When it comes to vintage watches Rolex is generally the brand of choice for most enthusiasts, especially those just starting out in the collecting game. And why not, there is a readily available supply of good quality examples all around the world plus a wealth of information no more than a click away, making buying your first vintage Rolex not only relatively risk-free (if you do your homework properly of course) but also quite affordable.
The flipside to this of course is that you may not be the only one amongst your friends to own a particular vintage Rolex model, and worse still you may not be the first. This risk increases exponentially if you limit yourself to the handful of classic tool watches that everybody seems to know – even the ones that aren’t even into watches – namely the Submariner, the Sea-Dweller and the GMT-Master.Now don’t get me wrong, a nice example from any one of those three collections is something to be cherished and worn with pride however today I’d like to introduce a fourth, and sometime overlooked option for your consideration; the Rolex Explorer I.
Like its slightly larger brethren the Rolex Explorer was part of the highly popular series of professional (aka tool) watches that the brand began introducing back in the early 1950’s. According to Rolex these watches were intended for professional activities, such as deep-sea diving, aviation, mountain climbing and scientific exploration. The watches generated lasting enthusiasm and became known as the watches of achievers.
As you might have guessed the Rolex Explorer was created for the mountain climbing category. In fact, one mountain in particular – a rather significant one was it were – is said to be the inspiration behind the original Explorer. You see, back in 1953 during Sir John Hunt’s expedition, in which Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the summit of Mount Everest, both climbers were equipped with Rolex Oyster Perpetuals. Inspired by the knowledge gained from this fascinating chapter of human adventure, the Oyster Perpetual Explorer was launched in the same year to celebrate the victorious ascent of Everest.
Best of all though, thanks to the long production run there are multiple different variations to choose from. The Rolex Explorer 1016 was the most common series made and was in production for over 25 years, which is why today we can show you two different versions from two different eras. The first an absolute classic from 1965, the second a pristine R-series from 1987, possibly one of the last pieces ever made of this now iconic series.