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The Rolex Daytona Reference 6263. The Omega Speedmaster 145.012. The Heuer Carrera 2447 - there are perhaps no greater bellwethers in the watch collecting community than the vintage grails from the most sought after brands.
As conversations about values and collectibility grow and intertwine, these signpost pieces help the cognoscenti decide between and evaluate this piece and that one. But occasionally, there are outliers that neither inform their brand genus nor are informed by the other models that exist within it. In other words, there are pieces that stand alone, monolithic in their appeal, and, therefore, unique in their allure.
For decades, the Rolex Explorer Reference 1016 has existed on the periphery of Rolex collecting circles, but whether that's due to its spartan aesthetics or its undisputed pedigree as a simple purpose-built tool watch is unclear.
But throughout the past few years, we have watches collectors recenter their focus on the 1016, the most pristine and distinct examples finding their way into some of the world's most impressive collections.
This isn't surprising. In fact, it's surprising that the Explorer--the watch (essentially) that summited Everest on the wrists of Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa/guide Tenzing Norgay-- went overlooked for so long. Surely, the romantic stories of the British expedition's heroic achievement has long energized the legend of the Explorer for some, but the watch's contemporary mass appeal is relatively fresh.
Still, demand for the Explorer is not all-encompassing. Since the first Explorer model, the Reference 6150 (minted some time in late 1953), there have been numerous iterations of the line; but simply put, there are four major epochs.
The earliest Explorers, like the Ref. 6098 (the watch issued to Sir John Hunt's 1953 Everest expedition) Ref. 6298, Ref. 6150 and Ref. 6350, embody the rarest and most nascent class of Explorers. Next, the Reference 6610s, which were essentially the first Chronometer Certified Explorers released, produced from circa 1955 to 1959.
The Reference 1016 is the third class of Explorers and easily the most recognizable. Enjoying the longest production run (late 1950s to the late 1980s), the Ref. 1016 saw a handful of permutations but kept its quintessential characteristics, thus defining the look and feel of the line for decades.
This particular Ref. 1016 bears a serial number in the 7 million series, putting its date of production at approximately 1962. The crowning feature of this Explorer is of course the dial, a beautiful gilt example that differs from later examples which have white printing. At this period, Rolex was transitioning from radium to tritium luminescent material on their dials, which explains the lovely patina that these early gilt examples attain as they age.
The final epoch of the Explorer essentially marks the end of the true-to-form Explorer. The rehashing of the model with first the Ref. 14270 in the late 1980s/early 1990s and the Ref. 214270 in 2011 strayed from the Explorer's stoicism, replacing matte dials with glossy ones, Tritium lume with white gold-surrounded SuperLuminova, and eventually a larger case.
It is this last era of Explorers that has turned collectors to reconsider the longstanding Ref. 1016 in recent years--and in a big way. Before many could make the shift, 1016s got gobbled up, the sharpest examples getting stashed deeply away. It's for this reason that we are so pleased to be able to offer such a lovely Explorer Ref. 1016, complete with a superb gilt dial and honest case. It's no doubt that examples such as this are hotly pursued today, worthy of any collection and of any wrist.
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1016. Rolex Caliber 1570 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1962.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel Oyster case is in very good condition with no signs of over-polishing. Matte gilt dial is in excellent condition with no signs of discoloration or hand drag, and beautiful patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Rolex crown. Rolex case back is in very good condition with minimal signs of use and wear.
Includes one 20mm dark brown leather strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle