"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." –Leonardo Da vinci
The Rolex Explorer I, is one of the original Rolex Tool-Watches. Its origins have been steeped in mystery, intrigue and myth. I am actually in the middle of putting together my research findings on the origins of the Rolex Explorer I and I intend to publish them as soon as I can.
I don't know if it is just a coincidence that Rolex yesterday at the BaselWorld trade-show and fair in Basel, Switzerland released their all-new Rolex Explorer I at the exact same time as their all-new stainless steel Rolex Submariner!!!
The watch in the next three photos is Sir Edmund Hillary's actual Rolex he wore when he conquered Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953. In this first photograph his watch is sitting on top of a Rolex Explorer brochure from 1956. The reason the leather strap is so unusually long is because the extra length allowed him to wear it normally on his wrist when it was not really cold, and the extra length allowed him to wear his Rolex on his wrist over his shirt, or sweater or jacket.
Sir Edmund Hillary's Rolex Close-Up
As we see in the photo above and in the two photos below, Sir Edmund Hillary's Rolex Oyster Perpetual had a white dial. On of the myths that I busted in the past was that Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary were wearing Rolex Explorer models when they conquered Everest. The truth however, is not that far off. As a matter of fact, the Oyster Perpetual below was indeed the basis for the Rolex Explorer and even shared the same Reference number.
This early Rolex Explorer history has recently become a very hot topic and the early 1953 Rolex Explorer watches are becoming very desirable for collectors. I have a pal, who is a vintage Rolex collector, and he recently decided to sell all his non-1953 Rolex Explorer models just so he could focus on 1953 Rolex Explorer models. As I mentioned, in the future I will be shedding much more light on the fascinating genesis of the Rolex Explorer.
The most fascinating thing, in my mind, is that the Sir Edmund Hillary's Rolex Oyster Perpetual as seen in these photos is the great, great grandfather of the the all-new Rolex Explorer I that Rolex just introduced at BaselWorld 2010. What amazing legacy and history!!!
The All-New 39MM Rolex Explorer
BaselWorld 2010 Introduction
[Reference 214270: Bracelet 77200]
The all-new Rolex Explorer I deviates from the version it replaces by growing from 36mm to 39mm which is good in many ways, while perhaps having some drawbacks. The reason I suggest it's a good idea with some drawbacks is that by growing the watch from 36mm to 39mm it give the watch a more substantial, macho look with much more presence.
The potential drawback is that dudes with small wrists may not be able to wear the watch. I say this because I have two pals who have very small wrists and they always wanted to wear a sports Rolex like the Submariner, but they thought it was just too big, so the 36mm Explorer I was the goto watch for these dudes. It is not big deal, because they can always invest in a soon-t0-be vintage 36mm Explorer I.
The all new Rolex Explorer I has a streamlined look and ironically Rolex chose not to put lume on the trademark 3,6 and 9 indices. Some people in the online Rolex community have pointed out that the hands look anemic and too short. It appears Rolex design kept the old hands and I agree, that the watch needs fatter and longer hands.
Rolex design intelligently decided not to polish the center links and maintain the satin, brushed finish which was a good idea. It almost appears as if Rolex design recently has completely turned around in their approach to how they design Rolex sports watches, in the sense they realize the tool-watches are better left as tool watches. I am curious to see this watch in person!!!
What's Your Everest?
Rolex produced this brilliant video for the BaselWorld 2010 introduction of the all-new 39mm Rolex Explorer I. This video is so inspiring and it sends shivers down my spine ever time I watch it!!!!
Of course the dude with the goggles is Sir Edmund Hillary and in the scene where the man runs up to him to hug him, that is Sir John Hunt, who was the British Expedition leader congratulating Hillary as he descend down from the summit of Mount Everest. The entire British Mount Everest Expedition as well as many of the teams that previously attempted to summit Everest wore Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches.
Today in Basel, Switzerland at BaselWorld, Rolex introduced the long-awaited, all-new stainless steel Supercase Submariner which offers many innovative features. Rolex introduced the very first stainless steel Submariner to the public at BaselFair in 1954 to critical acclaim.
Rolex was actually testing the Rolex Submariner in 1953 as witnessed in the photo below of Aquatic pioneer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau which was taken during filming of his seminal landmark documentary named The Silent World.
Jacques Cousteau is pictured below on-board his beloved Calypso research ship in 1953 while filming in the Mediterranean Sea and notice he is wearing an early Rolex Prototype Submariner which is the great-great grandfather of the all new Supercase Stainless Steel Submariner that Rolex introduced in Basel, Switzerland at BaselWorld today!!!
I specifically chose the profound historical image below of pioneering ocean conservationist, oceanographer, and explorer, Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau for several reasons:
First of all, it is the first photo I know of that was taken of anybody wearing a Rolex Submariner, and secondly, Jacques Cousteau basically introduced the world to the Rolex Submariner when he and his Calypso diving team members wore them while filming The Silent World, thus I think it is apropos to have him once again, introduce the all-new Rolex Submariner!!!
Also, Jacques-Yves Cousteau basically pioneered the world of SCUBA Diving which the Submariner tool watch was specifically designed and built for!!! Welcome home baby!!!
Filming in The Mediterranean Sea in 1953
Rolex Submariner [Reference 6200]
The Rolex Submariner is one of the most timeless designs in the world. Rolex has very carefully evolved its design over the last 57 years and it's remarkable how similar Jacques-Yves Cousteau's 1953 Rolex Submariner is to the all-new Supercase Submariner!!!!
Introducing An Instant Classic
The All New Rolex Supercase Submariner
An Amazing Step Closer To Absolute Perfection!!!!!
