Following the first ascent to the summit of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on 29 May, Rolex launched the 36mm Oyster Perpetual Explorer in 1953. Identified as the highest mountain in the world during the 1850s, Everest was a subject of interest during the Golden age of alpinism, its height made it questionable if it could ever be surmounted; that is until Lieutenant George Herbert Leigh Mallory, a veteran of World War I and mountaineering fore-runner of Sir Edmund Hillary, opined that he was going to do it anyway “because it’s there”.
Because it’s there
The most famous three words in mountaineering really sums up Rolex’s raison d’etre when it comes to the new 36mm Oyster Perpetual Explorer Two Tone. Recently lambasted by internet critic Federico (of Federico talks Watches), he suggested that Rolex had “lost its way” because they messed with the Explorer, the last of Rolex’s purist tool watches. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s entitled to his opinion – watches are after all a highly emotional subject but I think the vitriol (which I won’t repeat) is a little unnecessary. As far as this journalist is concerned: for the longest time, a solid gold Rolex Submariner made little sense to me because gold is quite malleable and prone to dings, hence ill suited for a tool watch.
When Rolex patented the term Rolesor way back in 1933, the intent behind the philosophy was to combine the strength and reliability of steel, with the lustre and nobility of gold, quickly becoming one of the pillars of the Oyster collection. That it didn’t happen sooner to the Rolex OYSTER Perpetual Explorer can be be considered an outlier given that the other timepieces which the Oyster family already had their two tone variants. Even if this wasn’t the case, isn’t it also Rolex provenance to do things “because it’s there”? Mercedes Gleitze didn’t have to swim the English Channel, she did it because it was there. Neither did Rolex have to invent a waterproof Oyster watch for Ms. Gleitze, they did it because she was doing it; Rolex has a legacy of doing things “because it’s there”.
A New Generation Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer
The new-generation Explorer released in a yellow Rolesor version (combining Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold) bears a lacquered black dial making the gilt framed hour indexes and emblematic 3, 6 and 9 numerals particularly outstanding. The new Explorer Two Tone’s Chromalight display is particularly impressive against this inky black-drop (pun intended) as well. In dark conditions, the intensity of the blue glow emitted by the hour markers and hands shines perceptibly brighter and it also lasts longer thanks to the innovative and exclusive luminescent material. The brand began equipping numerous Himalayan expeditions with Oyster watches since the 1930s, the most famous being the pair of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay when they became the first to reach the 8,848 metres summit of Mount Everest.
On the yellow Rolesor version of the new Rolex Explorer, the bezel, winding crown and centre links of the bracelet are in 18 ct yellow gold, while the case and outer links of the bracelet are in Oystersteel. An exemplar of robustness and reliability paired with luxurious new precious materials, the new Explorer Two Tones’s 36 mm Oyster case is guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres. Its middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel, a particularly corrosion-resistant alloy. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case.
One would be remiss to not point out that the Rolesor model of the new Rolex Explorer stands apart from its steel brethren which sport an all-brushed finishing: the Two Tone Explorer is shinier with polished yellow-gold centre links on the bracelet and extremely dressy with gold accents on the case and bracelet, as well as yellow gold hands and hour markers. These seemingly “superficial” changes are matched by newly upgraded internal mechanics.
New Calibre 3230 for New Two Tone Explorer
The new 36mm Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer Two Tone is equipped with calibre 3230. Released in 2020, it is representative of the pinnacle of Rolex’s watchmaking technology: a self-winding mechanical movement with several patents under its belt, offering outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability. Among the new developments of particular note, the nickel-phosphorus Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability and insensitivity to magnetic fields.
The new calibre 3230 is also equipped with a blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy that makes it up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks; furthermore, the oscillator is fitted on the patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing the movement’s shock resistance. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, new Rolex Explorer Two Tone enjoys a power reserve of 70 hours.
New Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer Two Tone Price & Specs
Case 36 mm Rolesror in 904L steel and yellow gold with 100 metres water resistance
Movement Automatic Cal. 3230 with 70 hours power reserve
Price US$10,800; S$14,540
Also available in 904L steel only: S$8,620