Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XV Geneva Saturday, May 7, 2022 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: Circa 1995
    Reference No: 16520, inside caseback stamped 16500
    Movement No: 91585
    Case No: W669868
    Model Name: Cosmograph Daytona “Darth Vader”
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 4030, 31 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped 78390, endlinks stamped 503B, max length 215mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster deployant clasp stamped V4
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex product literature, hang tag and presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    “You don’t know the power of the dark side!” said Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi back in 1983. Never would he or George Lucas have expected that these few words would resonate so much in the watch collecting community, decades later, looking at the present Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 16520.

    Released in 1988, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref.16520 was the firm’s first Daytona model to feature a self-winding caliber. Housing the reliable Zenith El Primero based cal. 4030, it was considered one of the best self-winding chronograph movements at the time. Twelve years later, it would be discontinued to be replaced by the ref. 116520 featuring Rolex’s own in-house self-winding chronograph movement cal. 4130. Being part of this rare and highly thought-after Zenith movement family, the present timepiece has more than one trick up its sleeve.

    Bearing a “W” serial number from circa 1995, the watch falls into the rare batch of “tropical” dials. Its three registers have turned from a silver colour to an intense dark brown, almost black hue, granting the watch the infamous name of “Darth Vader”. The type of lacquer applied during the manufacturing process has aged over time, and contributed to the unique “tropicalization” of certain S, N, T and W serial Daytonas' subsidiary dials. Extremely rare as these imperfections are natural occurrences, such dark example is extremely desirable and scarce.

    The intense tropicalization of the registers will surely impress the most discerning collectors who are seeking for a splendid specimen of this coveted reference.

  • 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, inside caseback stamped 16500
A very rare and attractive stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with “tropical” registers, bracelet and presentation box

Circa 1995
40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

CHF40,000 - 80,000 

Sold for CHF100,800

Contact Specialist

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

+41 22 317 81 81

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva

+41 22 317 96 63

The Geneva Watch Auction: XV

Geneva Auction 7 - 8 May 2022