The Rolex Explorer is an expedition watch crafted around the experience gained in the Himalayas. The model focuses on superior legibility even in the poorest lightning conditions, a quality crucial for adventurers. The Explorer’s iconic heritage is surpassed only by its fresh yet elegant design distinctive due to the unique hour and minute hands, the highly readable black dial with luminescent indexes and over-sized Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
The watch was created by Rolex in 1953 for the British Mount Everest Expedition. Tenzing Norgay, the Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer was the one who wore the watch for the first time. The remarkable and unforgettable achievement of the Explorer is that it was one of the first watches that conquered Everest’s peak. This made it a symbol for extreme climbing and adventurous explorations. Rolex was clever enough to preserve this powerful association with mountain climbing by equipping climbers with Explorer watches, sponsoring these types of events and putting its name and products on every climbing related summit. Now, Rolex Explorer is seen as the only choice of adventurers.
At first, the timepiece didn’t have the name Explorer printed on the dial. The name was added later on, after the ’53 Everest Expedition. The model was manufactured to be especially robust and resistant to temperature and altitude variations- qualities essential for withstanding a dangerous mountain climbing adventure. From the inside mechanism to the outside case and bracelet everything was carefully developed and constructed as to ensure extreme resistance.
Due to the incredible fame and popularity of the Explorer, Rolex decided to upgrade this model by creating a modern version. The newer design created its own share of adventurous stories in the most incredible peaks of the world. The Explorer II was introduced in 1971 and it featured considerable differences from the previous model. The watch was more modern and elegant. It didn’t have the same classic and sporty feel as the Explorer I. The case and dial were upgraded, it featured an additional 24-hour hand that can also be used as a second time-zone, the crystal was made of sapphire and the movement changed from Calibre 1560 to Calibre 3000.
The new 24 hours function was developed for professional cavers who need a reliable time keeping instrument independent of the outside world. Of course, the Explorer II kept the main quality of the Explorer I- it offered a highly legible dial, excellent for use in dark environments. Even though, the Explorer II is so similar to the GMT Master II and the Submariner in some aspects, it is also completely different in essential details as the bezel which does not rotate. It is a fixed metallic bezel with a 24 hours scale. On the other hand, the Explorer I has a smooth metallic bezel without any indexes or markings.
Nowadays, the Rolex Explorer I comes equipped with an in-house Calibre 3132 whereas the Explorer II comes with a Rolex Calibre 3187 movement. These two self-winding movements are well-known for their reliability and robustness. Another key quality is represented by the soundless bi-directional and weight segment fitted in their movements.
The restrained elegance and ruggedness of the Explorer I and II combined with the superior legible dial make the watches perfect for men who prefer a discrete sporty timepiece that has established itself not only as a style icon, but also as an adventurous pioneer.