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The Rolex Explorer – The Heart Of Adventure


This iconic picture from 1953 of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reminds us that challenges have always been a part of mankind’s DNA. Mount Everest majestically boasts the highest summit one can climb at 8,848 meters with snow and some of the most challenging elements imaginable.

Since the 1920s, Rolex have been involved in exploratory expeditions testing the quality and robustness of their Oyster watches. These watches were the beginnings of ‘tool’ watches, and birthed the term ‘Professional’ watches that we are familiar with today.

All of these extreme tests provided Rolex with the undisputed confidence to place a Rolex Oyster on the wrist of Edmund Hillary, worn from basecamp to the summit of Mount Everest.

Since its launch in 1953, the Rolex Explorer has remained a true companion to many owners, not just explorers.

Below are a few historical examples of the Rolex Explorer’s design and evolution.

Circa 1950s

Circa 1970s

Circa 1980s

Note the simplicity of all three models with a definite black dial and bold numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.

These models range from 1950s to the 2000s, and all of these earlier models are still very desirable to vintage watch collectors today.

Each remind us of the historical emphasis Rolex place on their watches.

The current Rolex Explorer which we know today retains that history and as you will read, is still as desirable today as when it was first released in 1953.

At first glance, we can see why the current Rolex Explorer has immediate appeal. Its larger case size of 39mm reaches a wider audience and appeals to those who may have found the previous 36mm too small aesthetically for their wrist.

That being said, it will attract a life-long 36mm case owner, particularly as the watch doesn’t feature a deep case.

The specifications of the Rolex Explorer boasts enviable qualities.

The 39mm case is produced in Rolex Oystersteel. The monobloc middle case with screw down case back can only be operated by the Rolex tool. Not forgetting a Twinlock double waterproofness system incorporated into the screw down twin-lock winding crown.

If you enjoy swimming you can confidently wear your Rolex Explorer as it can take you to a depth of 100 meters (330ft). Rolex test all of their watches under extreme conditions.

The crystal is virtually scratch resistant sapphire too, complete with a polished bezel in keeping with the design of the watch.

The movement of the Rolex Explorer shown below reveals the high quality and attention to detail that Rolex dedicate to every timepiece.

A Calibre 3132 manufacturer movement which is perpetual mechanical self-winding. The precision is chronometer rated at -2/+2 seconds per day after casing. Other features include hour, minute and second hand, stop seconds for precise time setting. Important in particular with a chronometer rated watch.

For accuracy of timekeeping it includes an escapement which features the Rolex patented Paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring. The winding mechanism is bidirectional via a perpetual rotor, complete with a power reserve of approximately 48 hours.

The bracelet as you would expect from Rolex is their own Oystersteel flat three-piece link, complete with a folding oyster lock safety clasp. Another very useful built in feature is their Easylink 5mm comfort extension link. Easy to operate, and very handy in weather when wrists may swell.

One of the attractions of the Rolex Explorer is the clarity of the black dial. Whilst dark, the dial still retains the distinctive 3, 6 and 9 hour markers for a highly legible dial. The dial is finished with a Chromalight display with a very identifiable long-lasting blue luminescence. With a five-year warranty and 10 year recommended service interval, Rolex confirm their first class service to customers.

To learn more about the Rolex Explorer, please contact us on 01243 782135 or send us a message on our website

Our passionate and knowledgeable staff at R L Austen look forward to helping you choose a Rolex that will last a lifetime.

By Gary Royston Cole