The Rolex Explorer I is still the smallest and probably most inconspicuous sports watch of the Geneva manufacturer. It owes its popularity above all to a famous supporter, the great discoverer and philanthropist Sir Edmund Hillary. Legend has it that on May 29th, 1953 at 11:30 a.m. he looked down at his watch when he was the first person who had climbed the summit of Mount Everest.
A lady charmer in disguise
While Sir Hillary’s model still featured a white dial, the reference 1016, which was produced from 1963, already bears a black dial and the characteristic “Mercedes star” in the hour hand. Early models with a Gilt-Dial are particularly popular among collectors. The Explorer I is still undervalued compared to the other Rolex sports watches and, unlike some of these very massive models, it can be worn with both swim shorts and tuxedos – or rather with swimsuits and little black dresses.
More and more women tend to wear watches, that were originally designed for men. And the Explorer I sure knows how to charm (and adorn) the ladies. Ian Flemming, who wore a reference 1016 himself, already knew this. It was probably the reason, why he wrote this very model on the arm of his novel hero (and lady charmer) James Bond and not a Rolex Submariner with which Sean Connery as 007 hunted the villain Dr. No on the screen. Why you should definitely go for a vintage instead of a new version of that watch? Because the diameter was changed in 2010 from 36 mm to 39mm which once again proved: bigger is not always better.
We are humans! We sweat, we have wrinkles and we don’t do photoshop. Isn’t that sexy?