Have you ever heard of the Rolex Space-Dweller watch? Probably not! It is one of the rarest and most coveted Rolex watches that short-lived but commemorated a special space expedition.
People gain a great deal of fascination from pioneering spirits or explorers who wander into the unknown. And many elite watchmakers attempt to magnify the achievements and pave the way for others to follow by devising commemorative models.
So the leading Swiss watchmaker Rolex designed and developed the Space-Dweller to commemorate the achievements of Project Mercury astronauts. The United States carried out this first man-in-space expedition – Project Mercury. In Japan, the Mercury astronauts gained immense popularity, and Rolex decided to capitalise on it.
Indeed, the astronauts of NASA’s Project Mercury were the real heroes. The crew consisted of Alan Shepard and John Glenn. Alan Shepard was the first American to be in space and also, the first person who hit a golf ball on the lunar surface. On the other hand, John Glenn was the first American ever to sphere the earth. They were, no doubt the best of the best.
Thus, the brand designed a special edition of the Explorer exclusively for the Japanese market, offering the name Space-Dweller.
A Brief History of the Rolex Explorer
The Rolex Explorer is one of the flagship models of the brand. However, Rolex introduced the original Explorer model to sponsor the first successful climb of Hilary and Norgay to the highest mountain peak. The Explorer Reference 6084 accompanied the pair on the expedition, and later, the model served as the prototype for the Explorer collection.
Rolex introduced the Explorer Reference 6350, offering a new kind of lubricant. It enabled the watch to function at -20 and +40 degrees centigrade. Interestingly, Rolex developed this functionality, taking data from the timepieces of mountaineers.
Now, the first ascent to Mt. Everest and the successful expedition of Mercury 7 has only ten years interval. Rolex had been supplying Oyster Perpetual watches for many missions since the 1930s. In 1953, the brand registered the trademark “Explorer” and made many evolutions.
So within the two splendid accomplishments, Rolex upgraded the Explorer range and unleashed its third-generation with the Reference 1016.
The design was an instant hit, and eventually, Rolex made no significant changes to it for the next quarter of a century. The Explorer remained as steel, rugged and durable watch that kept precise timing, regardless of your place and activity.
The Super-Rare Rolex Space-Dweller
The Rolex Space-Dweller is so scarce that hardly a few people may have seen it in-person. Lots of factors are responsible for the rarity of the watch. However, the most significant aspect is that the brand produced this model for an extremely short time as a test-product.
Another fact is that the Space-Dweller did not enjoy the same popularity after its release as Mercury’s astronauts. Thus, Rolex ceased its full production. Well, there is hardly any difference between the special edition Space-Dweller and the standard Reference 1016.
Perhaps the difference is limited to the name only. The watch flaunts the name “Space-Dweller” below the brand name and the text “Oyster Perpetual”. Otherwise, the timepiece sports other features similar to the original model. For instance, the Rolex Space-Dweller comes with 36mm case diameter.
Furthermore, the watch houses the Calibre 1560 movement. As already mentioned earlier, Rolex produced the Space-Dweller in limited numbers, exclusively to be sold as a trial in Japan. But the country did not anyhow greet the watch as much as it did for the astronauts of the successful Mercury mission.
Rolex was all-set to put the Space-Dweller into production if it had appealed the public in the same way as the Mercury space expedition. Consequently, this limited edition of the Explorer retired even before it started its journey.
Ironically, it might be more accessible to ascent the Everest than spotting a Rolex Space-Dweller. Even the most avid Rolex collector can pass his or her entire life with no glimpse of one Space-Dweller. Moreover, if one example ever come up at auction, the price is likely to be sky-rocketing due to its scarcity.
The Rolex Space-Dweller may not be one of the costliest Rolex timepieces. But it is indeed one of the super rarest.