Rolex Explorer
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Rolex Explorer

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, but for many, the story really begins and ends with the Reference 1016.

The Explorer traces its heritage back to the first successful summit of Everest. While we know now that the watch on Sir Edmund Hillary’s wrist was a Rolex Oyster Precision (see it HERE), facts remain sketchy when it comes to Tenzing Norgay’s - Hillary's sherpa/partner. 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. But with many of the details lost to history, some suspect that Norgay himself had a proto-Explorer on his wrist. Regardless, it was the 3-6-9-dialed Oyster Precision that Rolex rechristened 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).

But of all the models produced, the Reference 1016 tends to be the most sought after. For one, it enjoyed the longest production run of all the Explorer models, making it the most iconic. Additionally, the trim 36mm steel case and matte Tritium dial hark to the original form-follows-function design; the simplicity is pleasing when paired with the complications (Bezels, date functions etc.) of the later Explorer models.  However, this demand has made finding honest 1016s very hard today. Many examples have been over-restored and have lost their integrity from over-polishing and relumed hands and dials.   

This particular expression, boasting a 1.7 million serial, hails from the mid to late 1960s. Showing some light wear and polishing consistent with an aged and used watch, this example falls perfectly in the realm of wearability - not too nice to enjoy and not too overworked to fall for. Strapped up on an expedition-ready nylon NATO-style strap or on a dressier leather 2-piece, you'd be hard pressed to find another companion that you can accompany you anywhere your adventures take you - even if that happens to be the Roof of the World.    

Details

Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1016. Rolex Automatic Movement. Circa 1967.

Stainless steel case is in very good condition, having been lightly polished professionally. Matte black dial is in good condition, showing some slight damage at the bottom of the dial between 5 and 6 o'clock. Luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands have gained a fine even patina over time. Rolex crown. Rolex case back has some slight dings and scratches but is in otherwise very good condition.

Includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle

SKU: AS01724

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