A very rare stainless steel dual time wristwatch with date, cream "rail" dial, and bracelet

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  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1987
    Reference No: 16550
    Movement No: 1’490’036
    Case No: 9’720’297
    Model Name: Explorer II
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3085, 27 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet, reference 78360, max length 220mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex deployant clasp
    Dimensions: 39mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Rolex’s Explorer models were watches designed and intended for adventurers. While the Explorer I was marketed to mountain climbers, the Explorer II with its 24-hour graduated bezel and its large, luminescent 24-hour hand arrow, was intended for those spending extended time in dark environments, such as spelunkers.

    Launched in 1985, the Rolex Explorer II reference 16550 was the first Explorer II model to be fitted with a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. Only in production for less than a handful of years, it has become a favorite amongst collectors of Rolex sport watches. Due to a flaw in the paint used in the reference’s earliest dials, watches fitted with originally white dials are often seen with tones that have aged to pleasing shades of ivory or cream.

    The most coveted among these are those fitted with “rail” dials, as found on this extremely 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. You will notice “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 reference 16550 were made using a glossy, lacquered finish, giving them a porcelain-like look. The white gold applied luminous hour markers complement the dial of the present example, and is different from dials used in the reference 16570, its successor, which used hour markers with black surrounds. Additionally, the reference 16550 allowed the 24-hour hand to be independently adjusted, rather than simply indicating whether it was day or night in dark environments.

    This Explorer II delights with its hardly worn condition, crisp, unpolished case, and beautifully aged dial. A very early example of the reference, it furthermore offers collectors an interesting serial number, produced during the last year of Rolex’s sequential numbering system before the letter prefix system was introduced.

  • 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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Rolex

Ref. 16550
A very rare stainless steel dual time wristwatch with date, cream "rail" dial, and bracelet

1987
39mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed.

Estimate
$8,000 - 12,000 
CHF8,000-12,000
€6,900-10,400
HK$62,700-94,100

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 212 940 1293
pboutros@phillips.com

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