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The Namesakes on The Rolex Catalog

The Rolex catalog is a unique compilation of lovely and classic wristwatches. This catalog is not a place to find wristwatches with sequels.

Only a few of these have existed over the years. There are only three wristwatches in the Rolex catalog with sequels.

  • The Yacht-Master
  • The GMT-Master
  • The Rolex Explorer

From these three above, you can only find the different versions of two of them still on sale together presently. The GMT-Master series is not lucky to enjoy such a privilege.

In the late 1990s, the GMT-Master II replaced the first of its kind, known as the GMT-Master. Even though these two still existed side-by-side for a few years more after then.

The Differences Between the Rolex’s Namesakes

GMT-Master and GMT-Master II had no clear difference (s) that sets them apart. This is different from the other two wristwatch series.

These other two are not similar to each other in any way. One might even feel they are two entirely distinct watches.

For instance, the Yacht-Master is a luxury watch with a straight-down-the-middle design featuring the time-and-date layout.

This originating wristwatch had no unique features except for its two-way rotating bezel and a date display. The sequel to this Rolex wristwatch, the Yacht-Master II, is an outstanding, huge, regatta timer with several sophistication. This wristwatch would easily pass as the most jaw-dropping and interest-snatching item featured on Rolex’s catalog.

When you now consider the Rolex Explorer 1 and 2 wristwatches, the situation is almost the same thing. There are almost no similarities between these two. Well, these two siblings are regarded as underdogs in the Rolex’s catalog.

These two have been the ever-neglected cult heroes in the Rolex lineup. Still, just like the usual practice with most lovers of Rolex wristwatches. The black horse becomes the most attractive piece, eventually. Over time, the number of admirers of this wristwatch have continued to increase. Quite ironic!

These two versions of the Rolex Explorer are rising immensely in fashionableness. How these two follow the Rolex’s tool watch roots of old is another factor increasing their popularity. As it is presently, most Rolex lovers desire just that vintage feeling. These two parades the best version of modern tech in a styling from the oldies.

In this review article, we will consider these two wristwatches; their features, and what sets them apart. Follow through!


Main Features

  • Stainless steel, fixed, and smooth BEZEL
  • Chroma light luminescence and black DIAL
  • Case size of 39mm.
  • Made from Oyster steel Stainless Steel Materials of 904L
  • Made to function with time and running seconds
  • Captions an Oyster bracelet.
  • Sapphire (Flat) crystal
  • Resistant to water within 330 feet or 100 meters.
  • 3132 movement

Explorer 1: Thriving in The Thick of Heights

Now, let us get into the thick of it. We begin with the evolution of this luxury watch. The conception of the initial Explorer is perhaps as popular as the wristwatch itself.

This wristwatch was launched in 1953. This launching happened at a time this Rolex had the hearts of almost every Rolex enthusiast.

If there is a safe thing to say about this watch, it will be that the watchmaker has carved his niche. This watchmaker is distinguished for his prowess in thriving in the most unfavorable settings. For the Rolex Explorer, it thrived thanks to the planet’s most difficult mountain! Mount Everest was the testbed for this watch.

Rolex had been financing tries to climb Everest as far back as the 1930s. The brand financed a total of none climbing attempts in all.

Eventually, in 1953, Rolex financed the first successful mission by Norgay and Hillary. The pair wore Oyster Perpetual wristwatches while on this enduring climb.

These watches were specially provided by Rolex. Although, there was an arrangement that they would give back these watches to the manufacturer once they get back. This agreement was founded on a research basis.

And that was exactly what they did. These watches would proceed to establish the footing for Rolex’s first-ever sports wristwatch. This wristwatch is the time-only, austerely lovely, steel model that comes in a 36mm case, known as the ROLEX EXPLORER 1.

First-ever Rolex Explorer 1 Watch

Rolex had a double release for the Rolex Explorer 1 all at once. The two versions of the Explorer are:

  • The Ref. 6350
  • The Ref. 6150.

These two releases were products of the same A296 movement. After some months, one of these two references (Ref. 6350) advanced to the chronometer level. This reference was thereby bestowed the ‘Officially Certified Chronometer’ text on its dial. The other reference (Ref. 6150l did not get certified. Therefore, it is simply referred to as ‘Precision’.

Nevertheless, almost as with the present-day Yacht-Master Rolex, there was nothing explorer-related about this model. There was no feature to explain its name. But one this is for sure. This model was indeed built to be reliable and durable.

Note that there was nothing about this wristwatch that particularly made this landmarking piece an easy catch. Basically, all you have was just a strong, smart, and fashionable timepiece plus a very clear dial. The clear dial was thanks to what is now know ln as the “Explorer dial within collecting circles” (the watch’s 3/6/9 trademark Arabic figures hour indicators).

Just like every other release from Rolex in the 1950s, the beginning for this wristwatch was rough. For the ref. 6350, it got withdrawn just as soon as it had stayed a year. The ref. 6150 held the fort independently until 1959. This reference was later displaced by the ref. 6610.

Ref. 6610 promoted the movement to Cal. 1030. That was the first caliber modeled and created by Rolex. This upgrade enabled the watch to get even slimmer than ever before.

Regardless, the ref. 6610 was likewise terminated in 1963. This termination paved the way for the ref. 1016.

