Inverse panda, pump pusher, steel bezel, single-line Cosmograph text: these are things dreams are made of. I admit to being a fan of this reference to an almost child-like extent. I’ll try to rein that in as I feature this example. You will be familiar with the Circuit de la Sarthe of the US, Daytona, I am sure. You may not be familiar with where in the Cosmograph reference run the moniker was added . . .It was right here. The 6239 was the reference that made a bid to become the Rolex Le Mans (more here), later the Daytona. It is everything the icon is today, minus screw pushers. In other words: genesis of the real Daytona.
The 6239 has run through a myriad of dial configurations that may bewilder a recent collector. I’ll throw to a young Mr Clymer of 2013 to explain (and perhaps to let us lament the demise of the big H golden years). The 6239 was what happened when Rolex added a tachymeter steel bezel and contrast dials to the 6234. That happened in 1963. Between 1963 and 1965, Rolex became the official timekeepers of the Daytona Road Racing course. The degree to which this was corporate elbowing or Rolex instruments simply being favored by the timekeepers of the course as superior to their alternatives is still disputed. This 1965 serial-dated example comes from that interim, one of the last batches before Daytona would have been emblazoned below Cosmograph. The steel case is 37mm, plexi crystal, powered by a Valjoux 72. But you knew that.
Condition is everything and this exact watch is very nearly everything. The sought-after inverse panda dial is in a lovely shape, with all texts highly legible and no discoloration in its subdials. The tritium pips are all present and the handset is matched. The case appears quite unadulterated. It comes naked on a 78350 bracelet from a well-regarded retailer. No mention is made of service history.
Find this 6239 here from Brevet Watches for 56000 EUR.