Rolex Oyster Perpetual
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Rolex Oyster Perpetual

The Rolex Explorer is without question one of the most historically important vintage watches, due to its fascinating connection to the greatest feat in mountaineering: Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s summit of Everest in 1953.

In fact, it could be said that the history of the Explorer began when the two mountaineers stood on the summit of the world’s tallest mountain. As they took photographs and buried offerings in the snow, at least one of them wore a Rolex on his wrist. Rolex had been outfitting expeditions like the one in which Norgay and Hillary took part for several years, and had approached them with a run of simple Oyster Precisions before they set out for the Himalayas. 

It was only after their summit, when Norgay and Hillary were back at sea level and word got out of their historic feat, that Rolex christened the line as the Explorer.

Thus, the watch that Norgay might have worn—a watch like this one—has gone down in history as a “pre-Explorer.”

This particular Oyster Precision is a Reference 6298, judged by experts on vintage Rolex to be among one of those “pre-Explorers.” It features a semi-bubbleback design, so-called due to the protruding case back, necessary to accommodate the automatic movement. The Reference 6298 was the first pre-Explorer to feature the classic “3-6-9” dial layout that aficionados of the Explorer have come to know and love.

With gorgeous (Radium!) lume and a heavy patina to the dial (including some Radium burns), it’s a memento of man’s ability to conquer the world through hard work, grit and determination—plus, timeless style and panache.

Details

SKU: AS02447

Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Reference 6298. Circa 1950s.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition with moderate signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with some signs of age, including patina to the luminescent (Radium) elements. Signed crown.

Includes one 20mm leather strap.

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