Rolex Explorer I
$ 20,750.00

Rolex Explorer I

Why We Love It

Today, the Explorer I --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 gilt or matte dials resonate with the original form-follows-function design; the simplicity is pleasing when contrasted with the more luxurious materials and additional complications of its successors. For many years, the 36mm size of the 1016 was deemed too small for a true sport watch, keeping demand and values relatively low, but in recent years the pendulum has swung to the other side, and increased demand has made finding honest 1016s very hard today, with many suffering from over-restoration or replacement components.

This particular example dates to circa 1969 and features an honest case and an absolutely stunning dial with rich, creamy yellow patina across its characteristic 'quadrant' Arabic indices and handset. Fitted to a folded link stainless Oyster bracelet, this piece is arguably all you'd ever need in the vintage sports Rolex category!

The Explorer I Story

Few watches have captured the imagination the way the Rolex Explorer has.

 At its core, the Explorer has always been an understated tool watch, it's spartan appearance belying its hearty robustness. It is perhaps this, more than any other feature, that urges ever onward the spirit of adventure and humankind's unwillingness to accept defeat. In this way, the Explorer - in all of its executions - has formed a kind of cult status among watch enthusiasts and collectors.

The Explorer traces its heritage back to the first successful summit of Everest in 1953. While we know now that the watch on Sir Edmund Hillary’s wrist was a Rolex Oyster Precision. The Oyster Precision was the precursor to the Explorer, and it was the Precision that introduced the 3-6-9 Arabic dial that we associate with the Explorer today. It was after the successful summit that Rolex rechristened the model as the Explorer in honor of Hillary and Norgay’s historic accomplishment.

Rolex went on to produce the Explorer continuously for nearly seven decades (and counting, since it’s still in production), and the triumph of the 1953 expedition and spirit of adventure and exploration carries on with each new model.

It is a memento of our ability to conquer the world through hard work, grit and determination - and of course our ability to do so with timeless style and panache.


SKU: AS03760

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 36mm (excluding the crown). Automatic-winding movement by Rolex. Rolex Reference 1016. Circa 1969.

Overall Condition: The case is in fantastic condition overall showing light wear consistent with age and use and light signs of polish. Luminous matte black dial is in excellent condition with rich patina and matching handset. Signed crown.

Includes stainless steel folded-link Oyster bracelet (7836/380) with signed blade clasp.

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