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By-Tor

Review of Rolex Daytona "Seconds at 6"

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First, I want to say that this isn't my watch, it was sent to me for a review by a fellow member ***Stephane***. I always wanted to buy one of these, but because of the infamous movement setup (more about that later) I have always backed down. But I definitely wanted to photograph and review this famous replica for the community.

There is no proper "FAQ" of the Daytona 116520, although it's one of the most requested watches among the new members. Let's change that. Stephane was generous enough to borrow his Daytona for this exact purpose. Big thanks!

Read Stephane's original pictorial of this watch HERE. That review includes some remarkably good photos.

If I ever had a favorite in the Daytona lineup, it was this exact model: White dial with silver/champagne subdial circles and hands. The "2001 model", to be exact. It has very understated and "low key" look. White SS Daytona isn't a flashy watch. It's probably not something that non-watch people would ever notice. But somehow, that's exactly why this particular model is so attractive. Apparently this is the case among the collectors too: white dial stainless version is hands down the most desirable version.

If I had to use just one word to describe this Daytona, it would be "classy". A term that watch people have rarely connected to the recent Rolex models and releases.


THE FIRST IMPRESSION:

Before this I have never seen a Daytona "in the flesh", not genuine or a rep. It has such a legendary status in the watch world, so I was curious to see how it looks and feels. Say what you want about reps, but the high end ones are perfect for that. Anyone who considers to invest $7-10K on a genuine could benefit from reps that way. Wear it for a few months and see if it really is the right watch for you.

When I opened the package, I noticed that Stephane had included two extra links for me (in case I wanted to try it on). There was also the Daytona user manual and some other niceties. Certainly something that I could use in my photo setups.

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The first surprise was the size. Of course I knew the diameter was the standard 40 millimeters, but it was still quite shocking to realize how small the Daytona was. I have been wearing my new Aquaracer Chronograph a lot lately, and compared to that, Daytona looked more like a mid-size watch. I can't help but notice that it also looks a bit "old fashioned", next to Aquaracer. To be honest, I'm not that impressed with the Daytona.

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It wears considerably smaller than a Sub and GMT Master. Mainly because of the smooth bezel shape, and because the bezel edges just barely exceed the lugs.

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It's certainly true: When you get used to bigger watches, the small ones start to feel a bit strange. But then again, Daytona is definitely not too small to wear, it's just "compact". Actually the size is perfect for men with smaller wrists. It would probably look cool on ladies as well.

On the other hand, back in the seventies and eighties all sports Rolexes were considered bulky and huge. And many older people still consider them "big". Maybe these things go in cycles.


THE MOVEMENT:

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The single most important article about this replica Daytona has been written by Ziggyzumba. His review and breakdown of the exact movement (that's used in this watch) is HERE. (Available for RWG VIPs only).

When Rolex replaced the Zenith El Primero motor with an inhouse 4130 chronograph movement in 2000, they moved the running seconds to '6.

When the replica factories released this arrangement, it was first considered a small miracle. But soon the members' problems with this movement started to arise. The natural subdial arrangement of ETA/Asian Valjoux is 12-9-6. So making the replica function visually like the Rolex caliber 4130, the 7750 had to be forced to run in an unnatural evinronment. Transforming the seconds from '9 to '6 has been achieved by adding 11 extra gears to the movement. (Read Ziggy's fascinating review for more detailed explanation).

This modification is potentially very problematic. Some members have reported that their Daytonas have been working flawlessly for a year or two, but many members have suffered from various problems only after weeks or months (or even days) of use. Stephane's watch seems to be running flawlessly (at least for now).


THE ALTERNATIVES:

1. Build a Zenith El Primero Daytona frankenwatch
This is very expensive and hardcore option. Except to use 2-3 thousand dollars for a project like this. Ubiquitous have done it (among very few other members). Ubi actually built two amazing El Primero-powered Daytonas. They're very famous watches in the community, and without a doubt the best Daytona "reps" we have ever seen.

Read about the work-in-progress project HERE.
Read about the finished products HERE.
Read Ziggy's excellent and detailed review of the legendary chronograph movement "El Primero" HERE.

2. Buy an older "seconds at '9" Daytona replica
This is the cheaper option. There are older replicas of the Daytona, that have running seconds at '9. This arrangement tries to copy the older Zenith El Primero-powered Daytona (the model that Ubiquitous built). "Tricompax" layout (subdials at 9-6-3) is not a natural 7750 evinronment either, but this setup has been achieved by using only a few extra gears. The movements in these older reps are low beat 21.600 bph Asians, or Swiss ETA. These replicas are visually inferior to the seconds at '6 replicas, because the subdial spacing (and various other details) are way off.

