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Rare Rolex Space-Dweller, a Cosmic Gem, Ready to Command Six Figures at Auction

by Barbara

In a celestial twist, an extraordinary Rolex “Space-Dweller” is set to dazzle watch enthusiasts and space history aficionados at Phillips’s highly anticipated The New York Watch Auction: NINE in December. This exceptional timepiece, born out of Rolex’s response to losing a NASA contract to Omega for lunar mission watches, is expected to fetch an astronomical sum, with estimates ranging between $50,000 and $100,000.

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The intriguing backstory of the Space-Dweller dates back to 1963 when Rolex, smarting from the loss of the NASA contract, seized a golden opportunity after Project Mercury astronauts visited Japan. The Swiss watchmaker unveiled the exclusive ref. 1016 Explorer, affectionately known as the Space-Dweller, to capitalize on the resultant publicity. Although the exact production numbers remain shrouded in mystery, the singular model set to go under the hammer promises to be a coveted collector’s item.

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Featuring a 36 mm stainless-steel case housing a captivating glossy black dial adorned with gilt graphics and golden luminous details on hands and indexes, the Space-Dweller exudes an otherworldly charm. The dial proudly bears the inscription “Space-Dweller,” a nod to its cosmic inspiration. Experts speculate that Rolex crafted this timepiece in limited quantities specifically for the Japanese market, and an initial run of ref. 1016 models failed to gain traction, leading to the discontinuation of the Space Dweller as a model name.

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The rarity of this stellar Rolex is amplified by its well-preserved state and the powerhouse within—a calibre 1570 automatic movement with 26 jewels, ensuring a 48-hour power reserve. The winning bidder will not only secure this unique piece but also receive two service receipts from Rolex Japan, dated June 19, 2003, and August 5, 1998, authenticating the watch’s provenance.

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For those eager to claim a piece of both Rolex and space history, the opportunity awaits. Bids for the Space-Dweller can be placed during Phillips’s The New York Watch Auction: NINE, scheduled for December 9 to 10. To add to the anticipation, the auction house is currently accepting advanced bids via its website, promising a thrilling celestial competition for this rare and remarkable timekeeping relic.

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