Tropical 1016 Rolex Explorer
No watch is more fit for purpose than a 1016. That purpose is adventure, it has been from the very start. So when you come across an example whose dial has clearly been used well and hard, well, this may be the reference’s ultimate expression. It’s kind of like seeing a Le Mans winning Porsche at Le Mans, Stratocaster in the hands of David GIlmour, or Mac Japanese knife in the hands of Marco Pierre White; it was always supposed to be this way. I put it to you, the readers, eminently more informed than I: should an adventure watch not wear years of adventure on its skin? Damaged or divine, you decide. But common? No chance.
Somewhat contradictorily, I’ve never really seen the appeal of paying a huge premium for something because a famous person once owned it. If you want to tack on an extra 10 mil for your next Daytona because someone famous for salad dressing once drove some laps with it, Sotheby’s is going to look after you very well this year. Phillips, too, will happily sell you a 96 from a dead emperor no actually cares that much about. It’s a little insane, like we’re grasping at straws to make our watches have a story, but I’m casting stones from a glass house here. Some watches definitely have incredible stories to tell, like Charles Woehrle’s Patek ordered from inside a concentration camp in WWII. But ‘famous guy once owned’ is just not that interesting a screenplay to me. Yet, when a watch is simply heavily worn, I often love it more. How does that make any sense? I guess it’s not quite as bad as when my friend tried to sell me a 5512 at 2K more than he bought it from me for, because Hairspring Watches had once owned it. Maybe that should be the new business model around here, seems to be working for the auction houses.
No, it seems to me that tropical dials tend to appeal to those with a more romantic view on watches. Faults are human, in that way we relate to these dials. None is perfect, but that’s kind of, well, perfect. There’s no real way to tell just how one will age. Some go citrus orange, others unevenly spot over, or sometimes you get dials like this, almost a gradient. There is no right answer, often the market prizes even light mocha, but to my eye this gradient is no less attractive. Tropical watches are great not just because they’re effectively unique, they’re better because of what they mean: someone loved and wore this watch until it started to show that life. Almost like it’s saying thank you.
This 1016 is a beautiful chocolate gradient. The tritium is still all hanging in there, with a few darker corners. The case has strong lugs, probably a very light polish on them. It comes on a correct 7206, which looks mega. This is really one of the Explorer’s best looks to my eye, though I know many of you will vehemently disagree. It comes from a well-regarded Dutch retailer.