Traverse The World Untouched – Quick Overview Of The New Rolex Explorer Collection From Watches & Wonders 2021
Editor’s note: Like you, we are also excited for the releases from the Watches & Wonders 2021. Our coverage is going to be split into 3 categories: deep-dive hands-on, shorter Gut Reaction Reviews (Grr…), and nut-shell previews. This is the Quick Overview of the new Rolex Explorer and Explorer II. For our other detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
There had been a lot of speculation and a frenzy of fake mock-ups regarding Rolex’s 2021 novelties. The Rolex Explorer family was one of the most hotly debated models — given 2021 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex Explorer II — and while none of the so-called predictions came entirely true, Rolex did revamp their Explorer collection. Was it all that the internet was expecting? Not quite. But does it bring something new to the table? Absolutely. Well, new in the Rolex universe anyway, as the new Rolex Explorer collection is not disruptive, but hey, if it ain’t broken, why fix it.
Given the case diameter of the Explorer II hasn’t changed, we reached out to the brand to ask what did change; and they have confirmed that the case is indeed updated and re-designed with slightly slimmer lugs. So the Rolex Explorer II is now more ergonomic and should sit better on the wrist, providing better comfort.
So if not revolutionary, how would I describe it? In a nutshell, it is what the ‘king’ does best: improve upon perfection.
Size-up, size down, (and RIP)
The updated new Rolex Explorer collection from Watches & Wonders 2021 is essentially a story of 4 versions, 2 dial colours, and 1 new movement (each).
The ref. 124270 with a new black lacquered dial, Explorer in a new sized-down 36mm oystersteel case with an oystersteel bracelet and smooth bezel retails for 9’000 AUD.
The ref. 124273 with a new black lacquered dial, Explorer in a new sized-down 36mm oystersteel case with a yellow gold bezel and two-tone oystersteel bracelet retails for 15’520 AUD. This of course is one of the most unique releases, given since its release in 1953, Explorer’s always feature stainless steel bodies.
The ref. 226570 with a white lacquered dial, Explorer II with new case and bracelet proportions (sized-up on wrist by the looks of it) but same 42mm oystersteel case with an oystersteel bracelet and still retaining the steel bezel now retails for 12’000 AUD
The ref. 226570 with a black lacquered dial, Explorer II with new case and bracelet proportions (sized-up on wrist by the looks of it) but same 42mm oystersteel case with an oystersteel bracelet and still retaining the steel bezel now retails for 12’000 AUD
Before we move on we have to address the elephant in the room, the discontinuation of a larger Explorer (I). RIP 39mm Rolex Explorer, the ref. 214270.
This decision to discontinue this size seems random at first but if you look at the 2021 releases from both Rolex and Tudor in conjunction, you can see a pattern and some logic. Besides, by going back to 36, Rolex is taking Explorer back to its roots.
The tool watches now introduced or revamped are:
36mm Explorer (tool watch)
36mm Explorer Two-tone (tool + elegant)
39mm BB58 (tool watch filling in the size gap in Rolex’s catalogue)
40mm Daytona (not messing with the legend)
41mm Tudor Black Bay Chrono (the budget Daytona)
42mm Explorer II (bigger tool watch)
Keeping it within the overarching family, when it comes to tool watches for all wrist sizes, Rolex and Tudor have you covered.
The Explorer ref. 124270 and ref. 124273 feature the Manufacture Rolex Calibre 3230 — a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex and was released last year and is the same movement as the Submariner — that boasts of an impressive −2 /+2 sec/day accuracy after casing, it is COSC-certified, features 31 rubies and provides with an increased 70-hour power reserve. Other features include the frequency of 28,800 beats/hour (4Hz), a paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, a Rolex overcoil, a large balance wheel with variable inertia, a paramagnetic nickel-phosphorus escape wheel, a high-precision regulator via four gold Microstella nuts, a traversing balance bridge and high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers.
“Calibre 3230 incorporates the Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability. Made of nickel-phosphorus, it is also insensitive to magnetic fields. The movement is fitted with an optimised blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in an exclusive paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. The blue Parachrom hairspring is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position. The oscillator is fitted on the Rolex-designed and -patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance”.
Both the references are 100m water-resistant, feature the highly legible Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence, and come with an international five-year guarantee.
The Explorer II ref. 226570 features the Manufacture Rolex Calibre 3285 — a movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex in 2018 — that boasts of an impressive −2 /+2 sec/day accuracy after casing, it is COSC-certified and provides with an increased 70-hour power reserve.
That’s All Folks!
For me personally, the main attraction is the dials of the Explorer II sub-collection, with the matt finish white lacquer dial with black PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) hour markers and black lacquer hour, minute and seconds hands being my favourite out of the four models. Thankfully it still retains its characteristic orange 24-hour hand which complements the same coloured Explorer II inscription. And as a cherry on the cake, the dial now features an updated Chromalight display.
Rolex’s Explorer collection is all about withstanding whatever the elements through at it, whether be it the peaks of the Everest or the depths of the dark caves. Now with the variety introduced by the new Rolex Explorer collection, there is something for everyone: the hard-core adventurer who prefers a subtle-black aesthetic underrated slim timepiece, the thrill-seeking traveller who prefers a bold GMT-watch, the avid explorer who prefers a high-contrast white dial timepiece, or the elegant gentleman — or a lady thanks to small 36mm diameter — who would like to have the best of both worlds with the two-tone model.
Go on, explore the world, your way.
Stay tuned for a more detailed review coming soon. To find out more about the new Rolex Explorer collection and other Rolex watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise specified are © Rolex. Make sure to check out our reviews of other Watches & Wonders 2021 releases here.