Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIII Geneva Saturday, May 8, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1989
    Reference No: 16520
    Movement No: 14'459
    Case No: R'901'009
    Model Name: Cosmograph Daytona "Floating Cosmograph"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 4030, 31 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped "503" and "78360", max length 220mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped "RS7" and "78360"
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex punched Guarantee dated April 3, 1989, International Service Guarantee dated July 16, 2019, Bucherer service papers, fitted presentation box and outer packaging.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex reference 16520 is among one of the most distinctive and innovative models to date. Housing a heavily modified Zenith-based caliber 4030 mechanism, the model was fitted with the first automatic chronograph movement in the firm's history. At the time of its launch in 1988, the watch garnered an immediate waiting list at Rolex retailers – much like its descendant, the reference 116500LN would do in 2016. As it often happens with Rolex timepieces, one can notice a subtle but well-defined evolution of the dial design in the early years of the model.

    The earliest specimens feature five lines of script at 12, but the fifth line “Cosmograph” is noticeably more spaced from the 4th line, compared to the spacing between all the other lines. This gives the impression of the word Cosmograph floating away from the rest, thus its nickname “Floating Cosmograph” (or “Staccato”, as it is known to Italian collectors). Given its status as the earliest iteration of the dial and its supreme scarcity, this configuration is considered one of the most collectable versions of the Zenith Daytona. Successive evolutions consist in the removal of the 5th line of script - also a variation in production for a short time, followed by the re-introduction of the fifth line albeit with equal spacing. This is the final configuration of the script, but not the final evolution of the dial: all these iterations feature an “inverted 6” (that is: the 6 is written upside down) in the counter at 6 o’clock. In the early 1990s, after the introduction of the 5 lines configuration, the graphics are once again updated and the 6 is upside up.

    The bezel, just like the watch itself has its own peculiarities: it is the very first iteration for this reference with the tachymeter scale stopping at 200. Later iterations will see the scale go all the way to 400 (first, for a short while, featuring indications for 200, 225, 250, 300 and 400 units per hour; later, featuring a simpler layout with 200, 240, 300 and 400). The present watch is offered in incredible condition, with original Rolex Guarantee dated 1989 and fitted presentation box making it a unique opportunity for true Rolex aficionados to add a unique timepiece to their collection.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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Ref. 16520
A fine and very rare stainless steel automatic chronograph wristwatch with "Floating Cosmograph" dial, bracelet, guarantee and presentation box

40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for CHF81,900

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

41 79 637 1724



The Geneva Watch Auction: XIII

Geneva Auction 8 - 9 May 2021