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A Tough Choice: A Gold Submariner or a Steel Daytona?

April 28, 2016

BY Paul Altieri


Among the range of Rolex sports models, two of the most famous are the Submariner and the Daytona. And these two particular models couldn’t be more different from each other. A 18k yellow gold Submariner diver’s watch and a stainless steel Daytona chronograph inspired by motorsports. Though both models are no longer part of Rolex’s current catalog, having been discontinued for newer versions, they are still highly sought after and cherished for their enduring style. Here we take a look at the Submariner ref. 16618 and the Daytona ref. 116520.

Submariner Daytona

Rolex Submariner ref. 16618 and Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116520

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Rolex Submariner ref. 16618

Unveiled during the late 1980s, the Submariner ref. 116618 was the brand’s ultra-luxurious version of their famed diver’s watch. Fashioned entirely in 18k yellow gold, the ref. 16618 is available with either a black dial and black bezel or a blue dial and blue bezel. The example here features the classic black bezel and dial configuration, complementing the yellow gold flawlessly. The center Mercedes-style hands and hour markers are luminous for legibility in low light, while the date window sits — as with all Rolex date watches — at 3 o’clock magnified by the Cyclops lens.

Submariner Daytona

Rolex Submariner ref. 16618

The 40mm Oyster case is outfitted with the Triplock winding crown, thus the watch is waterproof to 1000 feet (300 meters). Furthermore, not only does the sapphire crystal above the dial keep the water out, but it’s scratch proof too. The polished center links of the yellow gold Oyster bracelet is a great contrast to its outer brushed links.

The ref. 16618 was eventually discontinued in 2010 to make way for the latest yellow gold Submariner — the ref. 116618 with a ceramic bezel.

Rolex Daytona ref. 116520

Introduced in 2000, the stainless steel Daytona ref. 116520 quickly became one of the brand’s most popular sports models, with some waitlists stretching to over two years. Its full stainless steel construction, from the 40mm Oyster case to the tachymetric engraved bezel to the Oyster bracelet, is particularly sporty. The ref. 116520 is offered in two versions: one with a white dial as seen in this example, and the other with a black dial. The sleek white dial offers a cleaner look, with the three silver registers and red “DAYTONA” label contrasting with its background.

Submariner Daytona

Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116520

When the Daytona 116520 was launched, it came equipped with the new Rolex Caliber 4130, which led to some changes on the watch in comparison to older versions. First, as the mechanical chronograph movement was thinner than previous models, so was the watchcase of the Daytona. Secondly, the positions of the small-seconds indicator and chronograph hour counter were inverted to 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock, respectively. And lastly, the Daytona now boasted 72 hours of power reserve over the previous 54 hours.

While the Daytona ref. 116520 was, and remains to be, supremely popular, as of this year it is no longer in production due to the launch of the new Daytona ref. 116500LN. Similar to its predecessor, the stainless steel and black ceramic Daytona ref. 116500LN was easily the hottest watch of the year with insanely long waitlists forming at Rolex boutiques all over the world.

Choosing between a stainless steel Daytona and a yellow gold Submariner is a tough one since both are iconic to the brand thanks to their impeccable aesthetics and technically sound mechanics.




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