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The summit of Everest and the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Only Rolex has sent watches to the the highest altitudes and lowest depths on the planet, and from these exploits they have created some of the most technically reliable watches ever produced.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay began their final ascent of Everest on May 29, 1953, reaching the summit, 29,028 feet above sea level. They checked the Rolexes on their wrists and marked the time: 11:30 a.m.
We know that the watch on Hillary’s wrist was a Rolex Oyster Precision (see it HERE), but we’re not sure which dial was on Norgay’s Precision. The Oyster Precision was the precursor to the Explorer, and it was the Precision that introduced the 3-6-9 black Arabic dial that we all associate with the Explorer today. The facts may have been lost to history, but one member of the Everest expedition, if not Norgay himself, likely had a proto-Explorer on his wrist, and the 3-6-9-dialed Precision is the watch that Rolex chose to rechristen as the Explorer in honor of Hillary and Norgay’s historic accomplishment.
Rolex went on to produce the Explorer for five decades (and counting, since it’s still in production), but as is the case with most Rolex sports models, the earliest versions of the watch tend to be the best looking. The triumph of the 1953 expedition and spirit of adventure and exploration that Explorer represents can be felt when this watch is strapped to your wrist. It is a memento of man’s ability to conquer the world through hard work, grit and determination (plus, doing so with timeless style and panache).
This particular watch has a 2.1 million serial, dating it to roughly 1967. The Reference 1016 was produced for about thirty years, so you've got room to be picky and find a great one. With an excellently patinated dial, matching aged hands and a crisp case without the common signs of over-polishing, this example is the honest Explorer you've been looking for.
The Explorer is one hell of a watch and has a killer story to match. You can't get much better.
Stainless Steel Oyster case is 36mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1016. c. 1967.
Overall Condition: The watch is in excellent condition over all, with very light marks consistent with age and use. Steel Oyster case shows no signs of over-polishing. Original matte dial bears a very nice dark, even patina with luminous material showing very desireable 'pull-back' on hour markers. Dial is very clean and shows no pitting or discoloration. Original handset has matching patina. Rolex-signed crown and Rolex case back.
Includes one 20mm analog/shift Grist Strap and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.