Monochrome Watches
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Rolex Predictions 2021 – The Rolex Explorer 1 in 41mm and 36mm with a Polar Dial

Bringing more options to the Crown's classic adventure watch.

| By Brice Goulard | 4 min read |
Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer 36mm Calibre 3230

Following our vision of what the new Rolex Explorer II might be, we continue our Rolex Predictions 2021 with another member of the Explorer family, the brand’s classic adventurer’s watch, the Explorer I. One of the few watches of the brand without the new-generation movement, and one that hasn’t been updated in many years (except a small change on hands in 2016), we think it’s time for the Crown to give this watch, one of our favourite models, a contemporary twist. So, let’s have a look at what we think could be the new Rolex Explorer 1 for 2021, with more options available than in the past.

Please note that this article is a figment of our imagination. These are just predictions. Nothing is official. It is based on our own expectations and analysis.

The only version of the Rolex Explorer 1 currently available, the 39mm reference 214270 with black dial.

Born in 1953, the Rolex Explorer is one of the most enduring watches in the collection. Having a strong link to the first attempt to reach Mount Everest’s summit, the watch has always been associated with exploration and adventure. Robust, simple but with a certain classic elegance, the Explorer has undergone several evolutions. The first major update came in the late 1980s, when Rolex introduced the reference 14270, giving its Explorer a glossy dial and applied indexes. The second significant change occurred in 2010. With reference 214270, Rolex increased the size of the case for the first time, from 36mm to the current 39mm. Finally, in 2016, Rolex corrected its Explorer 214270 with the Mk2, bringing back the luminous 3-6-9 indexes and some appropriately longer hands.

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Just like the Oyster Perpetual, we expect (but don’t really wish) the Explorer 1 to be released in 41mm and 36mm.

For years, there has been only one version of the Explorer 1 available, in 39mm, with a stainless steel case and a black dial. For our Rolex Predictions 2021, we expect this to change, and we easily see the Crown adding more options to its adventurer’s watch.

First and foremost, the Rolex Explorer 1 for 2021 could be available in two sizes. Following the Oyster Perpetual update in 2020, with a 36mm and a 41mm case, we expect the same for the Explorer 1. These two collections would share the same cases and bracelets, with identical proportions. Compared to the current 39mm edition, the case would be slightly more slender, with thinner lugs and bezel, yet with an overall increased or reduced diameter, depending on the version.

If this makes sense strategically, playing on the trend for larger and also smaller watches, we secretly hope here, at MONOCHROME, that Rolex will keep the 39mm diameter of the Explorer 1 intact… The 41mm case of the new OP models is somehow unbalanced and feels oversized, while 39mm is extremely versatile and comfortable for most men’s wrists. However, if a 36mm option is added to the collection, this would change the situation quite drastically.

Regarding the dial of this 2021 Rolex Explorer 1, we don’t see the brand making major changes. Apart from updated dimensions, the hands, numerals and markers would be visually identical. What is almost certain is that if Rolex decides to update this watch, it will feature the latest-generation movement: the Calibre 3230. Also found in the no-date Submariner or the 41mm and 36mm editions of the Oyster Perpetual, this modern movement features the Chronergy escapement and comes with an extended power reserve of 70 hours.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer 36mm Calibre 3230

These Rolex Predictions 2021 are also a way for us to express our own wishes and dreams, and again this year we return to our idea of the Polar Explorer. With this example of the Oyster Perpetual 39, Rolex proved that a matte white dial on a time-only watch was a stunning combination. As such, we’d like to use these predictions to send yet another request to Rolex, asking the Crown to consider making a Polar edition of the Explorer 1. And because it could be part of the 2021 collection, it would also be available in 41mm and 36mm and powered by the Calibre 3230.

What’s your take on these predictions? Do you think Rolex will update the Explorer I? Do you like the idea of having the choice of 41 or 36mm diameters? And do you also secretly wish for a white dial version? Share your feelings in the comment section. And stay tuned tomorrow as we’ll bring more predictions!

Note: this article is based on our own Photoshop mock-ups, nothing has been provided officially from Rolex. These Rolex Predictions 2021 are based on our imagination and expectations. All images are under license of MONOCHROME and should not be used without agreement or copyright (©Monochrome-Watches, 2021).

31 responses

  1. explorer will remain as is and get the new movement 3230. it’s perfect that way.
    explorer II will get the updated movement, too and keep the overall design.
    the milgauss will be renovated with new colors and a new movement and a new case size.
    the aviator will be discontinued until further ado.

  2. Yes, I would like to see the Crown offer a 36mm black dial Explorer. Personally I like the black dial(Mat) more than the white. Again, the problem arises as to whether you can actually buy one. If not, it’s still good looking.

  3. I would be against anything new for Explorer I this year. I think only Explorer II will get update in 2021. Two sizes would be kind of interesting, but I think next Explorer will be 41.

  4. I have the mk2 explorer 1 i(39mm). For some reason, it wears larger than my sea dweller or Omega seamaster. Probably because of its bezel and lugs.

