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WATCH REVIEW Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116520

Editor's opinion
79 / 100
Some wait for it for several months; others buy it more expensive in second-hand shops than new...If a Rolex unleashes passions, it is the Cosmograph Daytona. We have tested it for you.
Straight to the Point

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 116520

Ref.: 116520
$8,265.00 US retail price October 20th, 2010
  • a “mythical” watch for the Rolex’s enthusiasts
  • a trustworthy and well-conceived movement
  • the quality of manufacture
  • an excellent quoted value on the second-hand market.
  • the overabundance of literature of the dial
  • a perfectible legibility
  • the internal finishing of the clasp
  • a watch that might not go unnoticed
Brand Rolex
Model name
Cosmograph Daytona 116520
Case material
Steel 904L
Case diameter (without crown)
40 mm
Case diameter (crown included)
42,84 mm
Movement type
Base Caliber
Sapphire glass
Power reserve
Transparent back
Lug width
20,13 mm
Length from lug to lug
46,33 mm
Case thickness
12,34 mm
Strap material
Steel 904L
Clasp type
Deployment clasp
Clasp material
Steel 904L
Total weight
138 grammes
Retail price USA at October 20th, 2010
Comfort (/15) 15
Movement (/20) 14.5
Movement Optimisation / Garnishment (/5) 4
Ease of handling and adjustment (/5) 5
Movement control proceeded by the Manufacture / horlogical awards (/3) 2
Power reserve (/2) 1.5
Complications (/5) 2
Finishing (/20) 14
Dial finishing (/6) 5
Case finishing (/6) 5
Quality of garnishment / caseback engraving quality (/2) 0
Crystal quality (/4) 2
Clasp finishing (inner and extern) (/2) 2
Functionality (/20) 15.5
Diurnal legibility (/5) 4.5
Night legibility (/4) 4
Water resistance (/3) 1
Strap : ease of size adjustment + ease of substitution (/4) 2
Clasp : quality and safety (/4) 4
Additional items (/10) 5
Limited edition (/3) 0
Watch delivered with several straps (/2) 0
Quality of the watch box (/1) 1
Portability with shirtsleeves buttoned (/2) 2
Goodies included (/1) 1
Understandability of the brochure (/1) 1
Value for money (/15) 15
When to wear it ? For a weekend in Miami Beach!
Users opinion
like this watch
Do you like this watch?

Rolex Daytona

The Daytona collection was launched at the beginning of the 1960’s.

If its success has first been uncertain, it has not stopped growing since to make the Cosmograph Daytona becoming the emblematic chronograph of Rolex.
Proof of this being the astronomical values that reach nowadays the vintage models, that cannot be found for less than €20,000 (References 6239, 6263, or 6265, to name but this three models).

Today, the model made of steel is the most wanted.
But its “scarcity”, carefully kept by Rolex, leads to an overprice on the second-hand market, where the prices are often higher than the prices of new items.

Please note you also the Rolex Daytona Ceramic Bezel review.


An excellent quality of manufacturing
But a basic case

First assessment, this Daytona is undoubtedly a Rolex: the quality of the case and the dial’s realization is excellent, but unadorned. And even basic as far as the case is concerned.

The whole is very sober – regardless of this invasion of literature on the dial.

The case is completely polished and only a slight guilloche work of the chrono counters breaks a little the uniformity of the immaculate white dial – that could almost be taken for enamel.

Around the wrist, the comfort of this Rolex watch is excellent, thanks to a reasonable diameter and to a surprisingly contained weight.


The movement: Caliber Rolex 4130

After using various outsider movements (like the famous Zenith’s El Primero), the Daytona is, since 2000, equipped with the 4130 movement, first and unique chronograph caliber produced by Rolex.

The 4130 has been conceived to offer an unfailing reliability with a total of component reduced to the maximum (to 290, the idea being to reduce to the minimum the chances of failure) and a shockproof and antimagnetic Parachrom spiral (recognizable thanks to its blue color).

Very easy to handle (the release of the chronograph is sharp but smooth), the 4130 is really the major asset of this watch.
Its decoration remains primary. But it is anyway hidden behind a full back…


The screwed push-buttons of the chronograph (unscrewed on this photo), part of the model's identity, are esthetically very well realized.


The functionality of the Rolex Daytona

The screwed push-buttons of the chronograph, part of the model’s identity, are esthetically very well realized. Just count the amount of manufactures that has borrowed the concept to Rolex for a long time as a proof.

But a mythical watch is not always synonymous with a perfect watch.

Thus, the functionality of these push-buttons could be improved, the daily use of he chronograph being quite tedious: the two push-buttons have to be unscrewed then screwed back in order to operate the chronograph.

As for the readability is not always optimum.
At night, the hands are desperately short of luminous material to be perfectly legible.
In the daytime, the reflections of the untreated anti-reflection sapphire glass make the hands sometimes a little bit difficult to make out.

Another regret: the folding clasp does not benefit an internal finishing worthy of a watch of such quality…

What to remember

Purchasing a Cosmograph Daytona, is like acquiring a mythical watch and a fantasy realm – not to say an iconic object – for many watch enthusiasts.

It is also about accepting an immediately recognizable watch among other kinds, which will not suit those who are looking for discretion.

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