Exclusive Timepieces October 2021 | Monaco LOT 169

169. Rolex Directly from the Descendant of the Original Owner, Outstanding, Historically Important and Extremely Well Preserved in Original and Untouched Conditions, one of the First Rolex ever made bearing the Explorer signature on the dial, referenc

Estimate € 100,000 –⁠ 200,000

Sold € 416,000
Lot Description
Model: Explorer
Reference: 6350
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Bracelet Material: Leather Strap
Year: 1953
Movement: Automatic
Caliber: A.296
Case N°: 955829
Dimensions: 34 mm
Signed: Dial, movement and case
Accessories: Bulletin de Marche and Rolex Letter

The conditions in the high mountains represent the ideal environment for evaluating the reliability and robustness of a watch. For Rolex, the Himalayas were the best natural laboratory. Most people believe that the Explorer I was launched by Rolex for commemorating the Everest expedition and that this watch was with British explorer team consisting of Edmund Hillary, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and John Hunt on 29th, May of 1953, achieving a great task of human being climbing. This story is definitely magic and attractive, but it still has a certain distance to the real fact. Rolex indeed had supported Himalayan expedition since 1933, and later in Everest expeditions, Rolex had been always the official supporters, so Rolex endorsed each explorer team with its wristwatch. During the first half of the twentieth century, the Himalayas and its untouched peaks aroused the interest of nations and fascinated mountaineers from all over the world. Everest in particular, this colossus overlooking the mythical mountain range, has been the subject of great interest. This call for the highest peaks, felt on an international scale, combined with the possibility of testing their watches "in real life", has led Rolex to join numerous teams of pioneering mountaineers. Between 1933 and 1955, seventeen expeditions equipped with watches of the brand set off to conquer the highest peaks. These watches have witnessed several "first" ascents, starting with Everest in 1953, the highest peak in the world with its 8,848 meters, followed by K2 in 1954, the second highest peak in the world with its 8,611. meters, from Mount Kangchenjunga in 1955, the third highest peak in the world with its 8,586 meters and from Mount Makalu in the same year, the fifth highest peak in the world with its 8,485 meters. The Explorer was based on the already existing tough and hard wearing bubbleback, which has been modified by Rolex for the more active and adventurous customer. In 1952, the references 6098 and 6150 (both using the A296 movement) were in fact the first prototypes of Explorer to be used by climbers; they were watches with white dials and leaf shaped hands and did not bear the name Explorer yet. Returning from each of these expeditions, the climbers, through their feedback, have contributed to improving the performance of future Rolex watches. Thus, just as movement feeds on the gestures of the wearer, watchmaking technology has progressed thanks to the exploits of explorers, to better accompany them in the challenges that have made it possible to discover the less accessible places on the planet. In 1953, the same year that Hillary successfully climbed Mount Everest, the results of these models became the reference 6350, like the present lot, when they were fitted with the “Explorer” moniker on the dial, making it the first “real” Explorer ever produced by Rolex. As such, all references before the 6350, are often dubbed “pre-Explorer.” Although Rolex had registered the trade mark of Explorer in Geneva on 26th, Jan of 1953. As mentioned, all of the pre-Explorer references do not sport uniform dial layouts the way all true Explorer references have. With this official reference 6350 "explorer", the climbers were equipped for the mission on K2, one of these specifically is proposed to the mountaineer Ugo Angelino, in fact it was precisely in 1954 that Ardito Desio chose him as one of the mountaineers who would face the expedition to K2 of the same year. The Karakorum, 8,611 meters, is the second highest peak in the world. Second compared to Everest (8,848 meters), but first in terms of difficulty due to its characteristics: steep walls, extremely difficult climbing passages, unpredictable weather and storms that last for days. Everest, a few degrees further south, is less steep and is considered affordable even for relatively less experienced climbers and that is testified by the fact that over 3000 people in the course of history managed to reach the top of the Everest, while for the K2 only less than 300. Previously, Angelino had taken part in the training at Plateau Rosa, along with other climbers who aspired to take part in the expedition. He himself, after training, took care of compiling the list of materials needed to be transported to Pakistan among these he inserted the watches that at that time were on everyone's lips having already passed the Everest test, we are talking about this Rolex Explorer watch present in this auction. Since that day, due to these successes in these various missions, Rolex made people talk about themselves all over the world and decided to change its company policy, moving to the creation of tool watches, in order to help operators in the sector such as aviators, divers, speleologist, regatisti, pilots, laboratory physicists exposed to strong magnetic fields and many others, in everyday life. Rolex therefore decided, starting from the basic concept of watches with an oyster case that guaranteed their water resistance, and the perpetual automatic movement, the creation of new specific models, as we know them today, such as the most iconic Daytona, Submariner, Gmt Master, Yatch Master up to Milgauss. Agatha Christie once said "One coincidence is just a coincidence, two coincidences are a clue, three coincidences are a proof”, and by following this idea, Rolex understood that, based on the actual excellent results of its creations subjected to extreme environments, the way to go was probably slightly different than the first one undertaken by Hans Wisdorf. Therefore, no longer watches produced with precious materials and with fascinating complications such as “moon-phases” or “triple calendar”, but rather tool-watches, suitable for challenges and extreme environments, but also perfect for everyday-life. The Maison realized that the elite of the population was no longer the only target to aspire to, but rather the whole world! Wilsdorf understood that a change of course was necessary, dedicating its production to watches that the entire population had the possibility of accessing. And it was precisely this last clue that made things clear: the audacious expedition to the Karakorum in 1954 in which Ugo Angelino took part, definitively contributed to marking the road then followed up to the present days. A tiny, efficient and gorgeous watch led the road to what for almost 70 years has marked the times of Rolex creations: the watch that went on the K2, the watch that changed everything, the watch that is offered now to you by Monaco Legend Group! Going into the details of this specimen, as with most early Rolex models, the dial is gilt (golden type print) and is a so called chapter ring (due to the ring around the outer circumference of the dial). Rolex also stamped it OCC or ‘Officially Certified Chronometer’. In terms of the hour markers- the Explorer was the inspiration for all legendary dials that would come afterwards including the Submariner and Turn-O-Graphs. The 6350 dial is among the most beautiful in terms of simplicity and readability