If you have spent time on our site, you already know Rolex is one of our favorite brands and it is no mystery why. Rolex has solidified their place in horological history and is one of the most recognizable brands in the world across all categories. Here we feature six of our favorite Rolex watches available on The Keystone now.
Rolex “Cream Dial” Explorer 16550
One of the most under appreciated vintage Rolex watches is the cream dial Explorer 16550. The Rolex Explorer is well known to the vintage watch collector, this model has been a pillar of the sport model collection for decades with the most well known references being the 1016 and the 1655. The 16550 was introduced in the mid 1980s with black or white dials, replacing the 1655. The paint used on the early white dial 16550s have slowly turned to a beautiful cream color over the years. Rolex quickly corrected the issue, using a new paint that stayed a more pure white, leaving only a limited number of the early watches in the market. This 16550 features a fantastic original cream dial consistent with the time period of production in the mid 1980s. This watch has an excellent, thick case with clear signs of original finish and wide chamfers on the lugs, suggesting it was either never polished or done so correctly. This is truly a collector piece and a fantastic look.
Rolex “Gilt” Explorer, ref. 6352
A very different look from the above mentioned Explorer, this reference 6352 is a pure vintage lovers dream. This watch was produced in the same era as Sir Edmund Hillary’s famous trip up Mount Everest in 1953, a trip that would help solidify Rolex’s reputation for being the premiere sport and adventure time piece. The 6352 is less known that the 1016 (a vintage collector favorite), but this is largely due to the rarity of the reference. Even more rare is finding a 6352 with such a beautiful black dial and “Explorer” printing. This gilt dial has very attractive, even aging making it a standout piece. This is a watch that you will likely never see another collector wearing.
Rolex “Big Red” Daytona 6265
Needing no introduction, the Rolex “Big Red” Daytona 6265 is among the most sought after and well known Daytona references. This Daytona reference is nearly identical to it’s twin, the 6263, with the only difference being the bezel which is steel on the 6265 and black acrylic on the 6263. This particular 6265 is in phenomenal condition, with an excellent sharp, full case showing no sign of polish. The silver “Big Red” dial is clean and original and the pushers and bracelet (often replaced at service) are original as well. A fantastic example of an iconic Rolex reference.
Rolex “Racing Dial” Zenith Daytona, ref. 16528
The vintage market has seen demand (and subsequently, prices) for the “Zenith” Daytona increase significantly over the past few years. For a little while these 1990s Daytona’s were thought of less as vintage and more as outdated. As time passed, the style has come back around and we can certainly see why. These “Zenith” Daytonas feel a bit more substantial than their 4 digit reference predecessors (6263, 6265, etc.), and they wear very well. This particular yellow gold “Zenith” Daytona 16528 features a rare white “Racing dial,” which has Arabic numerals at the hour markers. This dial is a bit more readable than the typical stick markers and makes for an interesting look.
Rolex “Red” Submariner, ref. 1680 retailed by Tiffany & Co.
The Rolex Submariner reference 1680 was the first Submariner reference to feature a Date display when it was released in 1966. For the first few years of production of the 1680, the word “Submariner” was written in red until Rolex changed the printing to white in the mid-1970s. These “Red” Submariners have become highly sought after and add a different look to the standard black and white Submariner dial. This particularly “Red” Submariner is not only special for it’s rare red printing, but to add to that, it was retailed by Tiffany & Company and thus has the retailers name printed on the dial just above the red writing. These watches are extremely rare and to find one in such great condition with a beautiful faded bezel is a very special occurrence.
Rolex Tropical Dial GMT-Master, ref. 16758
As commercial air-travel became faster and more common in the 1950s, Rolex collaborated with PanAm airlines to create the GMT-Master to help pilots keep track of multiple time zones. While most GMT-Masters were produced in steel, this 16758 is yellow gold and was sold with a brown bezel insert and brown dial, earning it’s nickname the “Rootbeer” GMT. Similar to the cream dial 16550 mentioned above, this brown dial slowly changed color over time, turning an amazing even deep green. Dials that change color like this, most often seen as black dials turning brown, is often called “Tropical,” as the affect is associated with the humidity of tropical conditions. While we do see brown tropical dials relatively often, we very rarely see dials turn this fantastic green color. This affect makes this watch a truly unique and special piece that would fit beautifully in to any collectors assortment.