Rolex Explorer

SKU AS02457
SKU AS02457

Why We Love it

Jacques Cousteau had a Rolex Submariner. So did Chuck Yeager, who obtained a Big Crown model (Reference 6538) some time after breaking the sound barrier in his Bell X-1 airplane (although he wore an Oyster Perpetual during that historic flight). Countless pilots and astronauts wore GMT Masters when taking to the skies; Jack Swigert wore one during the fateful Apollo 13 mission, and sent a thank-you letter to Rolex director René Jeanneret after returning to the loving embrace of Mother Earth.

All this goes to say, that when it comes to make watches for icons and heroes, Rolex has long lived up to the task.

But for those who did not venture into uncharted depths or sail to the stars, but chose to scale the unscalable and stand at the very roof of the world, there was this watch: the Rolex Explorer.

The Explorer existed before it even had the name. It had its genesis in watches that members of Sir John Hunt’s expedition to Mount Everest in 1953. Two of them, Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, would go down in history as the first to step on the powdery snow at the summit of the world’s tallest peak.

At least one of them—most likely Norgay—was wearing a Rolex with a distinctive dial layout, with 3, 6, 9 in bold Arabic numerals at the poles. This was, in essence, the ancestor of the Explorer. Rolex, as caught up in the feat as anyone back on terra firma, would rechristen it in honor of the two intrepid mountaineers.

For collectors looking to delve into the history of this model, there is a lot of it. Rolex still produces the Explorer to this day, in some shape or form, although the shape and form have changed somewhat over the years. As with many watches made by Rolex, it’s the vintage versions that resonate the most with collectors.

Of these, the Reference 1016 is the one that many collectors dream of strapping to their wrists.

Produced from the late 1950s to the late 1980s, the 1016 enjoyed one of the longest production runs of any Rolex. Ours dates from 1965, at a pivotal time in the model’s history. The model was first offered with a gilt, glossy dial, but in 1966 these transitioned to matte dials with painted-on numerals.

As a result, early gilt examples like this one are especially coveted. What makes it even more special is the color—a gorgeous tropical hue that calls to mind rich chocolate. Looking at it, one wonders what adventures it might have seen, or to what heights it might have scaled, on the wrist of its previous owners.

Perhaps you can surpass them—with a watch like this, who wouldn’t?

A:S Guarantee


Our Pledge

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.

International Buyers

Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

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

Rolex Explorer

Rolex Explorer


Thank you for your interest in the Rolex Explorer. Please fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly.