The Rolex Explorer 1: Perfect Everyday Watch

The Rolex Explorer 1: Perfect Everyday Watch

A few weeks back, I wrote an article discussing everyday watches and what makes one and what doesn’t. I mentioned the Rolex Explorer 1 as being the perfect everyday watch for two key reasons: it has a versatile design and great specifications. I’m passionate (not to say obsessed) with the idea of everyday watches. Of course, an everyday watch can be many things based on our own personal preferences and tastes. I hope that the aforementioned article offered some insights on common characteristics of everyday watches. 

With that said, there are a few popular (if not iconic) models that make great candidates for everyday watches. The Omega Aqua Terra, Tissot’s Gentleman Powermatic 80, and the Master Control are a few examples at very different price points. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the Explorer 1 and what makes it a great candidate for an everyday watch. 

Rolex Explorer 1 124270 WatchLounge Source: 

Timeless Design

There is no other Swiss luxury brand that has made such a timeless design. What do I mean by that? Naturally, there are many Swiss brands that have made iconic watches with even more iconic designs, but to me there is nothing that beats the simplicity of the Explorer 1. It has a particularly toned-down yet delicately balanced mixture of dressiness and sportiness that is unparalleled in the watch world. 

The juxtaposition of Arabic numerals at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions with baton-stye markers everywhere else (except for the inverted triangle at the 12) strikes a good balance of legibility and elegance. Put more Arabic numerals and the watch looks too sporty. Put none and it looks more dressy. 

This dial configuration has not changed since the first Explorer 1 was released in the early 1950s. This makes the Explorer 1 one of the oldest models of any watch brand in production, the equivalent of what is the Corolla for Toyota. The reason for this exceptional longevity is the result of the particular design language of the dial. It just works and it does for any situation. 

Rolex Explorer 1 124270 ChronoExpert


Versatile Dimensions 

Although Rolex produced a 39mm version of the Explorer 1 for several years, the brand went back to 36mm in 2021, the dimension of the original Explorer 1. 39mm is wearable for most people, however 36 is even more so as it makes the Explorer look more like an elegant sport watch (the type that Ian Fleming was wearing) and less that of hard-core explorers of the 21st century. 

In a sense, 36mm brings us back to the age of debonair explorers, when wearing smaller watches was the norm. And as indicated above, 39mm is not monstrous, but 36mm just works better in most situations. The smaller the watch, the less wrist presence it commands, a wholemark of versatility in my opinion. Versatility can be defined in many ways, however the way I look at it is as follows: 

A versatile watch is one that we can wear comfortably in 99% of situations. Not only because it looks better at the office or going out with our spouse or playing with the kids, but it’s also less likely to attract undesired and unnecessary attention. The world can be dangerous for watch enthusiasts who like nice things, so having a watch that goes under the radar is a plus. Regardless of how shiny or precious a watch is, 36mm will generally go unnoticed. 

Rolex Explorer 1 124270 Worn and Wound Source:

Solid Specifications 

Lastly, the Explorer 1—and we’re looking at the current reference, the 124270—comes with great specifications that are useful for everyday use. First of all, a solid movement, the caliber 3230, which is chronometer-certified and paramagnetic, meaning immune to magnetic fields. This is useful nowadays since we live with powerful and omnipresent magnetic fields. So the movement is precise and robust. 

Furthermore, the watch is water resistant to 100 meters (enough for everyday use, as delineated in my previous article) thanks to a screw-down crown and case back. Having 100 meters of water resistance means you can shower with the Explorer, wash your hands, and swim without having to worry whether or not water will enter the case and ruin the movement. (So long as you have screwed down the crown, of course!)

What’s more is that buying a Rolex means having the guarantee that the watch went through stringent tests to guarantee its reliability for everyday use and beyond. As mentioned in the article about the Explorer 2, all Rolex watches go through intense in-house shock and durability testing. Few brands put their watches through this regimen and that’s one of the many reasons why a Rolex cost several thousands of dollars. 

Rolex Caliber 3230 Source:

Final Thoughts 

There you have it! The three main reasons why the Explorer 1 ref. 124270 makes for the perfect everyday watch: versatile dimensions, timeless design, and robust specifications. Previous references of the Explorer 1 make for equally good everyday watches, however the more recent the reference is, the better the technology is. 

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