Rolex Explorer 1016 'Space-Dweller'

Museum Piece
Rolex applied for the Daytona to become NASA’s official astronaut’s watch, but lost that space race to Omega’s Speedmaster.

Rolex applied for the Daytona to become NASA’s official astronaut’s watch, but lost that space race to Omega’s Speedmaster. However, there’s another astronomically rare space-related Rolex out there: the quirky 1016 Explorer ‘Space-Dweller’

The ref. 1016 Explorer is one of our all-time favorite watches due to its iconic 3-6-9 dial design, rugged build quality, and, of course, its relationships to the first ascent of Mount Everest. Yet, very little is known about the Explorer’s short fling with space.

As the space race began to heat up in the 1960s, the brave men and women that conquered space became international heroes. In 1963, astronauts from NASA’s Mercury flight program visited Japan to much fanfare. Rolex seized this opportunity by introducing a special release of the 1016 Explorer. This watch was essentially identical to other 1016s from that time, but featured the words “Space-Dweller” on the dial instead of “Explorer”. The Space-Dweller was produced in very small numbers and was only available for a short period to the Japanese market before being abandoned by Rolex.

This exceptionally rare watch features a stunning glossy black gilt dial with beautiful star-like patination on the outer edges. Meanwhile, the tritium paint in the iconic 3-6-9 numerals and indices has turned a pleasing pumpkin color that matches nicely with the tritium handset. The case is in wonderful condition with thick lugs and comes on a nice riveted Oyster bracelet.

This rare beauty not only allows you to relive the golden days of watchmaking, but of space travel as well!

Rolex Explorer IRolex has a storied history of building tool watches dedicated to professional users. In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual on Hillary's wrist. In honor of the expedition, Rolex released the Explorer later that year.Over the years, the Explorer I has been produced in various executions. Except for the very earliest ones, they all have one thing in common: the characteristic 3-6-9 numerals on the dial (the so-called ‘Explorer dial’).