The Rolex Explorer launched in 1953 to celebrate the achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reaching the summit of Mount Everest. Initially released as a single watch ref: 6350, the first Explorer came with a self-winding chronometer-certified movement housed in a stainless steel case with matching Oyster bracelet.
This watch was followed by Explorer ref: 6610, which updated the movement but kept the same case, dial and hand treatment. It wasn’t until the launch of ref: 1016 in 1963 that the watch received its first major update. This version introduced the style elements which have become synonymous with the Explorer including the distinctive 3-6-9 dial configuration and the triangular marker at twelve-o-clock.Two versions of the Rolex Explorer are available:
The Rolex Explorer I ref: 14270 was launched at the Basel Fair in 1989. The watch takes inspiration from the original ref: 6350 with its simple elegant design. clean bezel, unadorned black dial with 3-6-9 quarter-hour markers and the trademark triangular marker at twelve-o-clock.
The Explorer I has a relatively small case size for a modern Rolex. This makes it a popular choice for both men and women. Pre 2010 ref: 14270 models have a case size of just 36mm. In 2010 ref: 214270 was released which updated the movement to the latest 3032 calibre and increased the case size to 39mm.
The Explorer II ref: 1655 was released in 1971. This watch came with a date indicator at 3-o-clock and a larger fixed bezel which housed an additional 24-hour indicator. True to the watch's name, this feature was designed to aid professional cavers who need reliable temporal orientation independent of the outside world.
The original watch featured a Cal. 1575GMT movement and 39mm case. This was increased to 40mm in 1985 when the watch gained a Cal. 16550 movement. An updated Cal. 3085 movement was introduced in 1989, but the case and dial remained unchanged. The current iteration of the watch ref: 216570 was launched in 2011 and uses a modern Cal. 3187 movement. This version also introduced a choice of black or white dials.The Explorer is the embodiment of man's need for achievement.