Originally Posted by rnguy001
Ha, I can see why you would think that, but truth be told I have a huge amount of respect for Rolex. In fact over the last year I've come to really appreciate them even more. I can't say a bad thing about the brand as a manufacturer. True, aesthetically many of their models don't speak to me the way they do to others, but I really hold the brand in high regard.
I would've much preferred his El Primero Steel Daytona over the gold Sub personally. I admit I don't have the knowledge to appreciate all the subtleties in the different dials and what makes them rare though. I was a little nervous watching him wear the gold Sub during that trial week - in one shot, he was wearing a bracelet with the metal clasp almost rubbing against the watch! Seems a no-no for a trial run!
I was thinking the same thing; the 18K Submariner is great in its own way, but I think the Zenith Daytona, especially in stainless, is a much more practical choice as the mythical "one watch", as well as being more inherently interesting.
An 18K '80s Submariner on bracelet can be completely bad-ass for those who can pull off the look, or as a special-occasion piece for mere mortals. But as a daily wearer, I'm not so sure... plus it's a bit compromised from a purist's standpoint. The 4030-movement Daytona doesn't have the cognitive dissonance factor of a precious-metal diver's watch. Not saying that I wouldn't love an 18K Sub (or better yet, older GMT), just that I probably wouldn't dump a 16520 and a nice steel Sub (can't remember if was plus cash in this case, but I bet it was) for one.
Regarding that generation of Daytonæ, my local watchmaker friend spent three weeks this June at Rolex's advanced course in Geneva, where one of the calibres they covered was the 4030 — along with the OysterQuartz, but that one deserves its own post as it's an under-appreciated gem of a watch. He talked about how much he enjoyed learning about and working on the modified Zenith movement, and how much his appreciation for it has increased after getting training straight from the mothership. He considers it to be one of the best examples of classic horizontally-coupled chronograph construction ever produced from a design standpoint, and the modifications that constitute 50% the base-movement parts make it an even more refined and reliable movement than the quite-good-on-its-own standard El Primero. Zenith has gradually phased in some of Rolex's refinements to its current-production versions as well; that was news to me. He said that he has rarely felt as satisfied as a watchmaker as when he was doing the course work on that one, and that he looks forward to having them on his workbench more than ever. No wonder they were so hard to get at retail; quite a bit of traditional watchmaking effort went into each one. The newer one is an "engineering masterpiece" in his opinion, but relies far less on traditional methods for its manufacture.
While on the subject of classic chronographs, another detail that I remembered from our conversation was the description of some of the subtler ways that a high-grade chronograph movement, such any produced by Patek Philippe, differs from one that's less finely finished; the switching mechanism for the chronograph wheel is hand-filed to as fine of a tolerance as possible to minimize the jump of the seconds hand when the system is engaged. However, the current Patek chrono movement instead uses a vertical clutch, which completely eliminates any jump. I guess you kind of have to be a watch geek to give a crap about this stuff, but I really enjoyed the conversation.
So yes, I figure that the show's narrator probably should have kept the 16520 as well. But it just goes to show the inherent irrationality of the game, and as much as we try to analyze it from a rational standpoint, it's subjective in the end. The piece certainly did a good job of showing the capriciousness and emotional elements that exist. Plus it's not difficult to understand the appeal of an old-school Submariner in gold; they look tremendous in person.
Returning to Zenith movements, I recently got to talking to someone who was sporting a Vintage 1969 El Primero in 18K, and it was simply a knockout. What a sculpture; the statement that really stayed with me from the Tom Bolt feature was that "watches are for wearing", and this one was absolutely great on the wrist:Zenith Vintage 1969 chrono in 18K (Click to show)