In the spirit of exploration, we’re bringing back our popular (and completely sold out) series, Timekeeping Selects — a partnership with Analog/Shift, the New York-based purveyor of vintage watches. As before, we’ve done the legwork for you, scouring sources to find cool, unique old watches with impeccable authenticity — all serviced and ready to wear. To mark the new year we’ve invigorated the series with a special twist: this time, each watch includes several handpicked accessories for a complete ready-to-go kit, with each item selected to pair with the watch. Each week, we’ll bring you a new watch across a wide variety of price ranges paired with its matching accoutrement (both vintage and new). Because these watches are more than just ways to tell time — they’re each representatives of a distinct way of life. Say hello to your new carry.
May 29th, 1953 — Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stepped gingerly onto the hardened snow on the summit of Mount Everest, the top of the world. Pushing back the sleeve of his parka, Norgay spied his simple three-hand Rolex Oyster and marked the time: 11:30 a.m.
The expedition, headed by Englishman John Hunt, was no small feat, comprised of more than 400 individuals and requiring roughly 10,000 pounds of gear. But the fickle Himalayan weather and unpredictable gear met the expedition at every turn. Three days before Hillary and Norgay’s successful ascent, another British team was rebuffed only 300 vertical feet from the summit due to faulty oxygen systems.
It was these unpredictable conditions, some of the harshest in the world, that interested Rolex. For decades before the historic climb, the Swiss manufacturer had sought out natural laboratories in which to put their watches to the test, supplying countless explorers and adventurers with simple, robust Oyster Perpetuals. In 1927, an Oyster Perpetual successfully crossed the English Channel on the wrist of an English swimmer. In 1933, they were worn by the first pilots to fly over Mount Everest. In 1935, an Oyster Perpetual adorned the wrist of Sir Malcolm Campbell as he set a land speed record of over 300 miles per hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. It was no surprise that Rolex supplied the mountaineers of the 1953 Everest expedition with their stalwart Oyster Perpetuals.
Rolex registered the “Explorer” trademark in January of 1953 and designed a watch to “conquer the world”. A few months after Hunt’s successful expedition to the summit, Rolex officially released the first Explorer. Built on the trim 36mm stainless steel case with a “Twinlock” crown, the Explorer featured a Ref. 6298 automatic movement and the signature 3, 6, 9 dial, designed specifically for legibility in low-light conditions. Between 1953 and 1960, Rolex tried a handful of movements and case designs, keeping the overall appearance of the watch unchanged. In 1960, the Ref. 1016 Explorer was released. It would remain in constant production virtually unchanged until 1990.
By today’s standards, the 36mm case might be considered small, the simple dial, spartan. But one need only to scratch the surface of the line’s history to know that beneath its humble veneer, the Explorer was the watch worn by some of history’s most daring adventurers to some of the most inhospitable places on the planet.
This particular watch is in excellent condition, showing only a few light marks from age and use. Read more about the specifics of the watch here.
Buy Now: $8300
Nylon “NATO”-style straps
No tool watch is complete without a selection of sturdy nylon “NATO”-style straps. These straps, hailing from Crown & Buckle, are the perfect accompaniment for the aspiring adventurer.
Swiss Army Knife Model 1961
The Soldier Knife model 1961 has a 3.7-inch knurled alox handle with the Swiss crest, a drop-point blade, a reamer, a blade-combining bottle opener, screwdriver, wire stripper and a combined can opener. Issued to Swiss soldiers between 1961 and 2008, this handy blade has everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Surefire G2X Fire Rescue Pro
Lightweight (4.4 ounces), powerful (320 lumens) and virtually indestructible, the Surefire G2X will get you out of even the most precarious outdoor scenarios without breaking a sweat.
The carabiner is the climber’s lifeline, an extra hand, a reassuring friend and indispensable ally for all things death-defying.
Joshua+Vela Waxed Dopp Kit
Joshua+Vela designs explore the harmony of style and function. They build their bags to last and grow more beautiful with age and wear. Inspired by their materials, they design to highlight the natural surfaces of canvas and leather. From cutting and sewing the canvas to finishing the leather and hammering copper rivets, their bags are made entirely in their San Francisco studio.
analog/shift Watch Pouch
For decades, American servicemen and women have relied on small, durable pouches like this one to hold compasses, medical supplies and ammunition. Hand-stitched by Maine-based craftsman and designer Jared Desimio, the analog/shift watch pouch evokes those trusty military pouches and is produced from reclaimed military pup-tent fabric. Suitable for carrying one watch plus two or three straps.