Rolex Daytona 116520: The Most Popular Luxury Chronograph Watch

The Rolex Daytona 116520 has been launched for over 20 years. It has gained massive popularity since its debut in 2000 until its successor Rolex 116500 debuted in 2016. Since then, the steel Daytona 116520 has not only been a precious model that becomes growingly difficult to obtain, but also an icon model among luxury chronograph watches.

History of Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

The Rolex Daytona collection made its debut in 1963. It became popular quickly after the actor Paul Newman had been spotted with a Daytona 6239. This specific watch has become a legendary watch that has been sold at auction recently for $17.8m. 

Featuring a tachymetric scale, 40mm case size, & wide variety of metal options, the Cosmograph Daytona is a highly sought-after chronograph, both new & used. Before its launch, Rolex registered the “Cosmograph” name in 1955, and introduced a solid-looking Cosmograph watch 6238 in 1961 without “Daytona” in the name. In 1963 Rolex launched the first official Cosmograph Daytona reference 6239. It was commonly called “Daytona” after Rolex’s association with the Daytona International Speedway began in 1962. It is the first generation of Rolex Daytona watches that offered both metal bezels and acrylic bezels. 

The second generation of Rolex Daytona 16520 was introduced in 1988 and in production until 2000. The Rolex 16520 is often called “Zenith Daytona” as it was equipped with the caliber that was based on the Zenith El Primero movement. 

What You Should Know about Rolex Daytona 116520

Rolex 116500

Launch of The Rolex 116520

In 2000, Rolex launched the Daytona 116520 as the third Daytona generation. It has made a remarkable update with a fully in-house Rolex calibre 4130. The reference 116520 Rolex watch has made some minor aesthetic modifications on the dial compared to Rolex 16520. It became one of the most in-demand luxury chronograph watches of all time. The waiting lists for it started to span years, and the Rolex Daytona prices on the secondary market skyrocketed. 

Why Rolex Daytona 116520 Became a Popular Model

Year 2000 witnessed the debut of the Rolex Daytona 116520. There are two main reasons for its overwhelming popularity. First of all, it is well known for its in-house Rolex 4130 caliber. It was big news to the Rolex fans because it marked the transition for Daytona watches from a Zenith El Primero based movement to a complete in-house Rolex movement. 

Rolex caliber 4130
Source: Rolex Official

The Rolex 4130 is an incredible caliber that it was one of the lowest component count automatic chronograph calibers on the market. It has just 201 parts in total that is much less than some 3-hand automatic movements out there. Rolex Daytona 116520 is the first chronograph watch that housed the first Rolex in-house caliber. It raised many discussions between the watch lovers and further strengthened the prestige status of Rolex chronograph watches. 

Besides, it started to develop part of Rolex culture – the stainless steel sports model. The steel Daytona 116520 is a more casual looking and sportier chronograph than its other family members. It made it easier and practical to wear on a daily basis. On the other hand, the steel version gave the opportunity for Rolex to set the Daytona price for customers in different ranges and allow them to get this limited edition in hand.

Features of Rolex Daytona 116520

The steel Daytona 116520 has two variations, one with a black-silver dial, and the other one with a white-silver dial. As mentioned, this Rolex watch is powered by an in-house automatic chronograph movement with 44 jewels. It is a Swiss made Rolex Certified Chronometer. This powerful caliber is housed in a 40mm stainless steel case made of the highest quality Rolex steel. The bezel is also high polished steel with a sporty tachymeter scale engraved around it. 

As for wearability, the Rolex Daytona 116520 comes as a compact package with 40mm wide, around 47mm lug-to-lug and 12mm thick. It is about the same thickness with a Rolex Submariner. Both watches are also equipped with a Triplock screw-down crown which is easy to operate. The Daytona also contains a depth rating of 100m or 330ft with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. It has a laser-etched coronet located at 6:00 as a security measure to distinguish whether a Rolex is genuine or not. Beneath the glass, there is no date window, no GMT and no power reserve display featured on this Daytona. The dial sits with silver rings circling three subdials. The second hands are placed at 6:00, the 30 minute dial is at 3:00, and the 12 hour indicator at 9:00.

Comparison: Rolex 116520 vs Rolex 116500

Rolex 116500
Rolex 116500

Around 16 years after the launch of iconic Daytona 116520, the new Daytona 116500 was introduced as its successor. Both the Rolex Daytona 116500 and the Daytona 116520 offer two variations, with either a white dial or a black dial.

The design of the new Daytona 116500 and the preceding Daytona 116520 share quite a lot of common traits. Regarding the material, they’re both stainless steel models made by Rolex 904L steel. They are highly resistant to corrosion and have a fantastic sheen. 

Besides, both Daytona 116520 and 116500 have a 40mm Oyster case equipped with screw-down pushers, the Rolex Triplock screw-down crown, and a fluted caseback to maintain 100m depth water resistance. 

Rolex 116500
Rolex 116500

The most visible difference between the Daytona 116520 and the 116500 should be their bezel. The old steel Daytona, Rolex 116520 features a steel bezel engraved with the tachymeter scale. On the other hand, the new steel Daytona Rolex 116500 comes with a black Cerachrom ceramic bezel. The Cerachrom is said to be scratch resistant and received overwhelming responses from Rolex lovers all over the world.

To date, many of Rolex’s steel sports watches, like the new versions of Rolex Submariner, Rolex GMT Master II and Yacht Master II, would feature the incredible ceramic bezel. Before the launch of 116500 however, only gold and platinum versions among the Daytona watches were available with a ceramic bezel. So when the new steel Daytona 116500 was finally introduced with the long-waited Cerachrom ceramic bezel, it was a mega hit on the market.

Wrap Up

Although the Daytona 116520 is no longer in production after the launch of its successor, it still remains its popularity in the secondary market.  It offers the classic and iconic Rolex Daytona image that will always be admired.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.