Black Dial 6238 Rolex ‘Pre-Daytona’ Chronograph

This is a Pre-Daytona, but it’s way more interesting than it appears at first glance. This is the Pre-Daytona equivalent of a perfect Paul Newman: finding any 6238 with a black dial. For standard dials, the 6238 might hold the Rolex record for having the largest discrepancy between dial colors. The vast, vast majority of 6238 production was silver. And silver is, also, utterly gorgeous. But black dial 6238s are even harder to find than a great Paul Newman, sometimes even more valuable. But they refuse to shout; the black dial 6238 is utterly discreet, classic Rolex in design, and a total bombshell if you know what you’re looking at.


The 6238 was the final ‘Pre-Daytona’ reference before the 6239 and outer tachymetre we all know. It introduced to the Rolex chronograph baton hands, which remained for decades. There are 14 different iterations known, which have been helpfully chronicled by Le Monde Edmond. Some were even used by the FAP. The black dials were produced in pitiful quantities relative to silver, which is why they tend to fetch well over 100K US at auction these days. Even within these black dials, there is variation, typical of early/mid 60s Rolex. This is a matte dial, but there are gloss black dials with gilt print here too. When those do trade hands, it’s usually above Paul Newman/200K US values. These might look like a humble mid-60s chronograph, but they’re pretty serious today. And that’s part of the charm. And a yellow gold glossy dial, well, it’s almost sky’s the limit.

Interestingly, like all good vintage Rolex there is a little controversy, mostly around what the correct length of the minute hand should be but not just that. Some have a long hand that extends over the minute scale. Others, like this, fall short. Most think that the crossover happened at the end of production when the longer-handed 6239 was being sold concurrently alongside the 6238. Even more contentious is the Swiss. If you zoom here, you’ll see ‘-T SWISS T-‘. You’ll find other black dials without the ‘-‘ on either side. Now, no dashes is correct for gold. But on steel many think dash-less are service replacements. And the subdial hands are thinner than 6239s. Look, there’s much to research and learn in 6238, on par with PNs. In many respects, it is the humblest looking and yet deadly-serious collector chronograph in all of vintage Rolex. And this is one of the most attractive, quite rare dials you’ll find in 6238: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

This example looks mega too. The dial has a deep cream tritium, all printed script is clear and lovely. The hands are the shorter length, I tend to think correct, and definitely the right thin sub hands. The case is full, it’s an all-around lovely example. It comes from a well-regarded Dubai retailer.