3. Send it to Ziggy and kill the running seconds at '6
According to Ziggy, the only way to make this movement reliable is to completely kill the running seconds, and remove all the extra gears. Not very attractive option, imho.

4. Pressure the dealers to build a "faux" chronograph "seconds at '6" Daytona again
There have been cheap, but visually excellent Daytona replicas that had completely frozen and non-functional stopwatches. This weird but interesting watch was produced with the same high quality and accurate body of the 7750 version, but it had a standard Asian 21J movement. The seconds were running correctly at '6. Lately, the interest in this particular watch has been increasing again. Realistically, it should cost something between $90 and $120 to be attractive at all. NOTE: Don't confuse this version to cheap-o Asian 21J versions with faux chronos! The version I'm talking about had completely frozen stopwatch hand + subdials at '9 and '3.


These are the alternatives. Besides buying a genuine, of course.


ACCURACY:

The Daytona "seconds at '6" replica is fairly accurate, and the build and quality are excellent. The biggest flaws are the crown guards (which are only a bit off), pushers not visually 1:1, too deep rehaut and the fonts and text on the bezel. "UNITS PER HOUR" bezel text is probably the easiest to detect, at least from the big, zoomed pictures.

Other than that, the rep is excellent. The dial and hands have wonderful details and finish. It would be very difficult to tell between genuine and replica, at least for me. The screw-down pushers and crown operate smoothly.

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Actually, the dial is nothing short of amazing. This is very apparent when we put rep and genuine side-by-side in a detailed comparison. The rep is on the left, gen on the right (gen picture taken from John Holmbrook's Rolex Reference Page).

Some fonts are a bit off, and the coronet on the rep is a bit thicker and shorter. Other than that, fantastic. The concentric subdial circles might be more "matte" on the genuine, but I guess the difference is just due to different photograph lighting conditions. And it'd be certainly impossible to tell any difference without a loupe. Detecting a rep from someone's wrist: Nearly impossible.

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But if you feel that your default Daytona replica isn't accurate enough, and have a bit of talent, you might try improving the accuracy a little bit more.

Freddy333 is a Daytona fanatic, and he has figured out very clever way to build a "nearly perfect" 116520 Daytona. What's interesting about Freddy's method is that the watch gets entirely built from replica parts, which keeps the costs very low. Read his great article HERE.

CONCLUSION:

When people talk about Daytona, somehow the discussions always move towards the "time bomb" movement. Daytona seconds at '6 (at least the stainless steel version) is very good and accurate replica. This fact has often been forgotten.

Does it make any sense to buy one? Well, for people who are huge fans of Daytona... yes (maybe). You have to decide whether the benefits are bigger than risks. But then again, it's just $300... big money for some, pocket money for others. Personally, I would definitely buy one of the "faux chronograph" seconds at '6 models, if they ever become available again.

I'll send this watch back to my friend Stephane now. We had a good 3 days together. Personally, I don't even like the Daytona (as a watch) very much. But boy do I respect it. Thanks again for letting me see and review this beautiful rep for the community.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: I will not reply to watch/part/mod questions via PM from the members anymore. I'd love to help everyone privately, but my PM box gets flooded/spammed these days with these enquiries and I simply don't have the time. This is a hobby for me, not a job. Please ask your questions in the public forum where you have thousands of potential helpers. It's nothing personal. Thanks for understanding. By-Tor.

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:clap2: :clap2:

The whole review is classic By-Tor, and it's really difficult to add praise that sounds novel, or genuine, that you must not have heard before, my darling. But truly, thank you for this! Coincidentally, we are in the market again for a Daytona (this time in white) so it couldn't have come at a better moment.

About the photo which stood out for me. How long did it take you to size it, so that it was visually perfect?? Incredible compare-contrast photo, By-Tor. You rock.

(EDIT: STEPHANE TOO, THANKS! Fancy the thoughtful delicacy of adding links so that By-Tor could wear it. What a gentleman)

@By-Tor: Gotta get me a copy of Photoshop. I use Paint...

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Thanks Vic. Glad you liked the review.

Resizing the pic didn't take more than 60 seconds though... with Photoshop "distort" option. :)

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Wow, thank you and Stephane for the superb review.

Uncanny coincidence - I was just talking to a member on another forum about buying a 2005 silver/white dial Daytona from Ruby, I really love that model.

But the movement secs at 6 is VERY offputting, I really don't know what to do.