Rolex Explorer 1 References (1953 till date)

  • Rolex Explorer ref. 6350: 1953 – 1954
  • Rolex Explorer ref. 6150: 1953 – 1959
  • Rolex Explorer ref. 6610: 1959 – 1963
  • Rolex Explorer ref. 1016: 1963 – 1989
  • Rolex Explorer ref. 14270: 1989–2001
  • Rolex Explorer ref. 114270: 2001–2010
  • Rolex Explorer ref. 214270: 2010 till date


Main Features

  • Stainless steel, fixed, and 24-hour scale BEZEL
  • Chroma light luminescence and black or white DIAL
  • A Case size of 42mm.
  • Made from Oyster steel Stainless Steel Materials of 904L
  • Made to function with time and running seconds and GMT-Functionality
  • Captions an Oyster bracelet.
  • Sapphire crystal with Cyclops Lens
  • Resistant to water within 330 feet or 100 meters.
  • 3187 movement

Explorer 2: Lover Of Depths

In 1971, a new Explorer debuted in the Rolex catalog. The Explorer 2 took nothing more than just the name from its challenge-prepared partner.

We could even see Explorer 2 as the antithesis of the initial Explorer 1. Unlike Explorer 1 that thrived on the highest stage on Earth, Explorer 2 is built to satisfy those going for the fierce and grim depths.

Spelunkers (more often referred to as cave divers) can stay away from natural light or the earth’s surface for weeks. This way, they can’t keep track of day and night. The environments would certainly not allow them. This is why Rolex released the Explorer 2.

This watch comes with an extra 24-hour pointer, plus a 24-hour bezel engraved on it. These two works together to indicate AM and PM. So, wearers can now keep tabs on what they cannot access above the earth’s surface.

First-ever Rolex Explorer 2 Watch

It all began with the ref. 1655. This one measured 39mm and was made from stainless steel completely. Understanding the condition of its expected audience, Rolex stirred up the watch’s clarity to 11, particularly for the depths and the dark.

There was an addition to enhance the regular luminescent markers that come up every five minutes. Little luminous squares in-between was added to help fit with the watch’s 24-hour array.

This wide, luminous orange pointer eventually led to the watch being dubbed the Freccione. That is Italian for ‘arrow’. This distinct vintage quality is a big favorite among Rolex lovers.

As the production and evolution of the ref. 1655 proceeded, there were watches of this kind with 24-hour pointers. They were coated in red. With time, these all passed away. Now, it is an identical washed-out color like their orange partners.

Nonetheless, just as with the actual Rolex Explorer 1, this sibling battled with getting sales. It had two major difficulties.

  • A supposed constraint in its functionality
  • A dial that was considered hard to read.

For the GMT-Master, the extra hour hand let it show a second time zone thanks to its rotating bezel. For the Explorer 2, on the other hand, the fixed bezel only allows its 24-hour hand to be a huge and notable AM/PM indicator. It is more so as the two distinct hour arrows on the Caliber 1575 are not adjusted independently.

Even when the Rolex Explorer 2 got linked to the Hollywood royalty, it still could not get off the shelves. It came to be popular knowledge that the unrivaled King of Cool, Steve McQueen wore one. Even though this was only spurious hearsay. Yet, the ref. 1655 has since then been regarded as the Steve McQueen Rolex.

Rolex Explorer II References (1971 till date)

  • Rolex Explorer II ref. 1655: 1971 – 1985
  • Rolex Explorer II ref. 16550: 1985 – 1989
  • Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570: 1989 – 2011
  • Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570: 2011 till date

Rolex Explorer 1 & 2 Features Comparison

  1. Functionality

First off, it is good to note that there is nothing to set these two watches apart. They majorly just share that name.

This difference is even more when considering their functionality. The initial Explorer is simply as basic as a wristwatch can be. You get to know what the time is! Easy Peasy! Nothing about date complication or any other complex functions.

The Explorer 2 on the flip side reveals a date display right at the 3 o’clock position. It is even wrapped in a Cyclops lens. There is a dual time zone facility.

In conclusion, we pitch the Rolex Explorer 2 ahead based on functionality!

  1. Appearance

Just like it is with the functions, there is nothing to link these two together with their appearance. The initial Explorer is one of the loveliest watches made by Rolex. There is the black dial, the 3/6/9 figure layout, and the 39mm casing. Aesthetics for different occasions.

The Rolex Explorer 2 is a part of the Professional Collection. Hence, there is little to its aesthetic enhancements. It is simply a really strong, stainless steel timepiece. Made majorly for purpose, it has almost nothing to offer as regards physical aesthetics.

So, for this round, the first Rolex Explorer takes this one. With its appearance, you have something to easily fit into your dressings. Such cannot be said for the Rolex Explorer 2.

Final Thoughts and Comparison

In conclusion, we have two Rolex watches with a lot of appeal for fans of both the contemporary and the oldies. Each of them is perfect in its layout and performance but distinct ways.

The Explorer 1 is a classically beautiful timepiece that works in any environment. It is one of the least expensive models. It is likewise the only 39mm watch in the recent catalog save for the Pearl master model.

The Explorer II is larger, bolder, and carries more functions. It again gives you variety with colors. These all can only mean it will cost more, but not by a wide gap in price.

It is fascinating that the gap between pre-owned kinds of these watches is considerably lesser. You can effortlessly find the 36mm Rolex Explorer 1 ref. 14270 at a lower price than the ref. 16570 Rolex Explorer 2.

Choosing between these two is a function of your personal preferences. But you cannot make a bad choice between these two!



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