Rolex unveiled the first version of its famous chronograph, the Cosmograph Daytona, in 1963. The timepiece has received numerous updates over the years, the most significant of which is the ref. 116520 (produced from 2000 to 2016), which uses an in-house caliber from Rolex. All earlier models were powered by movements from other companies, the last one being the El Primero 4030 caliber from fellow Swiss watch manufacturer Zenith.
The Daytona ref. 116520 has a 40-mm case made of 904L stainless steel, also known as Oystersteel. With a lug-to-lug of 47 mm and a case thickness of just over 12 mm, this watch is quite flat by chronograph standards and fits under most shirt cuffs. Moreover, it features screw-down push-pieces and a crown guard. You'll also recognize the tachymeter scale on the steel bezel from other references. The watch is protected by a sapphire crystal and offers water resistance to 100 m (10 bar, 328 ft).
The dial, available in black or white, is almost identical to that of the preceding model. However, the position of the subdials had to be slightly altered to accommodate the new Rolex caliber 4130. Another difference is the small seconds; this subdial is now at 6 o'clock instead of 9 o'clock, as is the case on the El Primero Daytona.
Rolex pairs this reference with their celebrated three-piece link Oyster bracelet. The middle links are polished, which lends the watch an air of elegance. Unlike the Glidelock clasp seen on newer editions of the Submariner, among other timepieces, Rolex opted for its patented Oysterlock system with the Easylink extension for the clasp on the Daytona 116520. This means that you can easily extend or shorten the bracelet by 5 mm for a comfortable fit.
The Rolex Daytona 116520 is one of the most popular Daytona references ever, not least due to its in-house caliber. It is also the last model to feature a steel bezel. The ref. 116500LN, introduced in 2016, sports a ceramic bezel, which many fans consider to be too modern.
Prices for the Daytona 116520
- 37,500 USD – black dial (new)
- 35,000 USD – white dial (new)
- 28,500 USD – white dial (pre-owned)
- 26,500 USD – black dial (pre-owned)