Rolex Explorer history began when Tenzing Norgay stepped onto the summit of Mt. Everest alongside Edmund Hillary with a Rolex Explorer strapped to his wrist (although the watch did not yet bear this name). As one of the first watches to reach Everest’s peak, the Explorer quickly became synonymous with the extreme climb. In later expeditions, Rolex was always the official supporter, equipping climbers with their own Explorers, cementing the history of the Rolex Explorer as the watch of choice for mountain climbers and other adventurers.
In 1952, the Rolex Bubbleback came in models 6098 and 6150, prototypes of the Explorer. The watches had white dials and leaf-shaped hands. The next year, they became the 6298 and 6350, displaying the famous 3-6-9 Arabic dial which is typical of Explorers. Later, the Mercedes hands were also added. After the Everest expedition of ’53, the name Explorer was inscribed on the dials of the 6350. The watch was made to be especially strong and able to withstand extreme temperatures, as a dangerous mountain climbing adventure would require. In 1959, Rolex replaced the Explorer 6150 with the 6610, which had a more flattened back than the previous model. Then in 1963, this model was in turn replaced by the 1016. The 1016 was more water resistant than the 6610 and also had a new movement, the Cal. 1560. The 1016 stayed in production for 26 years, in which time it evolved quite a bit and eventually became the 14270, the Explorer II, in 1971. The history of Rolex Explorer II, like that of the Explorer, is laden with stories of adventure seekers using the Explorer II during their journeys.
The 14270 surprised Rolex lovers with its extreme variation from the previous model. The case and dial were very different, the crystal was sapphire, and the movement was Cal. 3000. Rolex fans missed the classic, sporty feel of the 1016, although they appreciated the more modern and elegant tones of the 14270. In 2001, Rolex replaced the 14270 with the 114270, which was Cal. 3130. The history of the Rolex Explorer and the Rolex Explorer II is full of adventurous stories and explorations.
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