If you are beyond sick of the modern collecting Daytona hype (right there with you), don’t be so fast to turn away. In fact, I’m about to offer a viable, collectible, possibly even better-valued alternative. The now so-called neo-vintage range of 16520 and 116520 Daytonas are, to some extent, the last iterations with significant variations inter-reference. You have APH dials, ‘floating’ Cosmograph porcelain dials, panna dials, 225 tachys, and inverted 6 sub registers. Among the most desirable dial deviations stands the Patrizzi, and today’s example may in fact be the most Patrizzi’d Patrizzi I’ve ever come across.
Osvaldo Patrizzi was the Italian founder of famed auction house Antiquorum, notable Rolex collector, and prolific author on the subject. Black dial 16520s from 1994 to 1995 (with a few exceptions, this is one) used an organic type of varnish on their dial known as Zapon. The material did not provide the intended protective layer and, over the years, a combination of oxygen and UV light would react to oxidize the sub dial tracks and turn them a gentle golden tone. When the effect is extreme, you get an almost tropical-adjacent effect (but limited to just the silver sub dial ring). Mr Patrizzi was the first collector to recognize the shifting tones and, as a result, has the distinct privilege of have a dial variant named in his honor.
The underlying watch is no slouch either. The 16520 was issued in 1988, taking over from the 6263/5. It introduced an automatic calibre derived from Zenith’s 31-jewel 400 but highly modified in house, cased in 40mm steel. This example includes a latter steel bezel with tachymeter graduation up to 400. In addition, this generation still utilized tritium in its handset and indices, making a lovely cream contrast to the sub dial’s golden tones.
Discolorations which have run to this extent are simply quite rare. As values have risen, many sellers have begun to claim any watch from this period with the slightest sub contrast a Patrizzi. This is what you want. In addition to the spectacular dial and handset, its case is sharp. It comes on its original bracelet, no box or papers from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Patrizzi 16520 here from The Keystone for 65000 USD.