Rolex Explorer I review

Made of 904L steel. The lugs, which are brushed at the top but whose sides are polished, blend very nicely with the bracelet in a smooth taper. The polished bezel is the central key in making this watch appropriate for formal/professional wear like suits in my opinion. Thus seeing the polished bezel (the sides of the case are also polished) matched with the brushed finish of the lugs give it both a dressy and sporty/casual look.

I used to dislike the 3-6-9 numerals, but I think that it actually adds to the sporty/casual look of the Explorer. And many people complain about the lack of lumination -- I actually find the solid white gold markers without the lume is the classier choice...otherwise it'd look too much like a glow in the dark toy. If it had only the stick markers then it would be a little too dressy/formal for days where I'd just go out with shorts and polos. The gray matte background has a very subtle color difference depending on the lighting that I hold the watch in, which is a cool effect. Also the white gold markers/borders really do add to the substance of such an unimposing look.

And in terms of the notorious complaint about the short minute and hour hands....I only notice it when I see a blown up image and analyze every millimeter of the watch on my computer screen. But when holding or wearing it in person, I've never had trouble reading nor did I feel the watch was imbalanced in any way. I actually think not going into the maxi-dial approach retains the classiness of the Exp I.

In short: it takes the best of both formal and casual elegance, and blends them together in a very understated manner. Forming something that is appropriate in nearly any occasion.

The solid end links, along with the solid links bracelet (from 904L steel too) feels....very...solid . It's super smooth and comfortable when fit onto my wrist and has a nice weight to it -- I do the 1 pinky fit. It doesn't swish around when I move my wrist in any position...and doesn't give me deep markings when I take it off. My only complaint is that it still squeaks when the bracelet swings free, but the noise has since decreased after taking it to the shower (warm water + soap helps easing it in I suppose). Once again, the brush finish + polished sides on the bracelet is in line with the Explorer's goal of combining the rugged sportiness with class.

Movement (accuracy)
I'm gonna step away from talking about the merits of the blue parachrom hairspring and the paraflex shock absorbers in the the Exp I movement (Caliber 3132) I don't have any other watch to compare how great these additions are to the movement, which is the same as the movements in the Submariners minus the date wheel. It has a nice, controlled ticking sound when I hold it to my ear, and is running around +3 to +5 a day. I only started setting the watch crown down when I sleep, and do notice that it slows down very slightly the next it's a good trick to have when self-regulating the accuracy with some master clock. All in all it's running within COSC specs and is not gaining like 30 seconds or 2+ minutes a I have no complaints here. When I first held the watch within the first few minutes of unboxing, the movement actually began to tick as if it couldn't wait to get started

The crown unwinds very smoothly, and pops out without any trouble in either the 1st or 2nd position. Setting the time is very easy, and I especially like how once I push the crown back in the minute hands do not accidentally jolt forward/backwards...making the whole process very accurate with a solid feel.

The clasp is also very well made, fits perfectly with a crisp CLICK when I put on the watch -- but you don't have to press down with any effort. It just seems to connect naturally. And lastly the EZ link extension is also very easy to use, though I don't need it very much unless I wear my watch after a workout or something.

The lume on the markers is cool -- I like its blue tone, though I don't think it's something to fret over as I don't usually look at the time when I sleep at night . Charging it does give it a very intensely bright blue, and I think it lasts quite a while since I've seen at least some hint of lume during the random checkups I've done every now and then under different lighting conditions.

So all in all I cannot say enough great things about this watch. Anyone out there still searching for his first Rolex...this is my recommendation hands down...unless you want stranger passerbys to know that you have a badass Rolex blinged out on your wrist. This watch flies under the radar without any trouble, I wear it to my lab, parties, formal events without feeling like it's either too dressy or too casual.

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