Updated: May 6, 2022
The Explorer is one of the most historically significant timepieces produced by Rolex due to it being the first wristwatch to reach the peak of Mount Everest with two very brave men. It was a feat that has made this magnificent timepiece highly sought after even today. The most current model of the Explorer offered by Rolex has a 36 mm sized case timepiece in steel and a polished bezel, an Oysterlock bracelet, and a black dial with the numerals 3, 6, and 9 engraved on it. It is highly regarded for its accuracy and durability.
One of the most recognizable features of the Rolex Explorer is its dial. The earliest model, the 6098, featured a white dial and arrow-shaped markers and hands. It was later revised to have a stunning black Quarter Arabic dial and was renamed model 6298. Next was model 6150, on which the name “Explorer” first appeared. It came with Mercedes style hands and a Quarter Arabic black dial, with only 3, 6, and 9 marked. The 6150 eventually became model 6350 and featured a distinctive honeycomb texture with the words “Officially Certified Chronometer” signed above the numeral 6. However, model 6350 wasn’t nearly as popular as model 6150 had been because the earlier model had been 2mm larger and was made with the sole intent of being a precision model.
The Rolex Explorer experienced numerous changes over the years. The first major change was the unveiling of model 6610, which bore a striking resemblance to model 6150 save for its flatter back and the engraving of the word “Chronometer.” By The 1950’s, the single word had evolved into “Superlative Chronometer Officially Certified.” Mercedes style hands also replaced the pencil style hands.
Other models such as a model named Air King had Explorer attributes, yet were not easily recognized as Rolex Explorer models. The Air King, model 5500, had an Explorer dial but was a smaller wristwatch that had a 19mm bracelet rather than the standard 20mm bracelet nearly every other Rolex Explorer featured. Additionally, “Precision” or “Super Precision” was marked above the numeral 6.
Perhaps the most demanded model among the Explorer timepieces, however, is model 1016 Space-Dweller. Limited in numbers and primarily sold in Japan, it was the first model released to commemorate NASA’s Mercury astronauts visit to the Land of the Rising Sun. A second version of the rare timepiece had a “hack” feature in the movement which allowed the wearer of the Rolex Space-Dweller to easily synchronize the watch to a known time source.
In 1990, Rolex released another Explorer model, model 14270. It was an entirely redesigned model that sported an innovative new movement, case, dial, and beautiful sapphire crystal. Only the hands and the dial were identical to that of the model 1016, but perhaps the most alluring features of this new timepiece were its remarkable gold skeleton markers with Tritium fillings and the 3000 caliber movement that powered the timepiece with breathtaking precision.
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