My very first Sunday Morning Showdown was back in 2020 when we debated the merits and demerits of the venerable 1:1 fake Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. RJ and I fought tooth and nail, with my support of the watch eventually winning out. Following the “Rate It” win in my inaugural Sunday Morning Showdown, I’ve represented the Daytona thrice and lost each time to the Speedmaster. Today, as this is Daytona versus Daytona, the perfect replica Rolex chronograph is guaranteed to win.
That said, I am still eligible to lose this fight. As I’ve selected the outgoing ref. 116500LN, I risk not getting the reader’s majority votes. Nevertheless, I stand by my selection as the design elements of the 116500LN better convey the provenance of the cheap fake Rolex Daytona’s mysticism.
Released at Baselworld 2016, the watch community praised the luxury replica Rolex Cosmograph Daytona ref. 116500LN. Yet the only updates from the previous 904L stainless steel ref. 116520 were the Cerachrom black bezel with bolder tachymeter scale and black sub-dial rings. The rest of the watch, including the movement, was unchanged. That didn’t stop it from becoming a coveted, waitlisted steel sports chronograph. While the new reference retains much of the design language that made the 116500LN such a hit, the 126500LN’s tweaks only highlight why the 2016–2023 era was peak Daytona. First, I commend Rolex for finally standardizing the aaa quality fake Rolex Daytona case across all steel, two-tone, gold, and platinum materials. Previously, the Oystersteel Daytona had an asymmetric case. It was almost like the Omega Speedmaster but the reverse, where the lugs on the crown/pusher side were slimmer than on the other side.
It may be a cool quirk to have pretty “un-Rolex” inconsistency in a professional range, but it’s a welcome act of streamlining. I also like the matching metal sliver running the circumference of each model’s Cerachrom bezel. Where the other tiny differences are almost imperceptible, the outer metal bezel ring is enough of a visual cue whether the watch is a new or previous reference. However, where the refreshed design falters is the case side. While it’s good that the case diameter is now closer to the listed 40mm spec than the 38.5mm ref. 116500LN, the new lug profile strips the Rolex Daytona replica for sale of one of its character. Those polished rounded case sides are typically reserved for the prestigious Day-Dates and Sky-Dwellers, so including them on the grail-worthy Daytona made sense. But now, the slab sides and hook lugs more closely resemble a Submariner or GMT-Master II.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with those tool super clone watches online. But the Daytona formerly straddled the line between Professional and Classic. Now it sits firmly in the Professional camp. Even so, the case sides are not the most egregious update. My biggest bugbear is the skinny indices that mark each hour except 12. The new index look refers to the 1988–2000 ref. 16520 (or “Zenith Daytona”) with similarly thin applied white gold markers. But if you thought the Swiss movement copy Rolex Daytona was difficult to read at a glance before, the illegibility is compounded by smaller indices. While the relative position of the hands is enough to tell the time, when using the chronograph, the central timing hand is almost lost among the vague running track. The ref. 116500LN better complemented its bold tachymeter scale with cushion-shaped outsized indices that are sorely lacking in the Swiss copy Rolex ref. 126500LN.