A very fine and rare stainless steel wristwatch with 24-hour indication and cream "rail" dial

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1986
    Reference No: 16550
    Movement No: 1'496'123
    Case No: 9'100'045
    Model Name: Explorer II, "Rail Dial"
    Material: Stainless Steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3085, 27 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Oyster bracelet, reference 78360, end links stamped 501, max length 200mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex Warranty dated October 17, 1986 and product literature.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Successor to the reference 1655 “Freccione” the Rolex Explorer II reference 16550 was launched in 1985 and was in production for a few short years.

    Originally white, the dials of many of these models have turned ivory/cream with time, giving the watch a charismatic vintage feel.

    The most coveted among these are those fitted with “rail” dials, as found on this well-preserved example. The term “rail” is used to describe the near perfect alignment of the vertical space between the text - written across the two lines on the dial at 6 o’clock. “Superlative” and “Officially” are on the left, while “Chronometer” and “Certified” are on the right.

    In addition to the color change, the dials of the 16550 were made using a glossy, lacquered finish, giving them a porcelain-like look. The white gold, luminous hour markers enhance the dial’s vibrancy, and were soon replace by black hour markers in later models. The present example from 1986 is within the earliest era of the 16550’s production run.

    In overall excellent condition, the present Explorer II is further accompanied by its original Rolex Warranty.

  • Maker Bio

    Rolex

    Swiss • 1905

    Founded in 1905 England by Hans Wilsdorf and Alfred Davis as Wilsdorf & Davis, it soon became known as the Rolex Watch Company in 1915, moving its headquarters to Geneva in 1919. Like no other company, the success of the wristwatch can be attributed to many of Rolex's innovations that made them one of the most respected and well-known of all luxury brands. These innovations include their famous "Oyster" case — the world's first water resistant and dustproof watch case, invented in 1926 — and their "Perpetual" — the first reliable self-winding movement for wristwatches launched in 1933. They would form the foundation for Rolex's Datejust and Day-Date, respectively introduced in 1945 and 1956, but also importantly for their sports watches, such as the Explorer, Submariner and GMT-Master launched in the mid-1950s.

    One of its most famous models is the Cosmograph Daytona. Launched in 1963, these chronographs are without any doubt amongst the most iconic and coveted of all collectible wristwatches. Other key collectible models include their most complicated vintage watches, including references 8171 and 6062 with triple calendar and moon phase, "Jean Claude Killy" triple date chronograph models and the Submariner, including early "big-crown" models and military-issued variants.

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93

Rolex

Ref. 16550
A very fine and rare stainless steel wristwatch with 24-hour indication and cream "rail" dial

1986
39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement and bracelet signed

Estimate
CHF12,000 - 18,000 
€10,600-15,800
$12,300-18,400

sold for CHF25,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+41 22 317 81 89
aghotbi@phillips.com

The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT

Geneva Auction 10-11 November 2018