Rolex Explorer 1016

  • Brand: Rolex
  • Model Name / Number: Explorer / 1016
  • Year: 1962

About this model: The Explorer is the oldest of Rolex’s sports model lines that are in continual production today. While sometimes overshadowed by it’s bigger brethren, the Explorer offers something that the others can’t: versatility. You can’t really dress up a bulky Sub or a multi-colored GMT, but the Explorer offers a mix of grit and class that makes it ready for any situation.

Like the 1675 model in the GMT Master line, the 1016 is the longest running model of the Explorer line. The 1016, 1675, and 5512 were all released within a year of each other (1959-1960) and evolved similarly from the gilt dial with chapter ring all the way to the matte dial. Unlike the 1675, the 1016 was produced all the way into the the late 1980’s, both a testament to it’s lasting 3-6-9 dial layout and (probably) because it was lower in the hierarchy of Rolex.

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About my example: My 1016 is a special one both because of the story behind it and because it is an early example and in good condition. Searching for watches one day, as I am want to do, I saw that this example was going to be sold locally at an estate in Connecticut. I immediately called the estate agent (at first to no avail) and eventually found out that I would have to be at the sale to buy the watch. Unfortunately, I was working in the hospital every day between that day and the day of the sale and wouldn’t be able to make it. So, I called the estate agent, we came to an agreement on the price, and I started reaching out to watch friends in the area to see if I could pay them to get it for me. After several calls I was lucky enough to find a friend willing to do it; I wired the money to him to bring to the sale and waited…

Then, two days before the sale, I was called by the agent saying that myself and two other collectors were all very interested in the watch and they had decided to do a ‘one bid’ auction between the three of us. I was rather annoyed because we’d come to a set price and I’d already wired my friend the money but there was nothing I could do. So, the next day at a preset time, I called him and gave him my ‘one bid.’ 5 minutes went by … he texted me to say that I’d outbid the first collector! Only one more to go. 10 minutes and no word. I was worried that I’d been outbid and that he was dealing with the ‘winner.’ Then, as I was about to call him, I got a text: “The other collector hasn’t gotten back to me. I’m not going to wait for him. The watch is yours, we’ve got a deal.”

Hilariously, the first collector I outbid then went on a tirade saying that the estate agent had sold the watch to me at too low a price, to which the agent responded; “So why didn’t you bid higher?” I was thrilled, and still am, to wear this.

What makes this example special is that the chapter ring gloss dial has retained it’s gloss and that, despite having slightly later 1960’s hands, the patina matches perfectly. My favorite part is that the owner didn’t like the bracelet and just put it back in the original box and never wore it. It’s a special 6636 expansion rivet bracelet and truly “new old stock.” Lastly, the box shows that the watch was bought from Philipe Beguin, the esteemed Geneva Rolex dealer that also sold none other than the Bao Dai Rolex of auction fame.