Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The New Rolex Explorer 40mm

The classic Explorer with a stainless steel case and black dial is back in a new 40mm case size.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 2 min read |

A robust purpose-built tool watch, the Explorer was launched in 1953 and put to the test on polar and mountaineering expeditions. In a surprising move for Rolex, the Explorer was revisited in 2021 and shrunk into a compact and historically correct 36mm case size, and we predicted that a larger case size was probably in the works. Today, Rolex unveils the Explorer 40 reference 224270 in Oystersteel with a black lacquered dial, the signature Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and automatic calibre 3230 with Chronergy escapement.

As a supplier of Oyster watches to numerous Himalayan expeditions, including the team behind the successful ascent of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953, in exchange, Rolex would obtain vital information on the performance of its watches and how to make them more precise and robust. Although the traits we now associate with the Explorer had not materialised before the epic ascent, and the name of the watch was not featured on the dial in the very first references, the DNA of the Explorer is a black dial, Arabic numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and a Mercedes-style hour hand.

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When Rolex introduced the 36mm Explorer in a classic steel edition (ref. 124270) and a surprising Rolesor edition (ref. 124273) in 2021, it signalled the demise of the 39mm models and a return to the original diameter of the historic 1953 model.

The latest Explorer, crafted from a solid block of corrosion-resistant Oystersteel, measures 40mm across and has a thickness of 11.60mm. The Twinlock screw-down crown and sealed caseback ensure a water-resistance of 100m. The three-link Oyster bracelet features the Oysterlock folding safety clasp and the brand’s Easylink comfort extension link to adjust the bracelet by 5mm. Like former editions, the flat steel bezel is polished, while the middle case and bracelet have satin-brushed finishings with polished bevels.

The glossy black lacquered dial hosts applied Arabic numerals at 3-6-9, baton markers and an inverted triangle at noon, all treated with white Chromalight luminescent material emitting a long-lasting blue glow in the dark. The dial is protected by a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating.

Introduced inside the 36mm models of 2021, the new 40mm model also receives Rolex calibre 3230 with Superlative Chronometer certification. This automatic movement is fitted with a Chronergy escapement and a Parachrom paramagnetic hairspring – ten times more precise than a traditional hairspring – and its high-capacity barrel delivers a 70h power reserve.

The new Rolex Explorer 40 (ref. 224270) retails for EUR 7,650. More details at

6 responses

  1. Nice one. What is the lug with?
    They could have further increased the width of the bracelet to fit the proportions of the old 36mm watches (1016 to 1144270).

  2. I think lug is 21mm as it is the same case Roelx used for new AK last year.

  3. I am not generally a Rolex fan, I have owned a few and found they do not live up to the hype but are just very well made standard Swiss watches. Kind of like an upmarket Longines. I am not sure that a 40mm Explorer is a good move by Rolex, but I suppose they determined there was a market (or at least a waiting list) for the watch in this size. On a more general note – thanks to the Monochrome team for excellent and clear coverage of Watches and Wonders.

  4. I wish they would be more innovative, maybe next year they release a 36mm version?

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