Value Prop: Tritium Service Dial 1016 Rolex Explorer
I don’t even think it’s contentious for me to admit that I fundamentally distrust people who don’t love the 1016. An Alpinist for the affluent, the 1016’s humble can-do practicality and tritium dial prove irresistible in the long-term for the vast majority of watch collectors. Many Rolex devotees have a preference for fat font dials, a much rarer subset of Explorers. Others seek the warm tones of a brown tropical dial. I personally love them all. Even when someone (gasp) sent it in for service in period.
The 1016 was introduced to the world in 1959. Like many period Rolex, it evolved in small changes throughout its production, which ran until 1989. There is nothing before or since that has so definitely influenced dial design, in my humble opinion. 3-6-9 cut its teeth in this reference. That harmonious arrangement may be one of the most legible numeral and baton mixes of all time. This is all not even to comment on the fact that Tenzing Norgay undoubtedly wore it to summit Everest, the first of two remarkable humans to do so in 1953. Sir Edmund Hiliary, well he may have. I don’t want to inflame any opinions here but the weight of the evidence seems to point toward a Smiths. I make no comment. What matters here is that this is the definitive, original flavor tool watch. Much like all metal music can trace its influence to the Led Zeppelin crowd, all steel tool watches stem from this source.
The dial on this example was not born with the watch, but supplied by Rolex during service. It is a tritium service dial, where many service dials are un-lumed. This is not a collector’s grail example, but a very handsome dial nonetheless, particularly by comparison. Moreover, these typical sell at a small value compared to other variants which are still appreciating aggressively. This will not be to everyone’s taste, but it seems callous to omit such watches from history entirely for having been used and cared for. Not perfect, but perfect to use.
This example has an overall strong case which has seen a light polish. The dial is well-preserved for its age. It comes on a 93150, unknown if original to watch. This 1016 comes from a small retailer out of Mexico.
Find this 1016 Explorer here from Relojes Vintage Mexico for 14500 USD.