Rolex Explorer – A Revisit

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A Timeless Watch

If there’s one watch that I told myself that I will never sell, it’s going to be the Rolex Explorer. Born from the stories of the Rolex that went to Mt. Everest, the Explorer in my opinion has cemented itself as a timeless classic and one of the Rolex that will outlast one.

To quickly summarise the birth of the Explorer, one must travel back in time. The summit of the Mount Everest has been the challenge of mankind since 1920s. However, it’s not only until 1953 where the team led by Sir John Hunt and Sir Edmund Hilary were able to achieve the feat. At May 29, 1953, both were on the top of the world.

Of course, the Explorer that we see now is not the exact Explorer that they wore. Upon descending from the summit, Sir Hilary eventually had to return the watch to Rolex. There have been a few references after it as the 6350, 6150 and the 6610. In addition, throughout this iteration, there’s been an upgrade of the movement as well such as the cal. 1030 with the 6610.

Rolex Explorer Monochrome

The Explorer in movies

1958 was the time where the most infamous explorer debuted, the Explorer 1016. This reference personally has a huge part in me keeping the explorer. For one, the 1016 has been described by James Bond aficionados as the true James Bond watch. Why is that? It’s because in the books, Ian Fleming would put his personal items to James Bond and the watch is not an exception.

There’s a post in the Rolex forums documenting that WatchTime magazine ran a featured article on their February 2009 issue of the actual 1016 Ian Fleming wore.  The line that gave it away most was quoted from the book “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, “Here we read of the “big luminous numerals” that Bond sees when taking a lazy midnight glance at his chronometer, “A heavy Rolex Oyster Perpetual on an expanding metal bracelet.”

Moving forward with the legacy

It’s not only until 1990 where Rolex decided it’s time to finally move on. The 14270 was born with a calibre 3000 based on the 3035 and sapphire crystal. Afterwards, the 114270 with the calibre 3130 a decade later. Throughout this time, the explorer remained true with a 36mm size (or 35.5 for those wants the exact number). Of course, this marks the last of the 36mm Rolex.

Rolex Explorer Dial

15 years later in Baselworld 2016, Rolex decided to finally put the explorer in-line with a more modern size with the release of the 214270 at 39mm. Size is not the only thing that changed as there’s been a considerable improvement over the predecessor such as a new balance hairspring, better antimagnetic properties and a calibre 3132.

Where to now?

For such a watch with a history, no doubt the Explorer line will continue. You might be asking now, which explorer do I buy? It depends. I find the 36mm explorer a classic. a 14270 and 114270 will last you a long time. If one prefers something bigger, the 214270 at 39mm will suit that and also the biggest wrist.

Disclaimer – Do note that its less popular brother the Explorer 2 was not mentioned, but eventually we’ll cover that topic.

Sources :

The Watch Book Rolex by Gisbert L. Brunner.

https://www.rolexforums.com/showthread.php?t=120138

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