The Oyster Perpetual Explorer, introduced in 1953 following the first ascent to the summit of Everest, embodies the spirit of adventure and the perseverance that lies behind every exploit.

On 29 May 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa were the first to reach Mount Everest’s 8,848-metre summit. Members of a British expedition that was equipped with Oyster Perpetual watches, the two men’s remarkable human adventure served to further reinforce the reputation of Rolex timepieces. The Oyster Perpetual Explorer, launched in 1953 in the wake of the first successful ascent of the world’s highest mountain, celebrates the courage and determination of the most intrepid explorers.


The Explorer is emblematic of the close ties between Rolex and exploration. As early as the 1930s, the brand began to equip numerous Himalayan expeditions with Oyster watches. This pioneering move illustrated the company’s ambition to use the world as a laboratory, testing its watches in real conditions in order to continually improve them. The feedback that Rolex received from the members of these different expeditions therefore had a direct influence on the evolution of its watches, making them more precise and robust.


As it has evolved, the Explorer has progressively incorporated Rolex’s technological innovations, such as the Parachrom hairspring and high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers. In 2021, the watch returned to the size of the original model launched in 1953: its redesigned case, fitted on a resized bracelet, took on a 36 mm diameter once more, after having been increased to 39 mm in 2010. As of 2023, this exploration tool is also available in a 40 mm version. The sleek black lacquer high-contrast dial offers excellent legibility in all circumstances. Even in the dark, the dial is easy to read thanks to the Chromalight display: the index hour markers, hands and emblematic 3, 6, 9 numerals are filled or coated with a luminescent material emitting a long-lasting blue glow – for up to two times longer than traditional phosphorescent materials.


Like all Rolex watches, the Explorer is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation attests that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories and according to its own criteria. These certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.

The precision of every movement – officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – is tested a second time by Rolex after being cased, to ensure that it meets criteria that are far stricter than those of the official certification. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone.

The Superlative Chronometer certification testing is carried out after casing using state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex and according to an exclusive protocol that simulates the conditions in which a watch is actually worn and more closely represents real-life experience. The entirely automated series of tests also checks the waterproofness, the self-winding capacity and the power reserve of 100 per cent of Rolex watches. These tests systematically complement the qualification testing upstream during development and production, in order to ensure the watches’ reliability, robustness, and resistance to strong magnetic fields and to shocks.


The Explorer’s Oyster case, 36 mm or 40 mm in diameter and guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness and reliability. The middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that grants only Rolex watchmakers access to the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system, screws down securely against the case. The crystal is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire and benefits from an anti-reflective coating. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimal protection for the movement it houses.


The Explorer 36 and Explorer 40 are equipped with calibre 3230, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate demonstration of technology, this movement carries a number of patents. It offers outstanding performance, particularly in terms of precision, power reserve, convenience and reliability.

Calibre 3230 incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, made of nickel-phosphorus, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability and is also resistant to strong magnetic fields.

The movement is fitted with the blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. In addition to resisting strong magnetic fields, this hairspring offers great stability in the face of temperature variations as well as high resistance to shocks. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position.

The oscillator of calibre 3230 has a large balance wheel with variable inertia regulated extremely precisely via gold Microstella nuts. It is held firmly in place by a height-adjustable traversing bridge enabling very stable positioning to increase shock resistance. The oscillator is also mounted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, further enhancing the movement’s shock resistance.

Calibre 3230 is equipped with a self-winding system via a Perpetual rotor, which ensures continuous winding of the mainspring by harnessing the movements of the wrist to provide constant energy. Its oscillating weight has been fitted with an optimized ball bearing since 2023. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of this movement extends to approximately 70 hours.

The Explorer’s movement will be seen only by certified Rolex watchmakers, yet it is beautifully finished and decorated. Since 2023, it has also been marked with the words ‘Chronometer Perpetual’ and ‘Superlative Adjusted’ engraved respectively on the oscillating weight and on the bridges.


The Explorer 36 and Explorer 40 are available on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet. This bracelet is equipped with a Rolex-designed, patented Oysterlock safety clasp, which prevents accidental opening. It is fitted with the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by the brand, which allows the wearer to easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm, for additional comfort in any circumstance.



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