BTW, I have one of Joshua's inexpensive asian 21j Daytonas with the secs at 6 disabled, he had these on offer a goood 1.5 years ago, not worth it -really inaccurate subdials and very cheap looking.

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Thanks Vic. Glad you liked the review.

Resizing the pic didn't take more than 60 seconds though... with Photoshop "distort" option. :)

By-Tor,

sorry this is probably a really dumb question. What does this mean "I would definitely buy one of the "faux chronograph" seconds at '6 models, if they ever become available again".

Obviously this does not refer to the watch that you reviewed. Is it a model with a different mechanism?

Felipe 56

PS. My seconds at 6 Daytona runs like a dream. I have only had it 6 months so time will tell.

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Hi All, Hello By-Tor,

I'm right back from France after 6 hours driving :angry:

And here I see wonderfull pictures of my Daytona.

Wow, that is one more great review for sure.

You say: It's really difficult to package this beautiful watch now, and send it back to my friend Stephane. We had a good 3 days together.

I know you packed it already, but please feel free to keep it as long as you want ;)

I'm currently receiving Pam Straps ....so, the Daytona isn't going to have that much of my wrist time these days :blink:

Actually, I got this Daytona from Andrew back in december 2006.

Of course, due to my addiction for vintage Rolies, I did not wear it much, but this last weeks I discovered that it's a great watch to wear.

I have very small wrists so the 40 mm is absolutely perfect although, for me too, it feels very small after a week of Fiddy or UPO.

As for the movement, well it's a pity one can't hope it will last forever but so far, like many others, I have had no problem.

Maybe I should send it for service though...it could improve the longevity.

One question to By-Tor and experts: would a genuine 7750 be a fix ? I mean would it be reliable with seconds at 6 ?

Anyway, I was honoured that one of my watch was the base for a review of our master in reviews :thumbsupsmileyanim:

Cheers

Stephane

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Great review By-Tor! Great photos & informative review!

After read your review; I dig out my 116509 Daytona tomorrow. I leave it inside the box long long time ago.........

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By-Tor -- I would like to add a couple of comments to your otherwise excellent review of one of the most beautiful & accurate reps ever made.

First, I have seen at least 3 variations of the secs at 6 2001 Daytona. Each version has its own pluses and minuses and the buyer will need to decide which version looks best or more accurate to him or her. The version I have, which was purchased 3 years ago from a UK auction site and still runs +/-4 secs per day, has much more accurately shaped & sized CGs than the version Stephane (and Ubi) has, which are too wide and cover too much of the bottom of the crown compared to the gen. The CGs on my watch look almost exactly like the gen

http://i95.photobucket.com/albums/l127/fre...ip/Image3-1.jpg

(This picture was taken before I replaced the crown/tube with gen parts)

Second, the version I have has more accurate pushers & correct rehaut (note that there were at least 2 different pusher assemblies used on the gen Daytonas)

http://i95.photobucket.com/albums/l127/fre...ynip/Image2.jpg

http://i95.photobucket.com/albums/l127/fre...p/Image19-1.jpg

In contrast, Stephane's version has more accurate subdial placement (mine are too close to the 2 & 10 o'clock index markers

http://i95.photobucket.com/albums/l127/fre...ynip/Image5.jpg

At some point, I will purchase another watch like Stephane's and swap the dial for the one in my watch, so I will have the best of both worlds--a more correct case & dial & a working (backup) movement.

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BTW, I have one of Joshua's inexpensive asian 21j Daytonas with the secs at 6 disabled, he had these on offer a goood 1.5 years ago, not worth it -really inaccurate subdials and very cheap looking.

Ah... there might be more than 1 versions of the "cheapo", because I recall Kanerich said that there was actually one that used the same case as the 7750 versions. This watch was offered by the infamous Watchhonpo... so that rep is probably out there.

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By-Tor -- I would like to add a couple of comments to your otherwise excellent review of one of the most beautiful & accurate reps ever made.

First, I have seen at least 3 variations of the secs at 6 2001 Daytona. Each version has its own pluses and minuses and the buyer will need to decide which version looks best or more accurate to him or her. The version I have, which was purchased 3 years ago from a UK auction site and still runs +/-4 secs per day, has much more accurately shaped & sized CGs than the version Stephane (and Ubi) has, which are too wide and cover too much of the bottom of the crown compared to the gen. The CGs on my watch look almost exactly like the gen

Second, the version I have has more accurate pushers & correct rehaut (note that there were at least 2 different pusher assemblies used on the gen Daytonas)

In contrast, Stephane's version has more accurate subdial placement (mine are too close to the 2 & 10 o'clock index

At some point, I will purchase another watch like Stephane's and swap the dial for the one in my watch, so I will have the best of both worlds--a more correct case & dial & a working (backup) movement.

