A fine, early and very rare stainless steel automatic chronograph wristwatch with "Floating Cosmograph" dial and bracelet

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1988
    Reference No: 16520
    Movement No: 13'573
    Case No: R'884'493
    Model Name: Cosmograph Daytona "Floating Cosmograph"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 4030, 31 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Oyster bracelet stamped "503" and "78360" to the endlinks, max length 185mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp stamped "M5 and 78360"
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Reference 16520 is among Rolex's most 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, a result of Rolex perfecting the architecture of the timepiece possibly following “real world” feedback.

    The earliest specimens - such as the present watch - 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.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    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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Rolex

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

1988
40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

Estimate
CHF30,000 - 50,000 
€27,600-46,000
$30,000-50,000

sold for CHF56,250

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East
+ 41 79 637 1724
aghotbi@phillips.com

The Geneva Watch Auction X

Geneva Auction 9-10 November 2019