The Rolex Submariner is the most iconic sports watch in history and this all-new model is just amazing!!! It brings back the vintage Maxi-Markers and ads fat hands as well as a ceramic bezel insert and perhaps most important of all, the super innovative Rolex Glidelock bracelet which is pictured at the bottom of this story. It is also important to note that Rolex made a bold and intelligent move to retain the satin-finished (brushed) center links on the all-new Rolex Submariner, thus recognizing and respecting its tool-watch nature.
Rolex describes the all-new Rolex Submariner:
ON LAND AND SEA
The quintessential divers’ watch, the absolute reference in its genre, the Submariner has expanded its horizons far beyond the element of its birth in 1953, while denying nothing of its aquatic origins. At home in the depths of the oceans, a universe in which it remains the basic instrument of every diver, it long ago conquered terra firma, as the watch of action.
Waterproof to 100, 200, then 300 metres as it successively evolved since its launch, the Submariner has always been the symbol of Rolex’s supremacy in waterproofness.
Timeless and impervious to the elements, it is today available in a steel version sporting new features. Its 40 mm case in 904L steel, synonymous with robustness, waterproof-ness and corrosion resistance, boasts a new rotatable bezel fitted with a practically scratchproof black Cerachrom insert —or green for the model with the green dial—with platinum graduations.
Penumbra and soft light
As much in its element in the penumbra of the ocean floor as in the soft light of sophistication, this new Submariner Date offers exceptional legibility thanks to hour markers and hands coated with luminescent Chromalight.
Its mechanical movement equipped with a Perpetual rotor and a Parachrom hairspring pledges increased chronometric precision and reliability. Its unidirectional rotatable graduated bezel allows the safe reading of dive time.
A power of seduction that never goes out of style
This new model is no stranger to comfort. The Rolex Glidelock clasp allows for fine adjustments of the bracelet length. On land as at sea, watch and wearer are bound by the emotional charge deriving from the Submariner’s irresistible power of seduction.
Rolex Oyster Glidelock Bracelet
The all new Rolex Submariner LN and LV both feature the extremely innovative Rolex Oyster Glidelock Bracelet which allows the wearer to easily micro-adjust the bracelet without even having to take the bracelet of their wrist–and this all happens without tools.
This incredible feature is also extremely beneficial for Rolex Authorized Dealers when they have the watch on display in the store, because if a customer wants to try the watch on, the salesman can instantly customize the Rolex Oyster bracelet to fit their wrist perfectly. Prior to the Glidelock bracelet, a potential purchaser would have to put a watch on their wrist with a bracelet that was way too big and they would have to hold it closed to fit their wrist. The Glidelock is an design, engineering and manufacturing marvel that is a magnificent Rolex innovation.
As Rolex mentioned, The Rolex Submariner not only dominated the aquatic world, but also on terra firma (dry land) as well as flying through the heavens at speeds faster than sound. We see Chuck Yeager below sporting his Rolex Submariner Big Crown [Reference 6538] in 1956, at the beginning of the Space Race when he commanded the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Research Pilots School where he trained pilots for the United States Space Program.
Despite the fact that Chuck Yeager was an ultra-succesful test Air Force pilot he did not go onto NASA to become an astronaut, but he personally trained almost half the future NASA Astronauts who participated in the pioneering NASA Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs which culminated in landing a man on the moon and safely returning him to earth.
Transcending The DEEP-SEA
The First Tool Watch
The Rolex Submariner
The Rolex Submariner has remained very popular for more than the last half-century, but the Submariner also proved itself as the ultimate tool watch for divers and actual Submariner's. We see a Rolex ad from 1967 below showing the Submariner as a tool watch. The Submariner was also the father of the Rolex SEA-DWELLER which was co-developed between the U.S. Navy SEA-LAB program and Rolex. The result of which was a tool watch that allowed divers to descend even deeper into the oceans.
Transcending Popular Culture
James Bond's Rolex Submariner
Sean Connery played James Bond and wore his Rolex Submariner in the first James Bond film, Dr. No in 1962, and again in 1964 he reprised his role as the British Super-Spy in Goldfinger where he wore his Rolex Submariner.
The following screen shot shows Sean Connery's Big Crown Rolex Submariner on a regimental nylon strap. This close-up of James Bond's Rolex made the Rolex Submariner the must-have cool watch and helped to further popularize it in the mid 1960s.
Transcending Timeless Style
The Steve McQueen Submariner
The Rolex Submariner has remained very popular in Hollywood movies ever since Sean Connery wore his when he played James Bond, but the interesting thing is that many famous actors wore them as their personal everyday watch like Steve McQueen pictured below sporting his trademark Rolex Submariner [Reference 5512]. The Rolex Submariner has developed a legacy of not only being the ultimate tool watch, but also the ultimate timeless, cool, macho sport watch!!!!
Today at BaselWorld in Switzerland, in addition to the standard black Rolex Submariner, Rolex introduced an all-new Submariner LV with a green ceramic bezel insert and a green gold dial. This watch features the great Rolex Glidelock Bracelet.
I am officially dubbing this new green on green Submariner as the 7UP Submariner ;-) Its green dial is actually green gold, which is composed of gold mixed with aluminum to achieve the special shade of dark green. Rolex actually produces the dials themselves in their foundry.
One of the interesting features of both the black and the green Submariner models is the all-new ceramic bezel insert that has white-gold inlaid numbers which give the bezel a much more 3 Dimensional look, much more like the bezel insert on the Rolex Yacht-Master.
The green Submariner should be priced about $400 more than the black version and should cost around $7500 in U.S. Dollars. It should also be available for purchase in July.
Rolex is one of the most recognizable brands on earth, but very little has been known about its real history. If you really, really want to understand what makes Rolex tick, I very highly recommend you read the fascinating story of Rolex's amazing founder–Hans Wilsdorf.
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