Sizing the Rolex Explorer I: 36mm and 40mm

Sizing the Rolex Explorer I: 36mm and 40mm

The Rolex Explorer I is one of those watches that everyone knows and loves. From its iconic 3-6-9 numerals to its historical ties to the first summit of Mt. Everest, the Rolex Explorer I is in many ways the perfect watch. . . well, almost perfect. A common complaint from enthusiasts relates to its sizing. From 1953 to 2010, the Explorer I came in just one size: 36mm. In 2010, the Explorer succumbed to modern trends and increased in size to 39mm. This 39mm Explorer didn't last long, as in 2021 Rolex gave us the Explorer in the classic 36mm size (reference 124270). Many love this size, but those with wrists sizes upwards of 6.5 inches may find it a bit on the small side. But Rolex being Rolex, they saw an opportunity to improve the wearability of the watch…

The Modern 40mm Explorer I

36 and 40 mm Explorer ISource: Teddy Baldassarre

Fast forward to March of 2023: Rolex shocked everyone with a 40mm Explorer I (reference 224270). Bigger than ever before, yet perfectly balanced in proportions. Rolex now offers three variations of the Explorer I, two variants (steel and two-tone steel/yellow gold) in size 36mm and an all-steel model in 40mm. Visually, you can easily see the difference: the bigger dial and bezel allows for much greater wrist presence but remains balanced at the same time. The modern Rolex Oyster bracelet can’t have enough positive things said about it; its 5 mm easy-link system makes the Explorer I a perfect wear on any wrist regardless of temperature changes (causing your wrist to contract or swell).

The Main Differences

Explorer I on wrist

Source: A Blog To Watch

The movement inside both the 40mm and 36mm models is the calibre 3230: a movement that has proven itself to be impeccably reliable, durable, and accurate. The 70-hour power reserve is a great luxury and makes the Explorer I (or any 3230-equipped Rolex) an ideal daily watch. So, what are the main differences beside case size? Well, except for the fact the dial and accompanying furniture are obviously scaled up, the main difference is one that many thought Rolex wouldn't implement: they gave the 40mm Explorer a 21mm lug width. The 36mm model has a lug width of 19mm, so naturally in order to keep that same tapering elegance of the Oyster bracelet, Rolex needed to widen the lugs to keep the smooth curve of the case blending nicely into the bracelet. Very much like what they did to the Submariner 41mm.

Everest Bands Has You (and Your Rolex Explorer) Covered

Rolex Explorer I on Everesr Rubber Strap

Because of the somewhat-awkward lug width of 21mm, you may not be able to use any of your nato or rubber straps sized for the standard 20mm lugs. Luckily, Everest has you covered. Whether you have the Explorer I in 36mm or 40mm, we have the tailor-fit curved-end rubber strap for you. The Explorer I is such a classic piece from Rolex: it can be worn in a multitude of scenarios from informal to very formal. This is due to its clean simplistic design. With two sizes to choose from, you can be sure to get the perfect Explorer I for yourself.

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