Both the Rolex Daytona and the Zenith Chronomaster Sport are highly sought after in today’s market. The Rolex Daytona has been that way for years now, and have seen new highs on they resale market of late. The new Zenith Chronomaster Sport however, is only recently launched, but shares a certain popularity in part some say for its formulaic similarities to the Rolex Daytona. But are they really that similar?
1 on 1: Rolex Daytona vs Zenith Chronomaster Sport
First off, we have covered both watches in great detail. Here are the two full reviews. And we highly recommend for your reading.
In addition, we have a Watchscapes article on the Rolex Daytona.
The Case Size
The Rolex Daytona measures 40 mm by 12.2 mm while the Zenith measures 41 mm by 13.6 mm. The slimmer Daytona hugs the wrist better given its thinness but otherwise, they share a similar size.
904L vs 316L
Rolex Daytona uses the less common 904L grade of stainless steel, which Rolex calls Oystersteel while the Zenith uses a 316L stainless steel case material. The visual difference in the steel finishing are hard to discern by the naked eye.
Screw lock pushers and crown guards vs pump pushers and no crown guards
Both watches have water resistance ratings of 100m, but the Daytona seems to have more mechanisms for waterproofing in their design. While the Rolex Daytona features screw lock pushers and crown guards, the Zenith uses a more minimal design with plain pump pushers and no crown guards.
Bracelet end links
Rolex uses the same Oyster style bracelet with a polished center link between two brushed links. The Zenith bracelet appears to have an additional beveled edge polish on each side links as compared to the Rolex. The cut out solid end link with an additional recessed link also makes for a better fit on the wrist as compared to the Rolex end link. This design is reminiscent of 1990s bracelets which is being reproduced lately. The new Omega Speedmaster also adopts this new end-link design and replaced their previous T shaped end link similar to the Oyster bracelet end link here.
Rolex Daytona uses a rounded case contour while the Zenith Chronomaster opts for more straight lines
The most obvious difference is in the lugs. The Rolex Daytona has a simple curvature extending from the round side case, while the Zenith uses straight sharp lines, detailed by contrasting brushed and polish finishing.
The two movements
The Rolex Daytona uses the automatic 4130 caliber – 72 hours power reserve, parachrom hairspring for antimagenetism and certified by COSC for an accuracy of +-2s a day.
Zenith uses the new 3600 caliber which has a 60 hours power reserve, respectable on a high beat movement at 36,000 vph. Comparatively, the Daytona beats at 28,800 vph. Even when Rolex was using their caliber 4030 which is a Zenith sourced El Primero base, with modifications made, including the reduction of beat rate to 28,800 vph.
For the more technically inclined, the 4130 caliber uses a vertical clutch design while the 3600 uses a lateral clutch layout. Both mechanisms have respective pros and cons, but visually the horizontal clutch movements are more appealing. Think – lemania based handwinding chronograph movements. And the vertical clutch usually results in a smaller seconds hand jump when the chronograph is started.
Talking about the visuals, Rolex uses a closed caseback while Zenith uses an opened caseback.
The elephant in the room we have been avoiding is that the Zenith can capture 1/10th of a second measurements while the Rolex is a regular seconds unit chronograph.
Affordability and Attainability
Both products are well made and hail from pedigree chronograph making brands. Arguably, Zenith more so than Rolex in this aspect.
But even Captain Obvious wouldn’t have to say that the Rolex stands out for its brand value. The retail price on the Daytona in steel is US$13,500 while the Zenith, US$10,000. The Daytona remains perhaps the most desirable sporty chronograph in the market. But to be able to get a Daytona through retail these days is proving impossible and sickening for many enthusiasts. Many of the retail pieces ‘inadvertently’ end up on the grey market at several times the original price. For the less patient buyers, alternatives like this new Zenith is both more affordable and attainable. By making the product competitive, and in this aspect with a fascinating 1/10th movement, Zenith fills the desirability gap between the watch enthusiast and his unattainable Daytona.