated part that can be seen with the unaided eye when the lighting is correct. Here you can truly see the thickness of the black paint and the plentifully applied finish over it – as far as sheen and profundity this is as near a polish dial as a lacquered dial can get. The red Daytona text adds that additional fly of shading this dial so severely needs – really awful that the content is little and dim red, to such an extent that most of the time it can’t be seen either for the smeared precious stone, the hands shutting it out, or the lighting not being simply