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The Iconic Rolex Explorer

The origin of the Explorer dates back to the early 1950s when Rolex began testing the durability of its existing rounded-back watches (also known as bubble-backs). The bubble-backs had a strong reputation for being tough and durable so Rolex spotted the opportunity to develop a new model marketed for the more dynamic and intrepid customer. Prototypes were given to mountaineering expedition members for field trials and at this early stage, the watches were yet to bear the famous Explorer name. What cemented the reputation of the Rolex Explorer was that several members of Sir John Hunt’s May 1953 Everest expedition were issued with these watches. As we all know the expedition was a highly publicised success with both Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay the first to reach the summit. Rolex proudly displayed their involvement in much of its advertising at the time and the watches were swiftly developed and the name “Explorer” was born. Strictly speaking whilst Hillary was the first person to reach the summit, he wasn’t wearing a Rolex at the time (as opposed to Norgay who was), however it is the Rolex Explorer which is forever linked with the conquest of Mount Everest.



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