AN ICONIC HIGH-ALTITUDE COMPANION
LAUNCHED IN 1953 AS THE ULTIMATE EXPEDITION AND MOUNTAINEERING WATCH, THE EXPLORER DRAWS ON DECADES OF EXPERIENCE OF ROLEX IN THE HIMALAYAS, CULMINATING WITH THE CONQUEST OF MOUNT EVEREST THAT VERY YEAR BY AN EXPEDITION EQUIPPED WITH ROLEX OYSTER PERPETUAL CHRONOMETERS.
When you climb to the kind of altitudes usually reached by a cruising commercial airliner and brave temperatures as low as -50 ̊C (-58̊ F), icy precipices, deadly winds and 70% less oxygen in the air, you need the right fear. This is why many of the pioneering expeditions that have scaled Himalayan peaks since the 1930s have relied on Rolex Oyster watched as their trusted timepieces. Members of the British expedition led by Hugh Ruttledge managed to climb 8,580 metres (28,150 feet) up Mount Everest in 1933, less than 300m (984 feet) short of the summit. Twenty years and many attempts later, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing Norgay finally conquered the top of the world on 29 May 1953, their expedition was equipped with Rolex Oyster Perpetual chronometers. The epic feat was so emblematic of the qualities of precision and reliability associated with the Oyster watch that the brand marked the occasion with the launch of a dedicated model in 1953: the Rolex Explorer. It benefitted from all the technical know-how gained during the Himalayan expeditions over the decades to make it the most rugged of all Oysters. Together with the Submariner diving watch launched the same year, it was among the first in a series of watches specifically by Rolex as “tools” for professional users. The Explorer has gained iconic status ever since.
SIR JOHN HUNT'S TRIBUTE
In a letter to Rolex, Sir John Hunt, leader of the successful expedition to Everest, praised the decisive role played by the Oyster Perpetual watches: “We were delighted that they kept such accurate time, this ensured that synchronisation of time between the members of the team was maintained throughout. And the Oyster case lived up to its reputation, gained on many previous Everest expeditions, for protecting the movement. Our Rolex Oysters were completely waterproof, unharmed by immersion in snow, and withstood the extreme change of temperature from the warm humidity of the foothills to the great cold at the high camps. Last, but not least, the Perpetual self-winding mechanism relieved the team from the trouble of winding their watches. At heights of over 20,000 feet this is really necessary, because the mind slows up and such details as winding watches are liable to be forgotten. There was no need to slip off warm gloves to attend this detail.” And he concluded: “We have indeed come to look up Rolex Oysters as an important part of high climbing equipment.”
oyster perpetual chronometer (1953)
A TIMELESS CLASSIC WITH STATE-OF-THE-ART TECHNOLOGY
Since 1953, the Explorer has been updated regularly to take advantage of the latest technical innovations from Rolex. Yet, throughout the different stages of its evolution over half a century, it has retained much of its iconic appearance, making it instantly recognisable. These features include a very robust stainless steel Oyster case and bracelet, as well as the Explorer’s landmark black dial with luminescent indices and large Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. It is designed for optimal legibility even in the dark – a crucial characteristic for explorers.
The Rolex Explorer received special attention in 2010 when the latest version of this classic made its much anticipated appearance. Most of the enhancements were to be found “under the hood”, while the characteristic sober and elegant lines of the Explorer were preserved. The most visible change is an enlarged, 39mm case, compared to the previous 36mm diameter, giving the new model a bolder look. Crafted from a solid block of 904L stainless steel with exceptional anti- corrosion properties, the Oyster case protects the high-performance mechanical movement in a virtually indestructible vault. It features a new screw-down case back and crown for guaranteed waterproofness to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), while the crystal is made of scratch-proof sapphire, the new Chromalight display, with an innovative luminescent material that emits a blue glow, is legible in the dark for twice as long as before.
On the inside, the new movement, calibre3132, is endowed with the latest and greatest of Rolex technology. The highly accurate and reliable blue Parachrom hairspring, which remains unaffected by magnetic fields or temperature variations, ensures the steadfast beat of the movement and allows the watch to stay up to 10 times more precise in case of shocks. The Rolex-designed Paraflex shock absorbers further enhance the Explorer’s reliability in rough conditions by increasing shock resistance by up to 50 %. The movement is equipped with the Rolex’s pioneering Perpetual rotor self- winding system, which harnesses every movement of the wrist to power the watch.
True to its heritage, the Explorer remains to this day a unique combination of functionality and timeless elegance. The perfect watch for the modern adventurer who has a mountain to climb, a goal to attain or a dream to experience.
oyster perpetual explorer (1953)
oyster perpetual explorer (2010)
By Grégoire Baillod and Rebecca Clark.
(C) Copyright - Rolex Exploration Perpetual Spirit.