Rolex watches are renowned worldwide for their construction and reliability. In fact, each Rolex watch undergoes extreme testing before it is allowed to go on sale. The unique oyster case design dates from 1926 and is an instantly recognizable feature of each Rolex watch. The case gets its name because it clamps shut just like an oyster shell. The case survives underwater because of its design which includes a screw-down back and bezel and a waterproof winding crown. In 1927, a young swimmer named Mercedes Gleitze swam the English Channel wearing a Rolex Oyster watch. The swimmer’s watch was functioning well following more than ten hours in cold water. The Rolex Explorer is a worthy descendent of this design and is one of Rolex’s most iconic watches.
The Rolex Explorer’s Fascinating History
1953 is the year when Sir Edmund Hillary and his team famously reached the summit of Mt. Everest. At 29,029 ft. (8,848 meters), Mt. Everest is the highest mountain in the world. On the ascent, the climbers endured extreme weather conditions. Legend has it that each climber wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch which functioned properly and kept accurate time. To commemorate this feat and honor the watches worn, Rolex introduced the Rolex Explorer in the same year.
Why the Rolex Explorer is Unique
The Rolex Explorer was specifically designed to withstand extreme elements found in all kinds of explorations. The watch is made from extremely hard, anti-corrosive 904L steel and is highly waterproof to 330 feet (100 meters). Its self-winding movement utilizes a special lubrication, enabling it to function at extreme temperatures.
The Updated Design of the Rolex Explorer
The original design of the Rolex Explorer was quite minimalist. Since its inception in 1953, the watch has been redesigned for a sleek and sophisticated look. The modern Rolex Explorer, introduced in 2010, is built with a stylish stainless steel case and bracelet. The bracelet has a double-locking mechanism and a half-link adjustment. Today’s Rolex weighs in at 2.1 lbs. and measures 39mm, only a little larger than the 36mm original.
Easy to Read Dial
The Rolex Explorer is available with an easy-to-read sapphire dial window in either white or matte black. Sapphire is a very durable crystal, about three times harder than mineral crystals and twenty times harder than acrylic crystals. Its glow-in-the-dark Chromalight hands and hour markers glow twice as long those of other watches using only standard luminescent materials.
The Rolex Explorer II
In 1971, the Rolex Explorer II became available. It is specifically designed to be worn by cave divers. The watch features an orange-colored, 24-hour hand. The orange color is extremely useful where adventurers can’t distinguish between day or night because they can’t see the sun. This capability also makes the watch useful for explorations in polar regions. Early Explorer II models came with a large orange arrow at the end of the orange 24-hour hand. Later models feature a white arrow at the end of a slimmer orange 24-hour hand. Other features of the Explorer II are a date window and a bezel with 24-hour graduations. The Explorer II has a stainless steel case and bracelet and is available with either a white or black dial.
The Rolex Explorer and Rolex Explorer II are the perfect watches to wear on any adventurous exploration. They are especially ideal where extreme conditions are likely to be encountered. Whether the experience is above the earth or below it, the Rolex Explorer is the perfect time-keeping companion. To quote Rolex:
“Look in all the dictionaries, there is no word for what we do. It’s not ‘tradition’, though our craft is timeless. ‘Limitless’ is too limiting. ‘Enduring’ is not enduring enough. ‘Innovation’ can only begin to describe it. We sculpt, paint and explore. But explorers, sculptors and painters we are not. This is the only thing we make. The only thing we will ever make. There is no word for what we do. There’s only a way. The Rolex Way.”