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BOB’S WATCHES

ROLEX BLOG

The Little Watch That Could – A Rolex Explorer 1016 With An Interesting Story To Tell

July 3, 2014

BY Paul Altieri

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Vintage Explorer Watch Reference 1016

Vintage Explorer Watch Reference 1016

The Rolex Explorer is easily one of Rolex’s most recognizable models; not for its extremely luxurious design or features, but because of its tool-like watch design and abilities. Originally descended from the forerunner of the “Explorer” model worn by the first party to climb Mt. Everest, the Rolex Explorer reference 1016, specifically, was the longest running of all Explorer models, produced from 1963 to 1989. Reference 1016 is a fairly simple design, featuring a black matte dial with off-white markers, screw down oyster case, and an increased water resistance level from 50 meters in the previous reference, to 100 meters.

Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016

Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016

This particular Explorer 1016 comes with its own, unique history which plays into the history of Rolex itself. George, the original owner of the watch, made his initial Rolex purchase in 1966. He was prompted to buy the watch, not for its luxurious association, but as a practical tool for his future. George was in his senior year of Cadet School at West Point and knew his military career was only beginning, thus he needed a timepiece that would keep accurate time and that could hold up in the most difficult terrains. He landed on a Rolex Explorer 1016 at the New York Cadet Store, and bought it for a whopping $86.65. This price was double the price of many other watches on the market at the time. However, George knew that in military operations you needed a reliable and durable timepiece. In addition to keeping accurate time, the watch’s radium dials allowed signaling, perfect for military operations. Being a perpetual motion watch, the Rolex did not require batteries. By simply wearing the watch, the gentle motions of the wrist would wind it. Though George knew the watch was expensive, he also knew he needed the best and most reliable timepiece on the market. Thus, to him, the reliable Rolex brand was worth the higher price.

Bracelet Vintage Explorer 1016

Bracelet Vintage Explorer 1016

George’s purchase followed him as he traveled around the world while serving in the army. It was worn on his wrist in Army Ranger School in the mountains of Georgia as well as the swamps of Florida. While in the 82nd Airborne Division, the watch traveled to Germany with him, where the two were stationed until 1966.

Crown Vintage Explorer 1016

Crown Vintage Explorer 1016

In 1967, George took his Rolex Explorer to Vietnam. While in Vietnam, George was stationed in the Delta where he experienced extremely hot and wet conditions. Not surprisingly, his Rolex Explorer 1016 easily withstood the varied and extreme conditions, just as George thought it would. George explained that he initially purchased the Rolex Explorer because he needed something that would keep accurate time and that could hold up in the most difficult terrains. Through George’s military experiences, he found that the Rolex Explorer 1016 did just that.

Movement Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016

Movement Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016

When George recently decided to have his Explorer 1016 serviced, he was surprised at the quoted $300 price as it was far more than he had initially paid nearly 50 years ago. Seeing how the watch’s value must have increased over time, George decided to bring his watch to Bob’s for an appraisal.

Bracelet Vintage Explorer

Bracelet Vintage Explorer

Vintage Explorer Model 1016 Black Dial

Vintage Explorer Model 1016 Black Dial

Classic Explorer Model 1016

Classic Explorer Model 1016

Movement Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016

Movement Vintage Rolex Explorer 1016

Vintage Explorer 1016 Movement

Vintage Explorer 1016 Movement

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