Rolex - The Geneva Watch Auction: XII Geneva Saturday, November 7, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1996
    Reference No: 16520
    Movement No: 111'824
    Case No: T'220'846
    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 210mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster deployant clasp stamped “V5”
    Dimensions: 40mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and clasp signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by original Rolex guarantee dated 8th November 1996 stamped Luigi Verga, 1997 – 1998 calendar card, instruction manual, plastic bezel protector, green card holder, hang tag, outer packaging and fitted presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Reference 16520 was Rolex’s first Daytona to house an automatic movement (based on a heavily modified Zenith ElPrimero caliber) At the time of launch in 1988, it quickly became a cult classic and garnered an immediate waiting list at Rolex retailers. Today, the Zenith Daytona has become an even more collectible watch due to its rarity, good looks and importance within the history of Rolex.

    The degree of desirability of the “Zenith Daytona” varies with the different dial variations that exist, and some iterations - such as the “Floating” ones, or the porcelain dials, or the “Four Liners” - have come to be recognized as supremely collectible timepieces. The most popular being the so called “tropical” dial where the registers have turned darker in color, the most coveted and rarest being by far the “Darth Vader” like the present example that features subdials with dark “espresso-like” hue earning its nickname inspired by the dark Sith lord. Extremely rare as these imperfections are natural occurrences, most examples feature an non uniform change in hue, making examples that are uniformed extremely desirable and scarce.

    In the manufacturing process of the dial, one of the factors contributing to the unique “tropical” effect lays on the varnish used at the time by Rolex. Applied on top of the silvered registers, the varnish for some examples were not applied equally and as such the silver section of the subdials changed colors going from a light caramel to black coffee. These changes have been witnessed in watches bearing S,N,T and W serials.

    The present example is in extremely well preserved condition, offered with its punched guarantee papers, box, and calendar card, it still features the green sticker on the caseback.
    The extreme rarity and superlative condition of the present “Dark Vader” make it a must have for the Daytona collector.

  • 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, well-preserved and rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with “tropical” registers, bracelet, guarantee and box

40mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and clasp signed

CHF40,000 - 80,000 

Sold for CHF151,200

Contact Specialist

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

41 79 637 1724

The Geneva Watch Auction: XII

Geneva Auction 6 - 7 November 2020