If your travel bucket list includes scaling Mt. Everest, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or extreme ocean adventuring, the Rolex Explorer should be on your radar.

The rugged Explorer boasts a wicked history while maintaining Rolex’s iconic style, but it often goes overlooked in the watch world.

Related: Top Watches for Boating this Summer

The History

First launched in 1953 as THE ultimate expedition and mountaineering watch, the Rolex Explorer is inspired by the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by a two-man team equipped with Rolex Oyster Perpetual chronometers.  Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the highest summit in the world at 8,848 meters- a feat only an elite few have accomplished since.

Climbers often reach altitudes parallel with commercial jets and face temps below -50 F, while performing with 70% less oxygen than at sea level.  Extreme adventurists require even more powerful tools. Enter the Rolex Oyster.

Several early Himalayan expeditions from the 1930s onward utilized the Rolex Oyster as their sole timepiece.  The Everest conquest marked Rolex supreme in the adventuring world, and the Explorer release solidified the status.

See also: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Simple Luxury

The Watch

The Explorer has seen just a few variations and upgrades over the years, and it’s ruggedness and reliability remain constant.  It was among the first in a series of Rolex watches designed specifically for professionals.  Professional badass in this case.

Having been tested in the most brutal conditions imaginable, the Explorer is perfect for any extreme excursion, with its indestructible, all-steel bracelet and double waterproofness system.

Read more here: Exploring the Explorer

Dial and Bezel

The Explorer has an iconic flat black dial and smooth bezel, but if you’re looking for another option- consider the Explorer II, offered with both black and white dials.

Another added feature of the Explorer II is the 24-hour bezel.  Unlike the usual 12 hour dedicated hand, this particular 24 hour hand enables the user to distinguish daytime hours from that of the night.  This feature is essential for those that venture through the darkness of caves or into the constant daylight of summertime polar regions.


The newest Explorer models feature an entire luminescent display for enhanced visuals.  In addition to the traditional hour markers and hands, the iconic 3, 6, and 9 numerals are also filled with luminescent material.

In addition, the hands are broader and longer for legibility in any condition.


Case and Bracelet

The Explorer uses 904L stainless steel for both the 39 mm case and bracelet, which is a special blend made exclusively by Rolex featured in many models.

The Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to a dept of 100 metres (330 feet), further showcasing its robustness. Its scratch proof crystal and special Paraflex shock resistant technology are prepared to withstand any circumstance and atmosphere.

A Rolex-patented Easylink extension system is featured on the bracelet, allowing adjustability up to 5 mm for maximum comfort.


The Technical Specs

Model Case – 39 mm Oyster Steel

Diameter – 39 mm

Material – 904L Steel

Bezel –Smooth

Winding Crown – Screw down, Triplock double waterproofness

Water Resistance – 100 metres/330 feet

Dial – black

Clasp – Folding Oysterlock with Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link

Bracelet – Oystersteel

Calibre – 3132

Movement – Perpetual, self-winding, mechanical

Final Thoughts

No need to be a professional badass to own a Rolex Explorer, but bonus points if you enjoy conquering mountains, belly crawling your way through deep caves, or trekking across subzero degree terrain.

This rugged watch is perfect for the adventurous spirit, but just as easily dresses up for the office or an evening out.  The classic black dial and Rolex Oystersteel make the Explorer perfect for those that want to make a low-key statement.


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

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