For a while now, the end game for a lot of vintage watch collectors has always been ‘vintage Daytona’. Mythical, scary, and eye-wateringly expensive, the very utterance of the term vintage Daytona is enough to get the attention of the most hardcore collectors. Partly branding and partly due to its status as the pinnacle of Rolex, even till this day, the Rolex Daytona is the hardest watch to get at a Rolex AD, with waitlists going for years and only clients with a history of buying allowed to even be considered a place in the queue.
With vintage, it is the same story but both trickier and more rewarding at the same time. With a plethora of variants from the 6239, all the way to the 6265 and even more dial variants from something as recognizable as Paul Newman’s to murkier details such as underlines, double Swiss’s and Mk 1 pushers, vintage Datyonas have always been scrutinized and studied, ridiculed and admired.
While there are plenty of nitty-gritty details that are important for collectors to know, at the end of the day, the main appeal of the Daytona is that it is just a downright good-looking watch. Sized at 36.5mm with its iconic three sub-dial layout, it is a hard watch to study, but an easy one to appreciate. A collector friend of mine once said: ‘Once you go Daytona, you never go back’, referring to vintage ones of course. It’s easy to see why, as on the wrist there is nothing quite like it, with its elegant proportions and sporty presence. While there are other chronographs of the era that look similar, somehow, Rolex just got the little things right. As Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe famously said: ‘God is in the details.’
This particular example is one of the icons, as it is the first-ever Rolex Cosmograph Daytona reference- the 6239. Released at the same time as the Ref. 6241, the 6239 featured a stainless steel bezel as supposed to the 6241’s black acrylic bezel, a Pre-Oyster pump pusher case, and a beautiful three sub-dial layout. This particular example sports a classic Panda dial layout, with the other option at the time being a reverse panda as well.
While Daytona 6239s do pop up, it is hard to find examples that are in excellent condition. The watch you see here today is certainly that, with a beautiful silver brushed dial with perfectly preserved lume plots. Details aside, on the wrist, the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona 6239 is a joy to wear, with perfect proportions, and truly one of the ‘must-have’ pieces in watch collecting.