You Can Now Buy a Two-Tone Rolex Explorer

And in other news, it's 36mm again. And there's a plain steel version, of course.

rolex explorer i watches and wonders 2021

This year, the Watches & Wonders Geneva trade show is once again an online event — only this time, it includes brands such as Rolex, Tudor, Patek Philippe and more. Check back here often for our coverage of this horological mega-show to see all the latest watches.

Hark! The herald angels sing. The Rolex Explorer is 36mm again. Let all and sundry rejoice. (Go on — rejoice. I'll make coffee while you rejoice and then be right back.)

Have your rejoiced yet? Great. This is the deal: The watch, in both Oystersteel and Rolesor is back to its original, 1953-ish 36mm case size. Which is GREAT. Here's what you otherwise need to know about the new references:

They're powered by the Rolex cal. 3230 automatic movement

rolex cal 3230

This caliber, which debuted in 2020, is perfect for the Explorer: highly shock- and magnetic-resistant, it features a Chronergy escapement, Parachrom hairspring and special Paraflex shock absorbers. (Read: you can beat the shit out of your watch and it'll continue to tick.) It's also got a 70-hour power reserve, so you could conceivably put it down on a Friday evening, pick it up on a Monday morning, and it would still have many more hours to tick before it stopped.

They're back to their original size

Ahh, the 36mm sweet spot. This was the size of the original Explorer I back in the 1950s, and the size of most of the references up until the 214270, which debuted in 2010 and measured 39mm in diameter. Folks seemed to really dig the 36mm case size, however, and bringing the new ref. 124270 (steel) and ref. 124273 (gold) back to that diameter just makes sense. Bravo, Rolex.

You can get a two-tone version for the first time ever

rolex 124273

The new ref. 124273 comes in Rolesor, Rolex's steel and 18 carat gold blend. (The watch's smooth bezel, crown and inner bracelet links are made from yellow gold, while the black dial's white indices also feature matching yellow gold surrounds.) This is the first time an Explorer — that most toolish of tool watches — has been given a 1980s livery.

Both feature a black lacquered dial with Chromalight lume

rolex exp i dial

You're getting a black dial with either reference, though that of the two-tone model features yellow gold surrounds — those of the steel model, white gold. All indices are now lume-filled...for maximim lume. These suckers should glow like crazy.

You're getting a robust Oyster case with either model

100m of water resistance, fluted case back with hermetic sealing, Twinlock winding crown, virtually scratchproof sapphire crystal...this is a robust watch. (Even the two-tone version.) Hilary and Norgay would no doubt be proud to carry either one up Mt. Everest today.


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