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  1. history of explorer I Until nowadays in many rolex watch fan’s mind, they might still think explorer I was released to commemorate a great task of human being by creating a record of climbing on May 29th, 1953 (team members including Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay etc), the fact somehow was partly true. We know that since 1933 rolex had been an official supporter of Himalayan expedition and later Everest expedition by offering each explorer with its wristwatch, but Rolex wasn’t the exclusive supporter, it said that when Edmund Hillary climbed up on the top of Everest, what he wore was a watch from British supporter Smith, and what Tenzing Norgay wearing was the Explorer. The Explorer was actually based on the already existing workhorse and durable bubbleback, rolex further revised and updated it for more suitable active and adventurous customer. First prototypes of Explorer to be used was reference 6098 and 6150 which both were used movement A296, but didn’t bear the name of Explorer at the time, two watches were design to be with white dials and leaf shaped hands. Actually you can see from the above pic, Tenzing Norgay was wearing the Explorer when climbed on Everest, the watch indeed had the typical black dial and 3 6 9 luminous Arabic number, though hands were not our well known Mercedes hands today (later showed up only in a small number of ref.6350) but a purely luminous straight hands, the luminous dot on center second hand were larger than today’s. Worth mentioning that on this Explorer whose dial was marked as word “Precision” rather than “Explorer”. Explorer Ref. 6350 These models were changed to reference 6298 and 6350 in 1953 when they were equipped with the iconic Explorer type of 3 6 9 Arabic dial and later applied with Merceded hands. Therefore, before Hillary and Norgay climbed on to the top of Everest, the name of Explorer wasn’t used. Rolex had registered the trademark of Explorer in Geneva on Jan 26th, 1953, so here came the name of Explorer after Hillary and Norgay climbing up the Everest, that is “Explorer” began to be added on ref. 6350 after the successful climbing of 1953. Anyway, ref.6350 was truly made for Explorers, it had a highly readable dial design, its case was also particularly strengthened and uses special lubricant to make the watch practicable between -20 degree to 40 degree. Ref. 6150 was discontinued in 1959 and replaced by ref.6610. advertisement of Explorer Ref. 1016 in 1975 an Explorer Ref. 6150 auctioned at Antiquorum an Explorer Ref. 6298 auctioned at Antiquorum honeycomb styled dial of Exoplorer Ref. 6350 In fact, ref.6610 and ref.6150 were majorly the same, yet ref.6610 was using the new cal.1030 movement and the back is more flat. After five years of production of ref.6610, it was replaced by ref.1016 which was the most famous edition with the longest production in all the Explorers until replaced by Ref. 14270, explorer 1016 somehow was like 6610 from semblance, but movement changed to 1560 and water resistance increased from 50m to 100m. During the production time, 1016 also changed quite often. First generation of 1016 made some changes in 1975, from cal.1560 movement updated to caliber 1570 movement with hacking, and oyster bracelet changed to solid steel bracelet. an Explorer Ref. 6610 auctioned at Antiquorum Explorer Ref. 1016 timeless Explorer Ref. 1016 In 1989, ref.14270 was grandly published on market with great expectation and surprise. In addition to keeping the name of Explorer and Mercedes hands, the conception of ref.14270 was fully different from 1016: movement cal.3000 with higher frequency, sapphire crystal, updated case and dial. These updates made the style of 14270 full of a feeling of elegance and modern, but the sporty and explorer style of 1016 was still unforgettable for most the rolex watch fans, plus with only a small amount, price of 1016 also skyrocketed, currently 1016 on market almost doubled the price than brand new 14270 14270 In 2001, the ref. 114270 replaced 14270 by using cal.3130 movement. Regardless of the antique Explorer ref.6350, 1016 or the previous generation of 14270 or the current 114270, rolex Explorer has always been the watch with simple and clean design both from appearance and function, steel bracelet, automatic movement, black 3 6 9 dial… it’s really not eye catching enough from first sight. But maybe right just because of its simplicity, the longer time you know Explorer you will find it with greater and greater attraction and charming. More surprised phenomenon is that not just male watch fans, though females are highly appreciated Explorer by its modern and sporty casual style. Many watch fans had asked questions like why Explorer such a simple watch is capable to be sought after by worldwide fans with such unexpectedly high price. But we just love it without reasons. Main difference between 14270 and 114270 Movement: 14270 – cal.3000, 27 jewels 114270 – cal.3130 31 jewels, both movements are excellent movements Bracelet: both use the same clasp, however, 114270 adopted solid end links on the bracelet Explorer I-214270 was debuted at Baseworld 2010 and increased size from 36mm to 39mm with cal.3132 movement. history of Explorer II Rolex Explorer II, sometimes it may be referred to as the “Steve McQueen” rolex, in spite of the fact we never see he wore one, however it being one of the most sought after wristwatches nowadays. First show up was in 1971, with the prototype reference as 1655 which basically was an addition new edition to GMT Master Ref.1675. The first Explorer II watch, ref. 1655, featured an extra hour hand (in a bright orange color) for a 24-hour notation. Rolex claimed that Explorer II was specially designed for Speleologist, cave explorers or some sort of adventurers, cause once got into the darkness cave without a ray of light, they might lose sense of direction quickly, without telling day or night certainly can’t tell it was 4am or 4pm. Plus cave adventure may inevitably ran into rocks around, the rotatable 24 hour notation relatively not reliable enough, so rolex changed it to fixed 24-hour notation in sake of security of these adventurers. Let’s just leave aside whether they gonna lose direction-sense or not, early release of Explorer II ref.1655, market welcome was actually quite flat, but rather popular among some professionals who need pay more attention on timezone changes like pilots. But however, Explorer II now is one of the most collectible rolex models. The movement used in Explorer II was exactly the same as movement used in GMT Master models, caliber 1570 and 1575 movements were used for ref.1655. during the entire production period of 1655, only some small details are changed by rolex, besides the different bracelet rolex used during the 1970s (riveted, folded and later on, solid), the second hand went from a straight shaped “needle” to a hand with two circles, one on long end and another on the short end. Also the color of 24-hour changed from orange to red-orange and the font on dial had some tiny differences on later models. Until 1984, rolex polished a new Explorer II ref.16550, updates including sapphire crystal, a caliber 3085 movement with double bridge and a white dial apart from the black dial model. Biggest change should be the shape of the hands, especially the 24-hour hand that was changed from a small red-orange arrow shaped hand to a long and sleek designed red 24-hour hand with a white arrow at the end. Somehow, 16550 had some issues, like the white paint on dial faded to a more creamish color, the black dial model also suffered issues as well, having cracks in glossy finish. Therefore, 16550 model is also referred to as a transitional model cause new model ref.16570 was launched in 1989. The 4-5 years production period of 16550 is a very short production time in rolex history. New model Explorer II 16570 applied with a rather new movement caliber 3185, apart from bracelet, can be found only one major update from previous model, and that is the use of black hour marker rings and hands on the white dial version. Similar with Submariner and GMT Master, new model of the cream-dial has white gold hour markers and hands. Since the emerge of Explorer II, it was like the addition version of GMT Master, however its popularity has never fall behind GMT Master, aside from the aesthetic reason, its name of explorer may let people full of imaginations, or affected by the popularity of its predecessor explorer 1655, or the vague legend of Steve McQueen, all these factors make Explorer II even more popular and welcomed. After all, simply depending on a tiny watch, you will have the experience of imaging yourself being an explorer or a famous star, which is just an irresistible temptation.
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