The evolution of the Rolex Daytona, something much discussed here on VGWATCHES and, well, pretty much everywhere else at this point, is one of many mysteries. One mystery to which I have paid some attention to is that of the so-called “Solo” dials. These watches are Daytonas with dials that have but one word on them – “Rolex.” Not “Cosmograph,” nor “Oyster,” nor “Daytona.” They are curious watches, and if you consider that much of the dial printing was done in steps, so to speak, they do make sense. But where did they come from, and on which watches do they belong? I’ll examine that a little here, courtesy of a reference 6240 that made its way across my desk last week.
First, One Must Understand Daytona Dial Evolution
If you’ve read our Reference Points on the Paul Newman Daytona, you will understand that dial printing for the Daytona was a slow, evolutionary process. They began one way, then, when the name “Daytona” was assigned, developed from there. Then, when the “Oyster” case was provided to Rolex’s brand-name chronograph, they evolved yet again. And this all happened within a few years, so in many cases, you might see a dial that was born one way, with a single word being added later – such as those found in the incredibly early Oyster Paul Newmans called the “RCO” or “Oyster Sottos.” These terms, of course, indicate the word “Oyster” is added below the words “Replica Rolex Cosmograph Watches” as something of an afterthought.
The world of Daytonas is filled with “missing-link” dials – those that feature some traits of a certain accepted dial type and others from another – and they very likely could be correct. There are double Swiss dials, double Swiss underline dials, and UK luxury replica Rolex double T-Swiss-T dials, all within a very small range of serial numbers, for example.
Now there are several different references of vintage Daytonas, from the very common 6239 and 6263 to the seldom seen 6264 and 6240, but it is this reference – the 6240 – that I believe to be the most interesting.
So What’s Up With The 6240?
I still think the early 6239 Double Swiss watches are easily the most fascinating sub-set of Daytonas out there (read my story on them from way back when here) – back when they were still called the LeMans and the concept around which this family would be built was far from fleshed out. But as an individual reference, the 6240 is fascinating. This is the watch that set the stage for the Daytona as we know it today – with screw down pushers and a black bezel. It was the very first “Oyster” Daytona, which is more than meaningful, as waterproofness is a quality that represents all that cheap copy Rolex watches UK stands for (read my Inside Rolex story if you want more on that). You see 6240s with serial numbers from 1.2 m to 1.6 m with a variety of different dials – those most commonly seen are those without the words “Oyster” or “Daytona” on them, and with “T-Swiss-T” at 6 o’clock. Here are two of the most commonly accepted dial types:
Some evolution of the dials you see above – courtesy of a great post on the 6240 on Hiroshi Fujiwara’s RingOfColor.com – is that of the 6240 RCO, of which there are less than 10 known and when they come up for sale, they do well. We do see some 6240s with “ROC” dials, both with T-Swiss-T at the bottom, or sigma signature, but I would put these into a slightly less accepted category. And if you want a pure 6240, I’d say one of the two dials seen above is the way to go. Again, I am not saying a 6240 with an ROC style dial is incorrect, I just think the the non-Oyster dials make more sense in these early screw-down watches.
Now all full-spec 6240s should have the MK1 bezel and MK0 brass pushers seen below – but the vast majority of 6240s have lost one or the other. To me, like I said with the early 6239’s, there is no point in buying a 6240 unless it features the traits that define it – so without the MK0 pushers, I would personally have little interest in a 6240.
Okay, So About The Solo Dials?
I would venture to say that dial correctness for the 6240 is about as murky an area as one could possibly imagine, even in the often opaque world of vintage Rolex collecting – which brings us to the watch at hand; the 6240 “Solo.”
We’ve seen so far that dials can be born with and without different lines of text, in particular in the early 1960s Daytonas. The most minimal of all Daytona dials is what you see here – the so-called “Solo” dial. All you have on these dials is the word “Rolex.” Nothing else. The story goes – and the term “story” is used here in the literal sense because, as with any old cheap replica Rolex watches online, the firm will neither confirm nor deny the origins of these dials – that the very earliest 6240s could have been born with these dials. The market now accepts seeing these Solo dials on 6240s with serial numbers in the 1.2 to 1.4 range. They’ve been popping up from time to time for a few years, but few really paid attention to them.
The concept of the 6240 Solo was cemented by the successful sale of one example in the May 2015 Phillips Geneva Watch Auction One sale for a price of 245,000 CHF. After that, it seems as if the market began to hunt these watches, and we saw more of them surface, at auction and elsewhere. In fact, at the time of publishing, there is one available on Chrono24.com, and the one featured here in our original photographs is also available. Here is a photo from East Crown, the owner of this watch, showing four examples of 6240 Solos, though three are held privately.
But does the 6240 Solo make sense? To some it does, to others it doesn’t. There is a belief among a handful of well regarded dealers tastemakers that the solo dials were service dials for 6238s – that’s not necessarily something I myself believe – why would a monochrome dial with a tacyhmeter scale printed on it be swapped for a two-colored dial without a tachymeter by Rolex? Just doesn’t make sense.
What I do believe, however, is that these dials were originally used in 6239s. Actually, here I more than believe it – I know it, because there is an actual exact fake Rolex advertisement showing this. In fact, the image above, courtesy of Mr. Goldberger, shows the advertisement with a Solo Daytona front and center, available for just $210, and that included Federal tax, along with the actual watch depicted. Phillips sold an early 6239 Solo dial in Hong Kong without much fan fare (though it had replacement hands and bezel).
Now pump pusher watches with special dials just aren’t as sexy as Oyster Daytonas with special dials – the Paul Newman taught us that. So it is very possible that dealers, somewhere along the way, got the idea of taking these solo dials and dropping them into 6240 cases. Even I admit, a 6240 Solo is way sexier than a 6239 Solo. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying a 6240 Solo may not have ever been born that way – it makes sense to me. We have to remember how cheap replica Rolex watches worked back then, and how linear, yet unregulated their production and assembly was. If a dial like this was available during assembly and a watchmaker needed a dial, he very easily could have put one into a 6240 before shipping it out. We simply do not know anything for sure, so it comes down to what reason tells us, and the story behind each individual watch. I have, as far as I know, never heard of an original owner 6240 Solo watch (if you have, and can back that story up, leave a comment below, please). I have heard of 6263 RCO and 6240 RCO (non-PN) original owner watches, though, so we at least know; and likewise I’ve heard of a 6239 Solo original owner watch being found. Again, I don’t say anything of this to cast doubt on the 6240 – in fact I must admit I find these watches endlessly interesting and charming. I am just presenting current thinking on a special watch – one that sells for above $100,000 – that we are seeing more of in the market place.
The 6240, as I said in the beginning, is really a fascinating watch, and arguably one of the most important references in Rolex’s history. And this small subset of the 6240s in the market is anything but a majority – rather a nuanced, minuscule corner of the vintage Daytona world that I happen to find interesting. I fully expect to learn more about 6240 Solos as time goes on and more people become aware of them, and when I do, I will certainly keep this page updated. So my question is now, for you, knowing what you know now about the 6240 Solo, would you buy one over, say, a Paul Newman? It’s a more interesting choice, in my opinion, and certainly a more understated one, but until we know fore sure they were born this way, is it too much of a risk? I genuinely do not know, but I would love to hear from you below on what you think about this watch.