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For decades, the Rolex Explorer I has stood on the periphery of Rolex collecting circles. Undoubtedly, the Explorer, like its stablemates the Submariner and GMT, is a sports watch through and through—with examples venturing to far-flung locales like the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. However, the Explorer lacks the proverbial bells and whistles of either of those watches, making it something of an underdog amidst the rest of Rolex’s vast offerings.
There’s no date window on the dial, unlike the Submariner 1680, nor does it have a GMT hand; furthermore, its roots as a watch for mountaineers meant that it was much more of a “niche” product than either the Submariner or GMT.
Still, as the years wear on and collectors refocus their collections, the Explorer has drifted in from the edges of their collective consciousness.
Of all the models of Explorer that Rolex produced, the Reference 1016 tends to be the Explorer that collectors seek to strap to their wrists. For one, it enjoyed the longest production run of all the Explorer models, making it the most plentiful. Additionally, the trim 36mm steel case and matte dial hark to the original form-follows-function design of early Explorers, like the Reference 6150 that found its way to the summit of Everest in 1953.
This simplicity, though perhaps stark to some, is pleasing when compared to the complications of the Explorer’s successor, the Explorer II.
Due to its resurgence in popularity in recent years, finding an unmolested example is as impossible (and as unlikely) as hopping into a time machine and traveling back to the mid-1960s (not like we’ve tried).
We don’t like to throw words like “original” or “unpolished” about, because without that time machine there’s simply no way to tell. But within the collectors’ circle there’s a marked preference for 1016s that have radium dials and seem untouched by the polishing wheel. Those go for tens of thousands of dollars, and probably never see time on the wrist in an effort to keep them as pristine as possible.
A compromise, therefore, can be reached in examples like this one. Dating from 1965, it shows traces of a loving and professional service sometime in its life. The Tritium dial and handset are service replacements from Rolex, and the case has been carefully polished.
Someone loved this watch, wore it every day perhaps, and sent it into the shop when it needed to be.
What results is a watch that is every bit as handsome—and wearable—as a 1016 was meant to be, and can be had for well under what premium examples are trading at. Don't miss it!
Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Reference 1016. Calibre 1560 Self-Winding Movement. Circa 1965.
Overall Condition: Case is in good condition, showing signs of previous polishing. Matte Tritium service dial is in excellent condition, showing warm patina to the luminescent elements. Rolex signed crown. Case back has some light signs of wear.
Includes one 20mm dark brown leather strap.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
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