    Think for my wrist (17.5cm) and the “layout” of the Explorer-1, best size would be 36 although some other 39’s (the Seiko Alpinist for example) have a close to perfect size (for me). Dial color ? Preferable mat black but Polar also looks great.

  5. 36 would be great, but apart from the Yacht Master, it seems like the Professional range is all one case size per watch.

    Keeping a different case also keeps at least some semblance of an excuse for the explorer price premium to the OP, especially now the OP has easy link. Maybe glidelock on the Explorer?

  6. Would love to see the 36mm option, also to allow for unisex and women who love the explorer but 39mm is too big. One point of feedback – with the mock-ups you do it would be great if you can keep them in proportion to each other (bracelets I believe are both 20mm lug width so should be the same size for reference) rather than exaggerating the wise difference.

  7. Perhaps rolex will roll out the new edition, if it happens, to their vaunted ADs, like C.D. Peacock in Chicago and Geary’s in Los Angeles. You know, the ones that do the hide and bait and switch stuff with their allotments. Just to give everyone an equal chance at availability. By the way, again, that’s sarcasm.

  8. Just update the movement and have them actually available to buyers. Wait lists suck at an age when you can just go to an Omega or Grand Seiko boutique and get pretty much any watch on standard issue offer off the shelf right there.

  9. I hope they fill the size void, tho. 36 is a touch small for me…ok sometimes. My smallest now is Nomos Tangente Sport at 35. But it’s all (gorgeous) dial. Wide bezel is an issue at at size. 41 is too big. 38 is perfect, usually. So I would like something there. Milgauss, Explorer, OP…all fine with me.

    Although, yeah, I can’t see pulling the trigger while the street prices remain absurd.

  10. Oooooh love the idea of a 41 Polar Explorer, especially if it is the same beautiful white as the Explorer II.

  11. I own an Air King 114200 (white dial, 35mm) with 3,6,9 hours from 2015 – very similar to the hoped-for 36mm Explorer here (cal.3130). Nearest thing to a white Explorer yet in the real world.

  12. I’m surprised the team used the 114300 as an example of what a Polar Explorer could look like, when there’s a much closer example.
    Just before the demise of the original Air King there was a white dial version available around 2010 together with 3-6-9 numerals, only missing the inverted triangle. It’s reference 114200. This ended with an even rarer iteration when the Air King moniker was dropped for a one-year only OP in 2014/15. Look it up!

  13. 41 and 36. Like the old 36 snd 39, these will be so far apart that many will like neither. People wonder why the 39mm wears so large. It’s the 30mm dial. That’s 2mm larger than the dial on the supercase Subs and GMTs. 41 OPs wear like dinner plates with the 33mm dials. Explorer 1 as is, is a modern, full sized, sports watch. Big enough.

  14. Thanks for that, Fabian – most useful information.
    I had no idea my 2015 Air-King iteration would in any way be considered close to a Rolex rarity – it’s certainly not regarded as such, being the perfect everyday, every situation watch.
    Prospective 114200 Air-King hunters should note that the 3, 6, 9 numerals are black infill, non-luminous – the hands are proportionally smaller as well (in keeping with the reduced diameter of the dial).
    2014 was the last year of production for 114200.

  15. If this prediction come true I will be knocking on my AD’s door requesting one, a white dial Explorer would be perfect.

  16. I love my 14 and 214 already. I think Rolex its not going to move…maybe an update in the 214 (movement).
    Love Explorer, I think it is THE watch.

  17. With a box crystal and in 36mm with the black dial it would be just right

  18. 39mm or 41mm is pretty close together when comparing the OP. So for me both would be ok for a future update of the Ex1. But a rubber strap with adaptable clasp would be a great option even if I really like Rolex metal straps.

  19. No point launching new design if the watch was not available to be purchased……..

  20. I like the 39mm Ex1 with a black dial but wish they reduce / replace the large flat bezel with a smaller rounded bezel.

  21. The Exporer 1 will be left as is. The Exporer 2 is the one watch. 2021 is ut’s 50th anniversary!
    So it makes sense to update that

  22. Change for no other reason then `we need to make a change` usualy does not lead to improvement. I think the explorer is beyond improvement as nothing else can be left out so it has reached perfection in it`s class. Change would mean adding things which strays away from the achieved perfection. As that makes no sense at all it is likely Rolex will make these changes …….

  23. I never understood why the Explorer I is named so,when really it is not and Explorer,like really is the Explorer II. Why? Because has date,and specially has a hand that indicates if the time is day or night(for example if the explorer is more than a day inside a cavern,etc.) I say again,the Explorer I is a very beautiful watch,but it is not a tool for a explorer

  24. If there is a 36mm black dial Explorer released, they can add my name to the list. Having owned the 214270 and sold it due to its size, a 36mm Explorer is perhaps the only watch they could release that I would be prepared to wait for.

  25. People are over extending the idea of 41mm watches just because the OP and sub did it last year.

    The day date, yachtmaster both moved to 70 hr power reserves and are at 40mm.

    They can easily keep the explorer at 39mm and a 70 hr power reserve. If they did, it’ll be a huge hit .

    They know what they’re doing. The white OP was too popular for an entry level. Make it an explorer, charge a premium and watch it go crazy ! Do it!

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