The Climber’s Timer: Testing the Rolex Explorer I (With Video)

Rolex Explorer I - front angleWatchTime spent some time with the 2010 model of Rolex’s classic Oyster Perpetual Explorer — a watch originally made for a Mount Everest expedition and recently revamped with a larger case and modern caliber. Scroll down to read our test of the watch from the magazine, along with original photos by Nik Schölzel.

The 1950s were a decade of adventure. Mankind strived to conquer nature, to descend to the depths of the ocean’s trenches and to climb to the peaks of the world’s tallest mountains. The first mountaineers reached the summit of Annapurna, more than 26,000 feet above sea level, in 1950. Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, in 1953. Seven years later, the bathyscaph Trieste descended to the planet’s deepest point: the bottom of the Marianas Trench, more than 35,000 feet below sea level. It should come as no surprise, then, that the decade also saw the debut of two Rolex watches tailored to adventurous pursuits: the Submariner divers’ watch and the Explorer expedition watch, both in 1953.

The first Explorer watches were provided as tools for the successful Everest expedition of May 1953. Rolex released a modified version of the Explorer later that year, with a black dial and painted-on luminous indices and numerals, which made it more legible under all lighting conditions. This model was designed to live up to the promise implicit in its name, by satisfying all the requirements of expeditions and other adventures. The Explorer underwent more improvements over the years and, beginning with the 1989 model, it was also designed to be more luxurious. Its indices and numerals have been made of gold since then, although there is still luminous material inlaid into the indices.

The latest version of the Explorer, launched in 2010, has a bigger case: 39 millimeters, versus the previous model’s 36 millimeters. It also has a new type of shock absorber, along with an in-house, Parachrom hairspring and a new Oysterlock folding clasp. (Click on photos for larger images.)

Rolex Explorer I - front angle

The dial’s proportions look good in the new 39-mm case, but the minute hand is too short.


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About Jens Koch


  1. fraser stewart says:

    My next watch, classic stainless steel rolex sport watch. Love the clean dial free of the date like my 14060, understated yet elegant.

  2. Paul says:

    Explorer I design is timeless.

  3. Debashish says:

    I think this Rolex timepiece is simply awesome!

  4. Oumaima says:

    Thanks Erik and Jake for this great expose on a ba u tee ful ROLEX SUBMARINER !BTW, if you dig a litlte Jake, there was a white gold Sub mfg\'d probably around the early 80\'s. I think Larry K might of owned one at one time...Thanks,Randy

  5. Will says:

    Rolex designs are visually amazing...iconic, in fact. I wish that lower end watch designers would understand the appeal of iconic design, instead of the cluttered clunkly look that some inexpensive watch makers produce. A clean, spare aesthetic is more timeless than a clunky looking cheap design.

  6. Frost says:

    Actually after buying Explorer II,
    Explorer I seems to be more charming than before :)

    Explorer II is also wonderful, but it\'s not an excuse for missing I :)

  7. manuel santiago says:

    as a rolex owner the date is a must

    • James says:

      I thought the date was just

  8. Jonathan Price says:

    You have the retail price wrong. It is $6550

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