Exploring iconic timepieces (updated)


  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 08 Jan 2020

The Rolex Explorer was launched in 1953 in honour of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by an expedition equipped with Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches. Pictured here are Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first men to summit Mount Everest in 1953.

THE Hour Glass and Rolex is staging an exhibition featuring the Explorer and Explorer II watches that evolved from Rolex’s involvement in some of the greatest adventures in exploration of the past century.

The exhibition, “A Watch Born to Explore”, will be held for the first time in Malaysia exclusively at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur centre court from Feb 14 to 23.

For generations, pioneering explorers have attested to the watches’ reliability in the toughest conditions.

Through illustrated panels and films, visitors will discover the story behind the development of the Explorer, which was launched in 1953 in honour of the first successful ascent of Mount Everest by an expedition equipped with Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches.

Later, the Explorer II, created in 1971, became the watch of choice of speleologists, volcanologists and explorers of every corner of the globe.

The story of the Explorer is deeply bound with the history of Rolex. From the 1930s, Rolex began to test its watches in real-life conditions — using the world as a “living laboratory.”

More than a dozen high-altitude expeditions and some of the world’s greatest explorers were equipped with Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches as they ventured into some of the most hostile terrains on earth.

In return, the brand received valuable feedback on the performance of its timepieces in extreme conditions. This was used to develop precise, reliable tool watches.

Special features have made the Oyster Perpetual Explorer particularly adapted to the needs of explorers. It was created to tell time accurately, whatever the circumstances.

The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer.The Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer.

Not only is the watch robust, it has simple, contrasting aesthetics that aid legibility. And as it has evolved over the years, the Explorer has remained faithful to its heritage and unique identity while encompassing Rolex’s technological innovations, such as Paraflex shock absorbers.

Since 2010, it has been a bolder watch in a larger 39mm case. The Chromalight hour markers are filled with a luminescent material emitting a long-lasting blue glow that offers excellent legibility in any situation, while the emblematic 3,6 and 9 numerals stand out in contrast on the sleek dial.

In particular, thanks to its 24-hour display by means of an additional hand and an engraved fixed bezel, the Explorer II allows the wearer to clearly distinguish daytime from night-time hours.

The original 1971 model was restyled in 2011 with a case increased in size to 42mm. On expeditions, the Explorer II, which is equipped with calibre 3187, can also be used to display the time in two time zones.

The self-winding mechanical movement exemplifies the qualities inherent in all Rolex timepieces: robustness, reliability, precision and ease of use. This watch designed for extremes is heir to the privileged relationship that has always united Rolex and exploration.

In the 21st century, Rolex’s unique involvement with explorers has developed into a commitment to preserve the environment.

Under the banner of Perpetual Planet, the brand is joining forces with key individuals and organisations who are working to promote exploration and the protection of the environment, in addition to encouraging future generations of explorers.

Note: The exhibition has been postponed until further notice due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak

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