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Rolex Explorer

The Rolex Explorer, released in 1953, is an enduring symbol of perseverance and adventure. Born from the first successful ascent of Mount Everest, it was designed for the rugged needs of climbers and adventurers. Its clean, highly legible dial, sturdy stainless steel case, and robust...

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Rolex Explorer

The Rolex Explorer, released in 1953, is an enduring symbol of perseverance and adventure. Born from the...

Buy Rolex Watches  |  Sell My Rolex

About Rolex Explorer

The Rolex Explorer is a take on Rolex on-field watch. It has developed out of the deep involvement of Rolex with exploration. That’s where the collection got its name from. The Rolex Explorer has become one of the leading sports watches. The brand has tested the reliability of Explorer watches in the toughest environments. The collection has elegant designs that make Explorer watches a perfect companion for your offices, exploration tours, and on the go.

Historical Overview of Rolex Explorer

Rolex launched its Explorer collection in 1953. However, the history of this collection starts from decades ago to its launch. Rolex has always been a brand that’s passionate about pushing boundaries, especially when it’s about its watch’s reliability and water resistance.

In the early 1920s, the Oyster case worked as a breakthrough for improved water resistance. About 10 years after this case development, Rolex started sending its watches for mountain expeditions with the mission of developing a perfect watch for explorers.

In 1953, the ultimate test of Rolex Explorer was run when the early prototypes of the collection adorned Sir Edmund Hillary's wrists. After the final expedition, Rolex was all-set to launch Explorer as an ultimate expedition and field watch.

Popular Rolex Explorer Models

From the earlier Explorer watches to the modern-day models, a lot has changed in the collection. Although Rolex Explorer I and II have similar names, they boast different models. Each collection has its functionality, evolution, history, and features. A few Oyster Perpetual references refer to pre-Explorer.

  • It’s agreed that the first Rolex Explorer was 6350, with a collection name on its dial. This model featured a 36mm stainless steel case, a time-only black dial, and a steel oyster bracelet. These fundamental design features remained unchanged for the next five decades in Explorer watches.
  • Explorer 6610 was launched in the mid-1950s. This model number featured a slimmer case because of the thinner watch movement.
  • Ref. 1016 was the next Explorer watch in the line featuring 1560 movement and enhanced water resistance. Rolex produced this Explorer ref between 1963 and 1983.
  • Next, 14270 was introduced by Rolex in the late 1980s with modern enhancements and 3000 caliber movement.
  • Rolex unveiled Explorer 114270 in the early 2000s. This watch featured an updated 3130 caliber movement and solid end links on its Oyster bracelet.
  • Ref. 214270 brought the biggest change in Explore Collection. Rolex announced the first-ever introduced a bigger case size, i.e., 39mm in Explorer, in 2010. This reference features Caliber 3132 movement.

Rolex Explorer Features

Let’s have a look at the key features of Rolex Explorer to know more about it:


When it’s about complications, Explorer is a time-only watch. Therefore these watches feature a different movement set than Explorer II. The latest movements powering the Explorer’s current production feature the latest Paraflex shock absorbers. These ensure better stability, shock resistance, and resistance against temperature variations and magnetism.

Since 2015, the mechanical movements of Rolex possess a -2/+2 seconds accuracy rate per day. These movements exceed COSC-rated chronometers standards.


Rolex Explorer has specifically developed as a tool watch to withstand the toughest environments. Therefore, the brand has created this collection only in stainless steel. The Rolex Explorer never has solid or two-tone gold versions, unlike other Rolex watch collections. However, the type of stainless steel used in Explorer watches has evolved over time from 316L to 904L stainless steel. The current version of stainless steel used in Explorer watches an incredibly corrosion-resistant superalloy. This superalloy is more commonly used in chemical and space industries. However, this specific stainless-steel blend is referred to as Oystersteel.


Rolex Explorer has different case sizes than Rolex Explorer II. Although Rolex Explorer has been increasing in the case size of watches, Rolex Explorer II watches are still always bigger than Explorer I.

Over decades Rolex Explorer watches have only grown from 36mm to 39mm in case sizes. Here is the size guide of Rolex Explorer:

  • Ref. 6350, 6610, 1016, 14270, and 114270 have 36mm case sizes.
  • Only 214270 reference number has a 39mm case size.

Modern Explorer watches also feature Twinlock winding crowns with double-sealed zones for enhanced moisture prevention. This system plays a key role in guaranteeing waterproofness in Explorer watches.

Celebrities Wearing The Rolex Explorer

The Rolex Explorer is a popular sports watch. Due to its toughness and reliability, the Explorer collection is one of the top favorites of countless individuals globally. Rolex Explorer watches are popular for multiple reasons, including improved water resistance, functional and simple design, in-house and certified calibers, etc.

Celebrities, athletes, adventurers, and military personnel love owning a Rolex Explorer watch. Let’s look at the list below to know about the popular celebrities wearing the Rolex Explorer to better understand its desirability.

  • Jason Statham
  • Prince Harry
  • Ian Fleming
  • Jon Hamm
  • Tom Hanks
  • Matt Damon
  • Tom Hardy
  • Brad Pit
  • Izabel Goulart
  • Matt Damon, among various others.

Vintage Rolex Explorer Models

Vintage Explorer models are pretty popular among Rolex enthusiasts and luxury watch collectors. 14270 ref. replaced 1016 in 1989. The models are available with 1560 or 1570 movements. Vintage Black Out edition of ref. 14270 is particularly popular among collectors. This reference number is because of its enhanced durability, uniqueness and rarity.

Ref. 1655 is another popular vintage Explorer model named Steve McQueen Rolex. Even though Steve McQueen didn't own Explorer 1655 model, this will forever be called Steve McQueen Rolex. Although the Rolex Explorer 1655 wasn’t popular then, now it’s a more popular vintage Rolex among collecting circles.

Why Is The Rolex Explorer So Desirable?

Plenty of luxury watch collectors and Rolex enthusiasts are after Rolex Explorer. It is mainly because the collection has the most versatile watches that make it unravel. Moreover, the simple and lush black dials can let you pair your watch beautifully with any suit. At the same time, three larger numerals make it a perfect option for your casual looks. Rolex has also combined the elegant design of Explorer watches with durable movement and enhanced water resistance features.

Therefore, having a Rolex means you have a perfect watch that can go anywhere with you.

Buying a Rolex Explorer

If you're looking to purchase a Rolex Explorer, please don't hesitate to give us a call at (213) 302-4400, so that we may further assist you in your watch purchase.

If you are looking to sell a Rolex Explorer look no further, WatchGuys is the most trusted place to sell a Rolex for best price. Give us a call today at (213) 302-4400 to speak to a Rolex buying expert or click here to fill out our sell Rolex form.


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