The Rolex Explorer reference 1016 is considered one of the best entry-level Rolex watches for collectors. This vintage watch is more readily available than other Explorers, such as the rare reference 6610 which immediately preceded it. Experts conclude that for every 20 ref 1016s there is 1 ref 6610. The two timepieces look very similar, however they can be quickly identified by the signature. Ref 1016 features the “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified” signature as opposed to the “Officially Certified Chronometer” signature of the 6610.
Images courtesy of Bob’s Watches
While this reference is not particularly rare, it is a piece of Rolex history. The longest running Explorer reference, it was originally produced from 1963 to 1989 and eventually came to be known as the unmistakable Explorer standard. Its simplistic design offers a black matte dial with off-white markers. Like other Oyster watches, it features a screw down Oyster case and an increased water resistance level from 50 meters to 100 meters.
The first round of watches, from the beginning of production to around 1975, featured the caliber 1560 movement. An updated version of the movement, renamed caliber 1570, introduced the “hack” feature which stops the second hand when the winding crown is pulled out to the hand setting position. When the hand is stopped at the “12 o’clock position, the wearer can synchronize the time with that of a known source, such as a phone. About this time, Rolex also introduced the new Oyster bracelet. It offered specially designed links which were made from solid steel instead of the folded sheet steel of earlier Explorer bracelets.
Some rarer versions of this Explorer are signed “Space Dweller.” This unique model was first introduced in the Japanese market in 1963. It was introduced in response to a visit to Japan by the Mercury astronauts. This trial run of the Space Dweller was made to honor these brave men, who were seen as the ultimate explorers in the world at the time. Despite this, the watch was not a big seller in Japan or elsewhere in the world. As a result, there are few signed Explorer Space Dwellers with this reference.
Though this watch is considered your “average” Explorer, it is still a fantastic watch that should hold a place in a reputable Rolex watch collection. However, there are many poor examples of this reference on the market, so be sure to purchase from a reputable dealer who can offer a quality version.