Rolex - The New York Watch Auction: X New York Saturday, June 8, 2024 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Rolex
    Year: 1985
    Reference No: 16550
    Movement No: 1’069’844
    Case No: 8’597’482
    Model Name: Explorer II, Steger International Polar Expedition
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3085, 27 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster bracelet stamped “93150”, endlinks stamped “593”, max length 205mm
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Rolex Oyster deployant clasp stamped "18"
    Dimensions: 40mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed.
    Accessories: Accompanied by Rolex guarantee stamped Rolex New York on June 1985, hang tag, and fitted presentation box.
    Literature: Literature: The present watch is featured in The Best of Time: Rolex Wristwatches by James M. Dowling and Jeffrey P. Hess, page 253

  • Catalogue Essay

    “To the perilous North Pole by dogsled, sextant, and Rolex chronometer,” stated in a 1986 Rolex ad, as seven men and one woman launched an epic 57-day adventure. The 1986 Steger International Polar Expedition was a landmark journey in polar exploration led by the American adventurer, Will Steger. The grueling, 57-day expedition succeeded in traversing the entire Arctic Ocean via dog sled, covering a distance of over 3,700 miles from the northernmost point of Alaska to the northern coast of Greenland. This ambitious venture marked the first confirmed, unsupported traversing of the Arctic Ocean without re-supply. As the Rolex ad stated, “…the Steger Expedition shatters another precedent. Member Ann Bancroft becomes the first woman to trek to the point where all longitudinal lines meet.”

    Engraved on its caseback “1986 Steger International Polar Expedition”, the present Explorer II reference 16550 is believed to have been engraved and presented by Rolex USA to a member of this expedition team, in accordance with this famous advertisement.

    Accompanied with its original guarantee stamped “Rolex New York”, the present watch remains in well-preserved condition. It features what collectors have dubbed a “spider dial”. With minor fissures developing over the lacquered surface, such “spidering” is considered a charming characteristic found in black dial examples of the reference from this era. An extremely rare, historically significant, and complete Rolex NY-“issued” timepiece, it’s the ideal watch for collectors seeking a watch with an incredible story.

  • Artist Biography


    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.

    View More Works


Ref. 16550
An historically important stainless steel wristwatch with date, “spider” rail dial, 24-hour hand, bracelet, with guarantee, hang tag, and presentation box, made for the Steger International Polar Expedition

40mm Diameter
Case, dial, movement, and bracelet signed.

$8,000 - 16,000 

Sold for $58,420

Contact Specialist

Paul Boutros
Deputy Chairman, Watches, Head of Watches, Americas
+1 (212) 940-1293

Isabella Proia
Head of Sale, New York
+1 (212) 940 1285

The New York Watch Auction: X

New York Auction 8 - 9 June 2024