Excellent additions, thanks Freddy.

Yeah, I remember that particular replica of yours. All Daytonas actually had this dial, where the 10 and 2 hour markers touched the subdials. But if you look at the genuine black version you'll see the markers actually ARE closer to the subregisters. This is quite weird indeed. They're further apart on the white version.

See here:

http://www.blowers-jewellers.co.uk/images2...aytonaclose.JPG

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Hi All, Hello By-Tor,

I'm right back from France after 6 hours driving :angry:

And here I see wonderfull pictures of my Daytona.

Wow, that is one more great review for sure.

You say: It's really difficult to package this beautiful watch now, and send it back to my friend Stephane. We had a good 3 days together.

I know you packed it already, but please feel free to keep it as long as you want ;)

I'm currently receiving Pam Straps ....so, the Daytona isn't going to have that much of my wrist time these days :blink:

Thanks for this generous offer my friend, but I will ship it back to you on Monday. :)

One question to By-Tor and experts: would a genuine 7750 be a fix ? I mean would it be reliable with seconds at 6 ?

No, I don't think so. It's not the movement, it's the 11 extra gears that potentially cause the problems. But Freddy's watch has been working for years... who knows, maybe you're lucky with yours too. I have noticed that your watch has very good power reserve which is always a good sign.

Edited by By-Tor

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@ freddy...Ubi uses a gen case for his white faced daytona doesnt he?

Ubi uses gen cases for his 2 (Zenith-driven) 16520s, but his white 116520 has the original rep case like the one reviewed by By-Tor here. My case has different CGs and more accurate pushers & rehaut.

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Yeah, I remember that particular replica of yours. All Daytonas actually had this dial, where the 10 and 2 hour markers touched the subdials. But if you look at the genuine black version you'll see the markers actually ARE closer to the subregisters. This is quite weird indeed. They're further apart on the white version.

The tops of the subdials on my watch are almost touching the 2 & 10 index markers (which is inaccurate), while there is a bit more space on Stephane's watch as well as all of the gen Daytonas I have seen, including the one you posted above. And it drives me nuts, because that is the only real obvious mistake on my watch.

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I wish that there was a movement which could be substituted - because this is a great watch and one that I have always wanted to have. Not sure that I like the chrome in the bracelet (never liked too much chrome on any watch bracelet) but other than that it is an attractive piece.

However, secs at 6 is a major no no for me. I have no skills in watch fixing and don't want a eventual paperweight.

Good review, and enjoyable discussion on the previous versions.

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Hey BT, I just got down from a long weekend in the mountains and getting around to catching up on the posts. This is a long overdue review of the Daytona. I have also resisted getting the rep and have grown up in the forum reading about Ubi and Freddy's Frankens and can't help but admire the beauty. I'm just not sure I can deal with the size <_<

I've become a big-watch guy, I guess B)

Another teriffic contribution. Hats off to you and Stephane :thumbsupsmileyanim:

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Great review as always, magazine quality (and from my read of the recent watch magazines, they could use a few articles like this one...).

Thanks for taking the time to do up this very informative post for the members of RWG, great job.

RG

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Thanks gentlemen. Appreciated.

The rep really is thicker, which is a good point (that I forgot to add into my review). I guess it's due to the 7750 movement requiring thicker case...

I really fell in love with the white Daytona during the construction of this review. I'm almost willing to take the risk with the movement, but not quite. I'm hoping that the factories will come up with some sort of good solution in the future... or at least improve this modification somehow. Daytona is something that everyone should have in their collection.

This particular white dial stainless model is hands down the best looking modern Daytona ever. The black dial version (and the white gold variations) leave me cold.

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Thanks By-Tor and Stephane.... excellent review as always!

I am really lucky to say the Daytona never really got to me (not yet).

I know that Daytona is really a watch that makes peoples heads turn around...... I am sure it'll grow on me as soon as the price is right and the movement is fixed. But til then its great to have the info.

Hope to see more joint ventures in the future.

Edited by rolexsandwich

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I kinda missed this one BT, as I don't really spend a lot of time in the Rolex area. I do love the Daytona however, and would one day love to pick one up. Not sure if I would go for a vintage or new style though?

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Quite an important point to me and maybe other new forum members - where do you get them from?

plethora of sites selling reps on the web but as this review is of a watch that was actually purchased could someone tell me where from ?

Thanks

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