16520 Dials

by Ed Delgado

In 1988, Rolex introduced a new model Daytona to the line up. This model replaced the not so popular and poorly selling (at the time) 6263/5 which were manual wind.

The new Daytona (16520) had a similar design but with some new improvements.. The biggest improvement was the new 4030 self winding movement which was based on a zenith movement which oscillated at 36,000 beats per hour but regulated to 28,800 by Rolex. This provided Rolex with an incredible accurate chronograph which was also up to chronometer standards in a well tried and proven movement. 


The other noticeable improvement was the new crown guards which was now very prominent and the new dial and subdial layout. The bezel was now only offered in steel.

This new attractive dial combination including the added bonus of a self winding movement was a big hit with Rolex customers and created a huge revival of the vintage Daytonas which were previously looked as a cumbersome and ugly.

Even today, the steel models are very sought after by collectors and enthusiast and demand a large premium.



There are five basic dials for the 16520

Mark I

This is common in the early watches with serial starting  with R (1988) and L(1989).

This is one of the more desirerable configurations with the word "Cosmograph" located lower in the dial or "Floating Cosmograph".   As a matter of fact, the whole text "ROLEX, Oyster Perpetual, Superlative Chronometer" is situated lower than the later dials.

The subdials use a rounded and smaller font.

The subdial  at the six o'clock position (hour totalizer), the number six is inverted and appears as a "9" and not as the intended "6".  This "defect" appeared in dials as late as 1994-5.

The subdial at the three o'clock position (minute totalizer), had four "dash" markings between five minute markers as opposed to later dials which only had three "dash" marks.

This is a tritium dial and is labeled  as "T SWISS T" at the six o'clock position.

This dial configuration was made for about one year.



Here is another 16520 Serial R with the black dial. As you can see, the same details are present in the black dial.

Photos below by B. Lembkey


Mark II

This dial was produced early for the 16520s. The major difference on this watch was the the word "Officially Certified" was left out of the dial even though the watch was rated as a chronometer. The word "Cosmograph" was now together with the rest of the writing on the top of the dial.

The subdials contained the same characteristics as the Mark I dial.

This dial configuration was also made for about one year.

Next 5 photos by Silverello



9 copia

11 copia

Mark III

This dial is very similar to the current production dials but the subdial fonts still has the inverted "6"s in the sixoclock subdial. The words "OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED" reappeared on the dials again.

Photo by Rasmus


Mark IV

Photo by C. Liotta

This dial was the most commonly used dial used on the 16520 and therefore the one usually associated with the watch.

This dial the writing was all together and was situated slightly higher than the original dials.

The fonts in all the subdials changed to a more square and bold font was was easier to read. As mentioned above, less "hash" marks were noted in the minute totalizers.

Photo by Raywu


Photo by Karl


Mark V

This is the same dial as the Mark IV dial but in 1999 (A) till the end of production in 2000 (P), luminova was used in the markers. Therefore, the dials did not have the "T SWISS T" and instead it was labeled as "SWISS" at the six o'clock position. The hands are also luminova.

There are some examples of (U) serial watches from late 1998 with luminova dials and SEL bracelets. These watches are correct. 



The movement

A zenith based movement that oscillates at 28,800 beats per minute. An absolute beauty to look at.


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