Monochrome Watches
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The Rolex Explorer 1, Back to 36mm and in Two-Tone or Steel Editions

The 39mm Explorer is out and it’s back in the historic 36mm case.

| By Robin Nooy | 2 min read |
Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Rolesor 124273

Originally destined for greatness on the wrist of mountaineers when reaching the summit of Mt. Everest for the first time in 1953, the Explorer has remained a classic Rolex watch. New for 2021 is an eagerly anticipated 36mm case size for the Explorer 1, which replaces the 39mm case that was used since 2010, and a striking two-tone Rolesor model in the new size. Meet the new Rolex Explorer 1 36mm ref. 124270 and 124273. This welcome comeback to the original size is something we anticipated in our predictions

Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Rolesor 124273

The Oyster case for the new Explorer models measures 36mm in diameter, replacing the previous 39mm Explorer reference 214270. This smaller size marks a return to the original diameter produced from 1953 to 2010, and for Rolex, this constitutes quite a bold move. The new 36mm Explorer comes in both steel (124270) or steel-and-gold Rolesor (124273), a term coined by Rolex in 1933 to indicate two-tone models incorporating gold. The dial remains solid black lacquer with applied baton hour markers and the familiar 3, 6 and 9 Arabic numerals filled with the latest generation of Chromalight luminous material. On the Oystersteel model, hands and indexes are white gold, while these are made from yellow gold on the new Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Rolesor. 

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Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Rolesor 124273

On the Explorer Rolesor 124273, the centre links for the bracelet along with the crown and bezel are executed in polished 18k yellow gold in stark contrast with the brushed steel. Underneath that new exterior, there are also new mechanics. Rolex incorporates the calibre 3230 inside the Explorer, a movement we know well from other ranges like the no-date Submariner and 41mm and 36mm Oyster Perpetuals. The Oyster case ensures water-resistance of 100 metres.

Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Rolesor 124273

The automatic 3230 calibre has a Chronergy escapement. It features a Parachrom hairspring, which is up to 10 times more precise compared to a traditional hairspring. It also has an optimised geartrain, a high-capacity barrel storing up to 70 hours of power reserve and a new oscillating weight for more rapid winding. Needless to say, this movement comes with Superlative Chronometer certification, running within -2/+2 seconds per day.

Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Oystersteel 124270

The new Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Oystersteel 124270 will be priced at EUR 6,100. The new Rolex Explorer 1 36mm Rolesor 124273 will be priced at EUR 10,300. More information on

7 responses

  1. Yes!! Was hoping the steel 36mm would make a return. It’s the only Rolex I want. The Explorer 1 is an odd beast. Even if the oyster bracelet is the industry benchmark for wearability, I find this watch utterly insipid in stock form. Switch out the steel for matte leather or cloth and the thing comes alive. Making a call now to put my name down for the steel.

  2. Do you think it will de-value the pre-owned older 36mm explorers (namely the 14270, 114270)?

  3. The two-tone goes straight into the ghastly kitsch section of the Rolex catalog, next to the Yachtmaster II and Air King

  4. They just need the domed crystal and they just about have it right. The price is about 10 times what I paid for mine. Inflation must be horrendous in Switzerland

  5. I’m sure that it will sell as the 36mm Explorer is a classic but £700.00 seems like rather a steep premium to pay over the 36mm Oyster Perpetual range – or am I missing something in terms of the detail?

  6. The 39mm Explorer’s value is already starting to creep up quite a bit.

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