Rolex is one of the most widely recognized brands in the world.
While you could attribute their fame to a deep-pocketed marketing department or a celebrity endorsement, to do so would be to deny the decades of research and development that Rolex has championed. Through endless testing in myriad environments and conditions, the brand was able to hone their designs and technologies. Icons like the GMT to the Submariner, watches which exude a special kind of toughness and reliability that has fostered a kind of go-anywhere, do-anything mentality among enthusiasts and collectors, were borne of tireless testing and refinement.
Among Rolex's great achievements is the development of the Explorer, a much-needed addition to the brand's core collection.
At its heart, the Explorer has always been an understated tool watch. With its smaller case and stark black dial and luminescent numerals, it embodies hearty robustness suggestive of a military pragmatism. It's no wonder that it was included in the kits of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as they prepared for their historic summiting of Everest.
Today, the Explorer--in all of its executions--enjoys a kind of cult status among watch enthusiasts and collectors, but for many, the story really begins and ends with the Reference 1016.
For one, it enjoyed the longest production run of all the Explorer models (1963 - 1989), making it the execution widely understood to define the model. Additionally, the trim 36mm steel case and matte Tritium dial resonate with the original form-follows-function design; the simplicity is pleasing when contrasted with the complications (bezels, date functions etc.) of the 1016's successors, the Explorer I and II. And, increased demand has made finding honest 1016s very hard today, with many suffering from over-restoration.
This particular 1016 has a serial number in the 170,000 series, putting its production somewhere near 1974. We're reasonably certain of that date, because the previous owner hand-engraved his family name--WOU--and "74" on the case back. Further sleuthing and well-preserved service paperwork (and service box) from Rolex dating to 2011 suggests that the watch was in the care of Mr. Wou since it was originally purchased. It's also accompanied by a letter from Rolex Canada dated May 1, 1975 that welcomes the purchaser to the 'exclusive club of Rolex wearers in Canada,' and forecasts a 'certain pride of ownership that only a Rolex wearer can really understand.' And, coming on a 7206/58 rivet bracelet in solid condition, it's obvious that this one was well loved and cared for.
And as 1016s in any condition being hotly coveted, this piece, with all of its uniqueness and the likelihood that it was maintained for decades by the original owner make this Explorer something altogether droolworthy.*Editor's note: The service paperwork denotes that the dial and handset are 'discolored due to age and the luminous at the 3 and 6 o'clock positions is broken' and offers the owner a service replacement for both. Since the dial and hands have not been replaced, we can assume that Mr. Wou declined the replacement, electing to keep the watch in its original condition - way to go, Wou!
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1016. Rolex Automatic Movement. Circa 1974.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel Oyster case is in very good condition, showing no signs of excessive polishing. Matte black dial is in excellent condition with no signs of discoloration or hand drag. Dial does show signs of age, particularly to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Some lume degradation at 3:00 and 6:00. Rolex crown. Rolex case back is hand-engraved "WOU 74."
Includes one 20mm 7206/58 Oyster rivet bracelet with end links dated to 1969. Bracelet is in excellent condition with faint signs of use and wear. Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle
Also includes service box, original letter from Rolex Canada dated 1975, and service documents dated 2011.