Rolex Explorer I Gilt Dial
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
Rolex has long been the watch of exploration. Their timepieces have been worn into some of the most extreme locations on the planet, often at the behest of Rolex technicians who wanted to subject their timepieces to worst Mother Nature could conjure.
It wasn’t surprising that Rolex approached the 1953 Everest expedition with a run of simple Oyster Perpetuals, hoping that the mountaineers who had set their eyes on the monolithic mount would utilize them on their journey to one of the few places on the earth yet to be touched by man.
If you know the tale, then you know that Edmund Hillary (later to be knighted for his achievement) and Tenzing Norgay successfully planted their flags atop the behemoth, and that Rolex came with them to the summit. These simple, three-hand Oyster Perpetuals represented the cornerstone of Rolex’s engineering at the time – robust automatic movements housed in slim stainless steel cases designed to take a beating.
A few short months after the successful summit of Everest, Rolex unveiled the first ever Explorer model. Built on the trim 36mm Stainless Steel case with ‘Twinlock’ crown, it featured a Calibre 6298 automatic movement and a simple Arabic dial with luminescent numerals at 3,6, and 9, a layout which is now synonymous with the history of the model. Designed specifically for legibility in low-light conditions. In name and design, the watch was an homage to Hillary and Norgay and to the simple Oysters that they wore during the expedition.
Between 1953 and 1960, Rolex tried a handful of movements and case designs, keeping the overall appearance of the watch relatively unchanged. The successor of the earliest 6298s(which were produced in very small numbers) was the Reference 6610. It featured, among other small changes, a gilt dial with the same 3-6-9 layout, and a white lollipop sweep hand.
In 1960, the Reference 1016 Explorer was released and it would remain in constant production virtually unchanged until 1990, making the Reference 6610 just about the closest thing to an actual "Everest Watch" that you can find outside of a museum today.
Explorers like this one don’t come along often, and with a gorgeously patinated Gilt dial, original lollipop sweep hand and original stretch-rivet bracelet, it is a truly remarkable example of a collector-grade Explorer.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Rolex Explorer I Gilt Dial