Rolex Explorer I Review

Discussion in 'Watch Reviews' started by barbrine, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. barbrine

    barbrine

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    Rolex Explorer I is highly recognizable, from the historical review followed, some of them even are very rare and precious, here is the original resource at http://www.rolex-chat.com/a-complete-review-of-rolex-explorer-i.html

    Rolex Explorer I has always been one of the most popular and attractive watches, black dial and 3-6-9 Arabic numeral hour markers gave Explorer I charming style – elegant and sports. It was the favorite of celebrities and has been reported by many popular watch magazines, even Explorer I has become the darling of fashion in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. The initiator leading this trend was Takuya Kimura in the film Love Generation. Because Love Generation was very hot, the crystal apple that appeared occasionally in the movie, the Explorer I Ref. 14270 Takuya Kimura wore and other related items, they therefore became the center of public attention.(You feel exaggerated ? So imagine that: in the film Beautiful Life, which was played by Takuya Kimura and Takako Tokiwa, there were even some people rushed to buy the wheelchair that was sat by Takako Tokiwa, you could realize the craziness of groupies.)

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    Love Generation still: left is crystal apple, the right shows Takuya Kimura was wearing Explorer 14270.

    Leaving groupies' fanaticism, Explorer I itself was actually a very attractive watch, besides its technological achievements, there were full of historical allusions behind the sports and elegant appearance of Explorer I, like Rolex's other sports models. Although the latest Explorer I Ref. 114270 was still similar to 14270 in appearance, it has a few modifications, the most obvious was the original 3-6-9 luminous hour markers have been replaced by metal markers, case design, movement and crystal glass also had slight changes.

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    In the mind of most watch fans, Explorer I was the watch which Rolex specially designed for the project of Himalayan and Everest expedition. On May 29, 1953, this watch accompanied a British expedition, which was composed by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, and completed a historic pioneering of human summit. Although this story was incomparably legendary and fascinating, it had some gaps with the truth. First, Rolex indeed has been sponsoring Himalayan expedition since 1933, about the subsequent Everest expedition, Rolex was also the official sponsor, and for every expedition, Rolex has sponsored wristwatches to equip. However, Rolex was not the only sponsor, it was said that the watch which Edmund Hillary was wearing at that time was sponsored by Smith, a British watch company. But Tenzing Norgay was indeed wearing a Explorer watch, on July 19, 1988, this watch was auctioned at Sotheby's in London, now it was collected in the Rolex Museum in Geneva. Was Explorer really the first watch that climbed to the summit of Everest ? Maybe this question would have no answer forever, because Hillary and Norgay has persistently refused to say who was the first to set foot on the summit, and they always said that climbing Everest summit was completed by them together.

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    Tenzing Norgay Edmund Hillary: Tenzing was wearing Explorer on his left hand.

    Checked the Explorer watch Tenzing Norgay wore, it did have Explorer's classic black dial and 3-6-9 luminous hour markers, the watch featured luminous straight hands, not our familiar Mercedes hands, the rounded luminous dot of central second hand was bigger than the one of present models. It was worth noting that the word on the dial of this Explorer watch was "Precision", rather than the "Explorer". Besides, according to Sotheby's record, the watch adopted an Bubble Back. Inferred based on these characteristics, this watch should be Ref. 6350. At that time, Rolex often engraved the watch's production date on the inner side of the case back, Tenzing Norgay's Ref. 6350 was IV 53, which meant it was manufactured in April 1953, it could be seen that before the climbing Everest summit of Hillary and Norgay, Rolex didn't officially name Ref. 6350 for Explorer, although Rolex registered "Explorer" trademark in Geneva on January 26, 1953, it was the time after Hillary and Norgay's climbing Everest summit expedition that Explorer's name was formally established, that was, Ref. 6350, which was produced after this expedition in 1953, was just added the name – Explorer. After a period of groping, Rolex developed Explorer I to be a fixed style and classic masterpiece.

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    Explorer Ref. 6350 Ads, theme was the Everest expedition.

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    Whatever, Ref. 6350 Explorer was indeed a functional watch which Rolex specially designed to meet the needs of explorers. Ref. 6350 Explorer's dial was highly readable, its case also has been enhanced in particular, and according to different needs, you could use special lubricant, which made this watch operate accurately at -20℃ to +40℃ and doesn't be affected by viscosity's change, so whether before or after Hillary and Norgay's climbing Everest summit, many explorers have relied on Ref. 6350 as their timing equipments. In fact, the most characteristic dial of Explorer I didn't come from a new design idea, for example, the large triangle mark at 12 o'clock has already been wiedly used in the 1930s and 1940s in those Rolex watches that adopted Arabic and Roman numerals dial, while the 3-6-9 and bar hour markers could also be founed in those early Cushion Oyster watches. However, these elements that have appeared were combined and presented in a unique form, created Explorer's distinctive and classic image.

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    Explorer Ref. 1016 Ads in 1975


    James M. Dowling, the author of The Best of Time. Rolex Wristwatches: An Unauthorized History, according to his studies, in the beginning, Rolex obviously was not sure of Explorer's market potential, so Rolex placed Explorer's name on other series models. Air King Explorer was the most famous example, Air King Explorer meant that some Ref. 5500 Air King models used Explorer's 3-6-9 black luminous dial, but the mark on their dial was Precision, rather than Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified. Another example was Dress Explorers, which meant some Oyster Perpetual watches adopted non-Explorer-style dial, they used metal hour markers and hands, but their dial was printed "Explorer" word, including Explorer Date Ref. 5700 and Explorer No Date Ref. 5504, these Explorers were very rare and precious, they were manufactured around the 50s and 60s, the earliest model could be traced back to Ref. 6298, which was made in 1953, finally these watches were discontinued because of Rolex Explorer's hot sale.

