There is a reason why the Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016 was one of Rolex’s longest production watches. Spanning a run from 1963 to 1990, with a few updates here and there, it is, without doubt, one of the purest Rolex sport models that underpin the entire Rolex ‘tool watch’ ethos.
The Explorer, named so after famously summiting Mount Everest in 1953, its design in my opinion is as perfect as it gets. Perhaps one of the most beautifully proportioned and understated Rolex’s, utility was always taken into consideration. A simple yet reliable three-hander, a highly legible dial with a great 3,6,9 layout, no date, and housed in a 36mm stainless steel case with long elegant lugs, today the Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016 is a vintage lover’s dream.
While Rolex began the 1016 production using glossy gilt dials, they transitioned to matte dials several years later. This example is an early matte dial Explorer, characteristically distinguished by its ‘frog’s foot’ dial, where the Rolex coronet resembles a frog’s foot. The Explorer 1016 is as pure as a Rolex tool watch gets and in my opinion the matte dial is the most iconic.