Birth of the greatest watch-making myth of all
The Watch Quote™ - February 20th, 2004
The tachometric scale engraved onto the bezel and counters in a different colour to that of the dial (black or more rarely brown on light coloured dials, mat white or brilliant sun, silver or white/cream on black dials.)
This colour contrast fulfilled the need to check time more easily in bad visibility, for example during motor races.
The oldest examples have a bezel for speed measurement with graduations of up to 300km per hour instead of 200, and silver counters on a black dial for the steel version. In some cases the T on
each side of the word “Swiss” are not present.
The two tiny letters sometimes present in the 6239 and in subsequent models next to the two Ts are Sigma (letter S in the Greek alphabet) to indicate that the dial, though belonging to a model in steel, had indices applied in gold, the standard of manufacture for all gold cases (14 or 18 carat).
• Production was obviously not adequate for the paranoia of today’s collectors and there is no written law saying that a 1964 example (with a case number hardly greater than a million) should include all the above elements.
All information should be read by relying on good sense, and when you value a watch it is always advisable to pay attention to the authenticity of the case, the back, the dial and the movement rather than to the colour of the counters or of the tachometric scale engraved to the bezel (always assuming that it’s the original)
• In many cases, dials and bezels have been replaced over the years, either due to damage, or according to the owner’s taste.
While on this subject, it is interesting to note what happened on the North American market when the 6239 arrived.
Official retailers delivered a number of pre-DAYTONA watches with the bezel and dial of the 6239, following customer orders. As the new model was not yet available, these brought up to date the previous models. The result is a watch that in the eyes of today’s collectors should be returned as soon as possible to its original condition.
ROLEX sponsored an automobile competition on this famous circuit and legend relates that an example in stainless steel was given to all the participants and a gold version to the winner of the race.
Before 1967, The DAYTONA inscription was at the top, under COSMOGRAPH with letters of varying size and /or separated from each other, but as from that year, it appeared on the counter at 6 o’clock.
As to the colour of the inscriptions for the models in steel, also taking into account successive models, it should be remembered that:
On the earliest black dials, the inscriptions were light in colour, either white or grey (in other words, the same or very similar to those of the minute counter and other words) and red on more recent examples.
You can also find dark inscriptions on the dials, brown or black for the earlier years, then later, red.