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    Explorer Ref. 5500, ever auctioned by Antiquorum.

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    Dial and bracelet of Ref. 5500.

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    Explorer Ref. 6150, ever auctioned by Antiquorum.

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    Explorer Ref. 6298, ever auctioned by Antiquorum.

    Explorer Ref. 6350 was produced in 1953 for only about one year or so, then it was replaced by Ref. 6150 in the same year. The black dial of most Explorer Ref. 6350 was printed "Officially Certified Chronometer" words, the dial even had unique Honeycomb decoration. Ref. 6150 and Ref. 6350 all adopted A296 movement, but the case diameter of the latter was 2mm larger than the former, Ref. 6350 were all Precision models. Ref. 6150 was discontinued in 1959 and replaced by Ref. 6610. Ref. 6610 looked the similar to Ref. 6150 in appearance, but Ref. 6610 was equipped with the new Calibre 1310 movement, the original Bubble Back was also changed to be flat. All these early Explorer watches were not steel made, all of the printed text on the dial, Rolex logo and minute-scale, they all featured golden colour.

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    Explorer Ref. 6350′s unique honeycomb dial.

    After Ref. 6610 being produced for five years, Explorer Ref. 1016 was launched in 1963. Among all of the Explorer watches, Ref. 1016 owned the longest product life and was the most Explorer model, until the appearance of Ref. 14270 in 1989. Explorer Ref. 1016 and Ref. 6610 almost had the same appearance, but Ref. 1016 used Calibre 1560 movement, its waterproof depth was also improved from 50 meters to 100 meters. In the long period of 26-year production, Explorer Ref. 1016 also had some slight changes. For example, the first generation Ref. 1016 was modified in 1975, the movement was changed into Calibre 1570, which was improved from Calibre 1560 and equipped with hack function, the Oyster bracelet also started to use steel solid end-links(SEL).

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    Explorer Ref. 6610, ever auctioned by Antiquorum.

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    In 1989, Ref. 14270 was introduced, this was a watch which all our watch fans were familiar with. Compared with Ref. 1016, besides the unchanged Explorer name and Benz hands, Ref. 14270 had many changes in appearance and movement: adopted high frequency Calibre 3000 movement, glass face was sapphire crystal, the case was re-designed, the original printed luminous markers, including hour markers, triangle mark at 12 o'clock and 3-6-9 luminous Arabic numerals, were all changed into another style – K gold frame with Tritium coating. These changes did make 14270 look elegant and modern, but many watch fans still could not forget the sports and adventurous style of Ref. 1016, in addition to the gradually decreased quantity, the price of Ref. 1016 has gone up several times in recent years, generally twice higher than the price of a new 14270 watch.

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    Dial of Explorer Ref. 1016

    In 2001, 114270 was introduced, it was equipped with Calibre 3130. Whether the antique Explorer Ref. 6350, 1016, its previous 14270 or the present Explorer 114270, Rolex Explorer I has always kept simple appearance and function, stainless steel case and bracelet, self winding movement, black 3-6-9 dial, at first glance, it was really unremarkable. But maybe because of the truth – "simple is best", the more you taste Explorer I slowly, the more it would exude unmatched attraction. More amazing, Explorer I not only attracted favors from men, even female consumers were often attracted by its modern and sports style. Many watch fans could not understand that the low complicated Explorer I could be sold at a high price and even induced snapping, but did really need a reason to express your love for a watch ?
  2. RW16610

    RW16610

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    A good review of this fine watch and it's rich history :thumbsup: Got to love the Explorer :yahoo: :thankyou: very much for posting this here :cheers:
  3. Aerome

    Aerome

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    Nice review and history. Thanks.
  4. Neptune's Lair

    Neptune's Lair

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    Nice read. Thanks for posting! Didn't know about the Japanese films.
  5. SPACE-DWELLER

    SPACE-DWELLER

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    Thanks for sharing! :goodpost:
  6. colemanitis

    colemanitis

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    Awesome review! Thanks for sharing it with us! :thankyou:

    I'm going to move this to the Watch Reviews forum. :cheers:
  7. garpesce

    garpesce

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    thank you for your insightful portrayal of the explorer 1. i have enjoyed mine since 1968. mine is a bit unique, since it has no case number. the case was one of 12 that rolex factory pressure-tested to 2000 ft, they all passed. case backs and crystals caved a bit, but no water entered the chambers. there were no movements in the cases. the cases were sent to rolex usa for inspection by our repair service department. they were so proud of these exemplary products. they buzzed about it for weeks.
    i worked up a print ad for our national advertising program. our management liked it and sent it to geneva for their approval and possible use in international advertising. geneva was impressed but disapproved the concept because it was a bit too aggressive in it's implied statement that the explorer would be waterproof to the 2000 ft depth.
    it happened at about the time that the ftc issued new guidelines for watch promotional claims, "waterproof" was replaced with "water-resistant". i can't recall for certain, but that may have been the time when explorer's depth claim went from 165ft to 330ft. i thought you might be interested to know this.
  8. pawnshopkiller

    pawnshopkiller

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    This is the first time I have ran across this thread. It is awesome.
  9. SSD

    SSD

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    Me, too, I don't see how I missed it? A great read, thanks for taking the time to assemble and post it!!!
  10. Carl

    Carl

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    :goodpost: I spend so much time on the watch forums, yet I missed your thread until tonight. It's off to bed now, so I just had a minute to glance at it. I will definitely read it through in a day or two when I have more time. It looks fascinating, and you obviously put a lot of work into it!
    Thanks!

    Cheers :cheers:
    Carl