Whether in the wider world of watches, or just within the confines of Rolex, the Explorer is a known quantity. It’s long-standing, straightforward, and iconic even among its much-loved siblings. The Explorer is a pure component of the Rolex sports watch. The Explorer’s timeline establishes it as the model that defines the category, replica Rolex Explorer I watches and the Explorer has evolved over the past half-century with a core formula of everyday versatility, thoughtful simplicity, and unwavering reliability. This remains true from its mountaintop roots to some interesting and collectible references that have emerged over the decades. Today’s Rolex Explorer is officially known as the M214270-0003, but from remote Himalayan peaks to a downtown conference room or a weekend in the backyard, we all know it’s just like the Explorer.
So, the watch in question is from 2016, so why start using it now? The steel Rolex market has never been hotter, and I thought it might be interesting to take a look at a watch that is both active in the cream center of the Rolex design language and one of the cheapest new Rolex sport models on the market. My everyday watch is the latest generation Explorer II 16570, and from that perspective, I wanted to see where it all started and where to find the Explorer today, in a world that’s crazy about Rolex steel.
To understand the modern 214270 Explorer, we need to look back in time and see where it came from. In this case, they won’t call it an “Explorer” and the model’s origins can be traced back to post-war adventures and the birth of the modern sports watch.
Born at a time when a watch needed only three hands, today’s Explorer dates back to 1953 and its pioneering expeditions were the highest in the world. Rolex provided these earliest Explorer models to test the expedition that led Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay to conquer Mt. Everest on May 29th, 1953. The “Explorer” brand had been registered in Geneva earlier that year, and the watches were made especially for the Summit bid.
The particular watch in question is the early 1950s reference 6098. norgay wore it because it is well known that Hillary wore a Smiths watch on her ascent (both Rolex and Smiths were sponsors of the climb), and this very important watch is today in the Beyer Museum in Zurich, Switzerland (as well as in association with Rennes). -The Rolex is seen in a watch (a talking watch by Mr. Beyer himself). Rolex played a flagship role in one of the most famous post-war exploration achievements, giving it the positioning it needed to establish its dress style but as a “studded” explorer it was the classic sports watch of its time.