Rolex Explorer I

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.

There are, thankfully, no such pitfalls or perils to be found here. Indeed this is the 1016 that enthusiasts pine over and collectors clamor for. The dial is nearly perfect, with warm, evenly patinated tritium lume, the case sharp and thick. If you ever wanted to understand what beauty can come from pure simplicity - spend some time with this watch. 

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: AS03791

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 36mm (excluding the crown). Rolex automatic winding movement. Reference 1016. Circa 1974.

Overall Condition: The case is in spectacular condition overall showing normal wear consistent with age and use and no signs of prior polishing. Luminous matte black dial is excellent condition with beautifully aged tritium luminous plots and matching handset. Signed crown.

Includes stainless steel Oyster bracelet with signed clasp (78360/580 HD) dated 1/76.

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