The call of the peaks

The Oyster Perpetual Explorer and Explorer II evolved from Rolex’s deep involvement with exploration.

They go where few people venture. The brand was able to test these watches in real life by equipping polar, mountaineering and caving expeditions over many years.

Some of the world’s most intrepid explorers, mountaineers and scientists took Explorer and Explorer II watches to places that tested their reliability in the toughest conditions.


  • Designed
    for exploration


  • The Explorer, launched in 1953, set itself apart with a simple design and a highly legible black dial with large hour markers and characteristic 3, 6, 9 numerals. It is a tool watch, created to tell time accurately, whatever the circumstances. At 36 mm, the new-generation Explorer returns to the size of the original model launched in 1953.

  • Long after the light dies, you can tell the time. The Explorer’s Chromalight hour markers and hands contain luminescent material that emits a lasting blue glow ensuring excellent legibility even in the dark. In daylight, these display elements also have a bright white hue.

  • In 1971, the Explorer II is introduced and, in the same spirit as the Explorer, it perpetuates the privileged relationship that Rolex enjoys with exploration.

  • The Explorer II features a date display, an additional orange 24-hour hand and a fixed bezel with 24-hour graduations, enabling day to be distinguished from night. It became the watch of choice for speleologists, volcanologists and polar explorers.

  • Resisting
    The extreme


  • The additional arrow-shaped 24-hour hand of the Explorer II circles the dial once a day and is used in relation to the engraved fixed bezel. It can indicate the time in a second time zone or show the time in 24-hour format – a practical option in places where distinguishing day from night is impossible, such as at the poles or in caves.

  • The Explorer is available in Oystersteel or in a yellow Rolesor version, whereas the Explorer II watches are made of Oystersteel. Specially developed by Rolex, Oystersteel is a unique alloy with incomparable strength and clarity. Corrosion-resistant and designed for the most challenging conditions, it is part of what makes the Oyster Perpetual Explorer and Explorer II essential instruments for every explorer.

  • The watches in the Explorer range are fitted with an Oyster bracelet. Developed at the end of the 1930s, this three-piece link bracelet is known for its robustness. The Oyster bracelet features the Rolex-designed and -patented Oysterlock folding safety clasp, which prevents accidental opening. It is also equipped with the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by the brand, which allows the wearer to easily adjust the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm. In addition, a concealed attachment system ensures seamless visual continuity between the bracelet and case.

  • The Twinlock winding crown on the Explorer and Explorer II is fitted with a double waterproofness system. It features two sealed zones, one inside the tube, the other inside the crown. This principle is used on most of the watches in the Oyster collection that are guaranteed waterproof to 100 metres (330 feet).

  • The Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230 and the Explorer II with calibre 3285, both self-winding mechanical movements entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. They feature a Parachrom hairspring that provides great stability in the face of temperature variations, and Paraflex shock absorbers offering greater resistance to shocks.

  • 3230 Calibre
    The Explorer is equipped with calibre 3230
  • 3285 Calibre
    The Explorer II is equipped with calibre 3285
  • Answering
    The call 
    Of the unknown


  • 1950s
    An Oyster Perpetual expedition watch
  • 1953, Everest
    Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay
  • From the 1930s, Rolex began to equip numerous expeditions with Oyster watches. The feedback received over the years was used to develop what became known as the Professional category of watches that served as tools: models such as the Explorer and Explorer II.

  • 1953
    The First Explorer
  • The information gained from the Everest expedition, as well as feedback provided by other climbers, led the brand to launch the Explorer watch. Later, the performance of the Explorer model was enhanced with a reinforced case and a more legible dial, catering to extreme conditions.

  • 1971
    The First Explorer II
  • Over the years, many explorers, mountaineers and scientists became Rolex Testimonees and were breaking records and testing their endurance and courage in creative ways, often equipped with Explorer and Explorer II watches.

Contact a Jeweler about the Explorer

Only Official Rolex Jewelers are allowed to sell Rolex watches. With the necessary skills and technical know-how, they will help you make the choice that will last a lifetime.

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