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A rare and "fresh-to-market" Rolex Explorer in stainless steel
Auction Ended
6 Bids
Reserve Met
Auction Ended On
June 15, 2020
Lot 8
Starting Bid: $9,000
Estimate: $9,000 to $17,000
Manufacturer: Rolex
Year: Circa 1978
Model Name:
Reference: 1016
Case Serial Number:
Condition: Excellent condition. 
Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet: Stainless steel C+I oyster rivet bracelet 
Item Number: 131550
Movement:        Cal. 1556, manual-winding, 26 jewels.
Signed Case, dial, movement, and bracelet.

Rolex Explorer 1016 Stainless Steel

Bob's does NOT charge a buyer's premium – what you bid is what you pay.

Condition Report


Excellent original matte black tritium 3,6,9 dial with warm creamy yellow lume. Hands have aged a shade darker than the dial. 


Excellent original stainless steel case which has previously been polished in the past. Serial and reference numbers remain crisp and well defined. Inner caseback is engraved 1016. 


Excellent original stainless steel smooth bezel with very minimal wear. 


Excellent original stainless steel C+I oyster rivet bracelet with 9 links. Clasp is stamped with a "79" date code. Bracelet has some moderate wear consistent with age. 

Box and Papers

Bob's presentation box, Certificate of Authenticity, and warranty card. 

Catalog Essay:

The Rolex Explorer first appeared in 1953 as the brand’s very first sports watch. Not designed specifically for one particular sport or activity, the Rolex Explorer was simply a rugged and highly functional wristwatch that was built to the highest standard. By roughly a decade after the first Explorer was released, Rolex introduced the reference 1016, which would go on to become the most well-known vintage Rolex Explorer of all time.

Like its predecessors, the ref. 1016 was 36mm in diameter, crafted from stainless steel, and powered by a self-winding movement. Protecting its highly legible, time-only dial was a thick acrylic crystal, and the ref. 1016 holds the distinction of being the very last Rolex Explorer model to ever feature an acrylic crystal, with all subsequent models featuring sapphire crystals like the rest of Rolex’s various watch collections.

The reference 1016 remained in production until 1989, during which time, both gilt dials and matte dials fitted to Explorer 1016 watches. By the time Rolex discontinued the reference 1016, the brand had already switched its other sports models over to gloss dials with applied white gold markers, and all subsequent Explorer references received the newer style of dial. Due to the fact that production of the Explorer 1016 spanned the entire matte dial era, the reference 1016 is the only Rolex Explorer reference to ever be fitted with the now iconic matte dial.

This particular Rolex Explorer ref. 1016 has an estimated production date of 1978, placing it firmly in the middle of the production period of matte dial Rolex Explorer watches. Its tritium luminescent hour markers have developed a rich, creamy yellow patina, with a darker shade present on its Mercedes-style handset. A personal favorite among countless individuals around the world, including James Bond author and creator, Ian Flemming, the reference 1016 is the quintessential vintage Rolex Explorer watch.


MOVEMENT: Movement is functioning. Watch comes with a Bob's Watches one year warranty. 

Auction Terms & Conditions | Bob's Watches | (800) 494-3708 | Bond # 72BSBHE9842

* The money you spend bidding on items you receive at auction is not tax deductible. Please consult your accountant for all tax related questions or deduction qualifications and bid accordingly.


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Bob's Watches is an independent watch dealer and is not sponsored by, associated with and/or affiliated with Rolex S.A., Rolex USA, or any other brand listed on its website. Bob's Watches only sells pre-owned watches and provides its own warranties on the watches it sells. The brand names and associated model names for Rolex, OMEGA and other manufacturers are the trademarks of their respective owners.

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