There’s no hotter watch right now than the Rolex Daytona – and it’s been that way for quite some time now. When it comes to vintage watches, Rolex is king (at auction and in private), and the Daytona is the most varied and collectable Rolex of all. Whatever your thoughts are on this, facts are facts. Which brings us to a valuable lesson: Knowing your stuff is extra important, whether you’re looking to wade or to dive into the world of vintage Daytonas. Tiny things can be the difference between a $50,000 watch and a $500,000 watch.
A lot of attention gets paid to the flashy Paul Newman Daytona models, but if you’re looking for something to study that’s a little more understated, we’ve got a suggestion for you: the very first Rolex Daytona. Released in 1963, the earliest examples of the ref. 6239 Daytona are called “double-Swiss underline” Daytonas. The name refers to the two “Swiss” signatures you’ll see at the very bottom of the dial and the slim underline mark found under “Rolex Cosmograph” at 12 o’clock. There’s no “Daytona” on the dial, so if you’re looking for that, you can stop. Back in 2013, Ben wrote an detailed history of these often-misunderstood chronographs, offering tips for properly identifying them, comparisons to other watches of note, and thoughts on collecting them. It’s even more relevant now than it was then.