Originally Posted by rnguy001
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!
Well as an owner of a 16520 Steel Daytona with El Primero based movement, I have to say myself would not have made that trade. For me the SS Daytona with El Primero base was a grail watch, and took me a few years to locate and obtain at list price. Its not as practical as the current model (shorter power reserve, and the bracelet and clasp are not solid machine pieces), but I find the dial a tad more attractive and refined with the smaller lum markers, I prefer the continuous seconds placement at 9 rather than 6, and from what someone had told me years ago, there were so many modifications and improvements to the El Primero base, that is was really the closest thing to a hand made movement that Rolex was making at the time, or would ever make again. I do have the new Daytona also, and its a great watch, better in almost every way in terms of practicality, but there are certain nuances that will always make the El Primero based Daytonas special to me.
Originally Posted by Belligero
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.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
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)
Yes, it did cost the narrator his Daytona, a Sub, a Bell & Ross, and a Bvlgari, plus I believe cash because he said the 18K Sub was a bit beyond his budget.
Certainly interesting to hear about your watchmaker friend's impressions of the cal 4030 Daytonas and OYSTERQUARTZ. I own each in all steel and they are both fantastic pieces...although as your friend suggested the OQ is rather under appreciated (often quickly dismissed because it is a quartz watch). I probably would not have traded my a Daytona with cal 4030 toward a gold Sub, but everyone is different, and whether its the aesthetics of the all gold watch, its vintage style dial, its movement, or something else that appealed to him we don't know. In addition, sometimes people do get caught up in the newness of a piece they do not own. More telling as to whether it was a good choice for him, is whether there is follow up information as to what currently resides on his wrist. Does he still own the vintage gold Sub or is it gone and has he traded it for something else. Every now and then I've read stories on forums where someone sells/trades a watch to get a different watch, only to regret the sale or trade and we later find out that the person bought back or bought another example of the watch they traded (often at a higher cost than if they kept their original). Collectors can be finicky, fickle, and at times impossible to predict or understand...and perhaps that is what makes this hobby so interesting.