Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces

Monaco, Jan 19, 2023

LOT 156


EUR 10,000 - 20,000

USD 10,800 - 21,500 / HKD 84,000 - 168,000 / CHF 9,900 - 19,800

Sold: EUR 13,000

A rare and fine, stainless-steel, self-winding, wristwatch, with ivory colour dial, date and 24-hour indication.

Grading System
Grade: AA

Very good

Case: 2-8

Very good

Slightly scratched

Movement: 2*

Very good

Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-10-01



HANDS Original

Brand Rolex, Geneva

Model "Explorer II"

Reference 16550

Year circa 1990

Movement No. 1491276

Case No. 9421983

Material stainless steel

Diameter 39 mm.

Caliber 3085, 27 jewels

Weight 122.8 gr. (approx.)

Signature dial, case and movement


Hans Wilsdorf loves exploits, as evidenced by the Rolex watches that have equipped many adventurers. He designed and manufactured the Explorer I for Sir Edmund Hillary who decided to climb Mount Everest, "the roof of the world", at an altitude of 8,848 m. Designed to withstand all kinds of challenges, it is robust, reliable, readable and precise. It raises the brand to the rank of iconic myth-maker: a true legend is born, and the manufacturer strikes hard with this historic model.

Then Rolex launched production of the Explorer II in 1971 with the reference 1655. Instead of presenting an improved version of the Explorer I, a brand new model was introduced. A 24-hour steel bezel with a 24-hour scale allows the explorer working underground, mainly speleologists, to distinguish between day and night.

In 1985, the reference 16550 was launched to replace it, and staid in production until 1988. This transitional ref. 16550 had a larger case (40 mm.), a sapphire glass and the 3085 caliber. Without the orange freccione, the dial is more conventional. However, the beautiful homogenous “ivory” patina of this present example is highly sought after by collectors nowadays. For the first time, the 24 hour hand is independently adjustable, thanks to the new cal. 3085. This means that the Explorer II can now display a second time-zone.