Rolex Daytonas with “Floating” Dials

In the original, manual wind Daytona ranges there had not been a bicolour (steel and yellow metal) option. The bicolour Rolex Daytona Cosmograph shown below is one of the first of the new,self-winding models introduced in the late 1980s, using the Zenith-based 4030 calibre movement.  It came Miltons’ way in September 2015 :




It is a model 16523 made in 1988. The dial is an immaculate example of the rare Floating Cosmograph, that word being “orphaned” or floating free from the rest of the text above it. The inverted “6” on the hour totaliser (bottom sub-dial) and slightly unusual font for the numbers are to be expected on this early variant. These dial features distinguish the first examples of the automatic Daytonas from all that followed.

With any Daytona of this age we might expect to see very slight signs of damage to the sub-dial hands or even the dial itself caused by their removal and replacement during service, but it seems that this dial and hands had never been removed.

The early 200-unit bezel, the standard Oyster 78.363 bracelet date-coded “M8” (for August 1988) and the case-back sticker indicated that this watch had led a life of ease so far. It still met its original specification for water-resistance and time-keeping!




The accompanying instruction booklet above, itself date coded “3.1988”, beautifully shows the distinctive, similar dials fitted in all permutations of metal. The watch also had both swing tags, 1989-1990 calendar card, 16523 box set and original UK papers!

A “full set” watch is always especially sought after. Note the two stickers on the side of the box below, one bearing the 16523 model reference and the other, round, gold one corresponding to the so-called “champagne” dial:




We note with fondness how smart the old style of markings on the bezel are. The tachygraph detail it comprises evolved only slightly from this on later versions, including the revised 116523 (with in-house Rolex 4130 calibre movement). To our slight regret in Summer 2015 Rolex updated the bicolour Daytona with a new, overpowering style of bezel detail, which seems to bring imbalance and confusion to a watch which least needs it :




Buyers normally seek out any model bearing a new feature and our early experience shows it to be a commerical success. While it may not be to our taste, if you want this latest incarnation you should look for the 116503 model designation (the cleaner bezel design was last seen in the 116523).

The Miltons watch team, including Haywood Milton and two former managers of a Rolex main agent, have extensive experience of these and older Daytona models. Many are extremely desirable and we would be very happy to discuss your watch, without commitment.

Haywood Milton, July 2016



5 thoughts on “Rolex Daytonas with “Floating” Dials

  1. I have the exact 16523 “floating” with box and papers. Only difference is mine has the 225/250 bezel. How much are these worth now adays? Beautiful watch!

    1. Hello Broc, one of these might sell at a dealer for over £10,000 GBP now — but condition and completeness are everything. There are not many around, which means that the spread of prices can be more varied than it is for models where there are lots of examples available, from which precedents are taken. Congratulations, you have a rare piece!

      1. Thank you for the the reply! I recently bought a GMT and tossed around selling the Daytona but may hold onto it since they could possibly gain value since it comes w a complete set including all booklets. If there are any other owners out there with input I would love to hear about them!!

        1. Does anyone have an idea of how many daytona w floating dials were produced? I’ve looked far and wide but can’t find production numbers for them.. I’m sure mine is not near as rare as the porcelain dials but they’re all beautiful pieces in my opinion. Plus, it seems as if you see way less daytonas than subs, datejust etc…

          1. You won’t find any reliable production numbers for these and what is available in the market now will only give you a loose idea of the comparison….but the numbers are irrelevant to such established markets anyway. You cannot force a watch’s value higher than the market “because it should be, numerically.” Even as a dealer I found it hard to value our own 16523 with floating dial and found a such a variety, from tatty watches through to full sets in mint condition. Prices were largely “optimistic,” and many stayed unsold for many months. Those you can find available ARE still available usually for one reason: no one will pay their asking price! Using watches still available today as a price guide commonly leads people to over-value their own, which then also won’t sell. HM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *