A Quick Comparison

Two Daytona Watches by Rolex

We have two special Daytonas here: one of them the Ref. 6239 and the other the Ref. 16520. The Ref. 6239, obviously an earlier watch, has a manual wind Valjoux movement. The much later Ref. 16520, commonly called the 'Zenith Daytona,' has an automatic movement manufactured by Zenith and re-worked and re-finished by Rolex.  The manual wind 6239 features a vintage 35mm case while the automatic 16520 features a modern 40mm case. The 6239 features pump pushers while the 16520 features screw down pushers.

'Daytona' stainless steel wristswatch, Ref 6239/0

'Zenith Patrizzi Daytona' wristwatch, Ref. 16520

 As you can see, they are both from the Daytona line with some very similar features; however, having been manufactured in different eras, they are thoroughly different watches. The question now becomes: which team are you on? Team manual 6239 or team automatic 16520?


In 1905, at age 24, German businessman Hans Wilsdorf founded a company with Alfred Davis called Wilsdorf & Davis in London with the goal of selling high-quality, affordable timepieces. Three years later, he and Davis registered the brand name Rolex in Switzerland with a singular vision: quality, good-looking watches. Wilsdorf created the first watch to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision in 1910. In 1914, he changed the name of the company to The Rolex Watch Company and several years later he moved their headquarters to Geneva, Switzerland, where the company remains to this day.

Rolex is likely the most recognizable watch in the world, and for good reason. The “Crown” (as it is affectionately called by collectors) it is in many ways the brand to which all other brands are compared. Rolex’s “firsts” are myriad and include the first waterproof watch in 1926 and the first self-winding mechanism in 1931. They are not the oldest watchmaker, nor are they the most exclusive, and certainly not the most expensive. However, when one thinks watches the first name that often comes to mind is Rolex, in large part due to it having been the timepiece of choice for athletes and adventurers.

In 1927, a Rolex Oyster made it across the English Channel on the wrist of swimmer, and in 1953, a Rolex survived Sir Edmund Hillary’s Mount Everest conquest. The dive into the Mariana Trench and the James Cameron Deepsea Expedition are two more examples of where a Rolex came out unscathed. The company also designed watches specifically for pilots, navigators, and world travelers.

It can be argued that every single model in the Rolex lineup is iconic, from the Submariner to the Daytona. For as long as Rolex has existed, the company has been synonymous with sport, adventure, luxury, and royalty. Some of the most famous names in history have donned a Rolex including Sir Winston Churchill, Paul Newman, and Roger Federer.

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