Rolex versus Zenith: Comparing the Daytona to the Chronomaster Sport

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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.

Full review of the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona

Full review of the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Sport

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.

Detail of the column wheel.

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.


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  1. In 2017 I was fortunate to have been able to purchase the steel Daytona at an AD. I actually walked into the Rolex store and asked jokingly, “Do you have a Daytona for sale”? The salesman said he had one in his safe if I was serious. My credit card was on the glass counter in a split second and I walked out with the new watch.
    Along comes the Zenith Chrono Sport. It is a stunning watch, from a brand with an amazing history and arguably one of the best movements in watch making history. Does it resemble the Daytona? Yep. So what! For all the resemblances there are so many differences. Frankly many would argue it has a better movement than the Rolex.
    I already handed over my 50% deposit for the black
    dial model with steel band. I will also get the strap too. As for resale value in a few years— doesn’t matter— it’s a keeper!
    I believe too many watch review a disservice when they devote more time to comparisons as opposed to discussions of the merits that make a watch an incredible timepiece.

  2. James, goold McShane on

    Why on earth do you people bother writing all this nonsense about Rolex Daytona when you know it’s impossible to buy one
    Do you enjoy tormenting people

  3. There is no comparison. Daytona 30k usd, Chronomaster 10k usd. I paid my deposit for the Zenith yesterday.
    Btw, during the inspection of the demo Chronomasters in the AD, the watches were found to be around 2 sec/day in various positions with my watch accuracy app.

  4. For me there is no comparing of these 2 watches. Both are great in there own way. They do not look similar at all to my eye. Zenith has a date window. Different color Chrono dials and can run a 10th of a second. The Rolex is simply a master piece of a watch. Love it!

  5. Great comparison, but no way are they similarly priced. Normal people cannot simply wait to pay $13,500 for a Daytona. Wait as long as you want, not happening. If you want one it is almost 30K on the grey market. So in reality the Daytona is 3 times the price of the Zenith. Any comparison that does not fully recognize that as a fact is misleading.

  6. If you’re smart enough to look beyond the brands bald you know the zenith is the more interesting watch

  7. I think the conclusion of the article, that the Zenith basically gives the Daytona seeker a desirability gap watch for the unattainable desire of the Rolex, does a disservice to both watches. Comparing the two watches is an obvious endeavor….they are visually, functionally, and priced similar. However, the discerning watch enthusiast will know that there are reasons why both may be desirable, and not just because the Zenith will allow the Daytona seeker to have a “Daytona.”