Rolex shocked the community this year with the two-tone Explorer release. See all the updates on this new Explorer!

It’s no surprise this update was hit with loads of negative feedback.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Rolex deviates from tradition. Fans express their disgust. Then collectors eventually embrace the update and the model is a winner.

Related: A Look at the 2021 Rolex Explorer (ref. 124270)

Let’s take a closer look at the new Rolex two-tone explorer!

A Rolex Explorer Overview

First, some background info is helpful to understand the Rolex purist outrage surrounding this release.

The first Rolex Explorer launched in 1953 as the ultimate expedition and mountaineering watch. It was aimed at professional mountain climbers, adventurists, and extreme outdoor sports enthusiasts.

Rolex tested the Explorer through brutal and extreme conditions. Sub 50 degree temperatures, low oxygen levels, and the worst conditions you’d expect to find atop the world’s highest mountain.

The Explorer was basically indestructible with it s all-steel bracelet and double waterproofness system.

Now, why would Rolex go and add a soft (and easily nicked) metal to this iconic watch?


Rolex released two new models this year. We reviewed the more traditional stainless steel version here.

The second Explorer is two-tone Rolesor, a combination of steel and yellow gold. Why is that a big deal? The original Explorer has only ever seen stainless steel.

It’s actually had few updates since its original release. Sure, there have been tweaks with size and complications here and there. But nothing gasp worthy like this.

On the other hand, Explorer IIs come in any number of bezel, dial, and material configurations.

Rolex purists can’t get behind a tool watch like the Explorer featuring yellow gold. Yellow gold is prone to scratch from everyday wear. But put yellow gold on a professional mountain hiker? It’s not logical.

Rolex knows logic doesn’t always pay off. This release is another test to push the limits of what was.

Next, we’ll address some of the other core updates.


The case reverts to its original size at 36 mm. It’s new with slimmer lugs that taper down to a smaller bracelet.

However, the lug to lug width is 45.5 mm, which gives the watch a larger feel.

In addition, the new Explorer’s surfaces have been optimized for light reflection, showing off the case finishing.


Dial variations are nothing new for the Explorer. The new two toned version brings back vintage vibes with the black piano gloss style, now called the black lacquer dial.

The dial also features the new and improved Chromalight lume that lasts longer and shines brighter.


The oyster bracelet starts at 19 mm wide, then tapers down to 14 mm at the clasp. It may seem slim, but overall feels rock solid compared with past versions. 

It features the Oysterlock folding clasp which prevents accidental opening. An Easylink comfort extension link provides the wearer an additional 5 mm in length.


The 36mm two-tone Explorer features the 3230 movement. This updated movement was introduced last year inside the Submariner, OP 36, and OP 41.

As with all new Rolex technology, new patents were filed that offer gains in precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.

Technical Specifications

Model Case – Oyster, 36 mm, Oystersteel and yellow gold

Diameter – 36 mm

Material – 904L Steel

Bezel –Smooth

Winding Crown – Screw down, Triplock double waterproofness

Water Resistance – 100 metres/330 feet

Dial – black lacquer

Clasp – Folding Oysterlock with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link

Bracelet – Oyster, flat three-piece links

Bracelet material – Yellow Rolesor – combination of Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold

Calibre – 3230

Movement – Perpetual, self-winding, mechanical

Final Thoughts on the Two-Tone Explorer

Although it’s a deviation from the original design, it’s growing on us. Rolex took the risk, and we think it’s a smart move overall. Plus, it still keeps a classic vibe with the smaller case size and original glossy dial.

In addition, since Rolex released an updated stainless steel version, there’s really nothing to complain about.

The Explorer may not be a true tool watch anymore but it’s definitely becoming more relevant as we speak.

If you are interested in purchasing your own Rolex Explorer, give us a call. Check out our Facebook page for box openings and watch reviews by our in-house watch expert Sergio Nuncio!

You can keep up with Jonathan’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even follow our personal Instagram accounts below:

Sergio Nuncio

Jay Freedman

Kiefer Nuncio

Similar Posts