Rolex Explorer Ref. 1016 - Mk 1 Dial - Vietnam War
May 29, 1953
After an arduous journey starting on March 10th of 1953, and an extremely difficult assault on the summit, Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary became the first people to successfully summit Mt. Everest. On their wrist? NOT a Rolex Explorer.
Well, to be fair the Rolex Explorer wasn’t created yet. So why the hullabaloo about Sir Edmund Hillary? Well - he was wearing a Rolex. A Rolex Oyster Perpetual. After hearing of the success of this expedition and ruggedness of the watch - the decision was made to replace the Oyster Perpetual with a new model named in Hillary’s honor - The Explorer. Or so the story goes.
Either way, the Rolex Explorer I was introduced in 1953 but like many Rolex models, the first series was not considered ‘the best’ reference. For many collectors - the ultimate Explorer I is the reference 1016. It’s clean, highly legible and still tough enough for use in modern day wear. While using the same case as a Datejust, the smooth bezel and applied luminous Arabic 3,6,9 lend a more rugged and utilitarian aesthetic to the watch. This present example is in extremely well preserved condition. It has a beautiful crisp MK 1 dial (the earliest version of the Matte Dial 1016 Explorer) and a truly unpolished case which shows off those beautiful case lines we look for in the early Explorers.
Now let’s Talk About the Case-back
The case-back on this particular watch has a very unique inscription that we are not entirely sure about. As the Explorer was marketed as a tough and dependable watch under duress - it would not be unusual for somebody to have purchased this watch new for wartime use - despite it being an expensive item when new.
The case-back here reads “199th Infantry Vietnam 1970” which could mean that this watch saw use in the Vietnam war. As the war began in the mid 1950s - it is also possible that this was given as a gift to commemorate a soldier’s triumphant return home.
*Some marks or spots on the dial are reflections or dust on the crystal and are due to high intensity strobe lighting used while photographing. They are not actually on the watch or visible in natural lighting.
About the brand
Shipping & Returns
At Oliver & Clarke, domestic shipping is on us. If you are international and require a quote – please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com so we can get you squared away!
Returns (accepted within 3 days of initial delivery of your purchase) must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. For payments via Credit Card, a 5% restocking fee will be in place for any returns or cancellations in order to cover our processing fee. Of course, watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
If you happen to trade a watch with us, which we always love, trades are final, except of course if the watch is grossly misdescribed or misrepresented.
From Rolex & Patek Philippe, to Cartier & Audemars Piguet. As collectors first, we love the small details that separate the Submariner from Daytona and Calatrava from Royal Oak. This is why you'll find our curated assortment spans decades of generations of models and brands. We believe that watches don't just tell time, they tell history - and life is too short to wear a boring watch.
Oliver & Clarke