With new Rolex Explorers virtually impossible to purchase at retail price today, here are five alternatives of similar design, utility, and pedigree.
1. Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M Co-Axial Master Chronometer 41 MM
The Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra with a stainless steel bracelet and black dial may be the best alternative to the Rolex Explorer. Although the Aqua Terra was designed with a maritime emphasis and the Explorer is (arguably) a field watch, like the Explorer, the Aqua Terra is first and foremost a tool watch. Given the similarity in design and utility, one may assume that the Aqua Terra is Omega's answer to Rolex's Explorer.
2. Cartier Santos de Cartier
The Santos is probably not the first alternative to the Rolex Explorer that someone would consider, but its beautiful timeless design, robust build, and rich history as the first pilots watch and first wrist watch for men make the Santos the perfect Explorer alternative.
The timeless art deco design of the Santos permits the watch to be used as an everyday sports watch or a black tie dress watch. The Santos comes standard with both a stainless steel bracelet and a leather strap, making it easy to dress this watch for every occasion.
3. Tudor Black Bay 36
Although Tudor is not exactly in the same class of luxury as Rolex, the Black Bay 36 may be the closest watch in appearance and utility to the Explorer.
Wrapped in a 36 mm polished stainless steel case, the contrast of white hour markers on the sharp black dial will likely make even the most avid watch enthusiasts do a double take to verify that this is not an Explorer. Given that Rolex owns Tudor, the Black Bay 36 appears to be an attempt by Rolex to make a more accessible version of the Explorer.
4. Grand Seiko Spring Drive SBGA211 (aka "The Snowflake")
The Snowflake is probably Grand Seiko's most popular watch. With its minimalist titanium bracelet and beautiful white dial that mimics the look of freshly fallen snow, it is easy to see why. This conservative and robust yet elegant timepiece is the perfect Explorer alternative for those seeking a versatile everyday watch.
5. Hamilton Khaki Field Auto
Hamilton offers some of the best watches for the prices it asks. The Khaki Field Auto is no exception.
The Khaki Field Auto may not have the prestige of the Explorer, but it certainty has the looks and utility. With highly legible white Arabic numeral hour markers on a slick black dial and an 80 hour power reserve, the Khaki Field Auto is the perfect everyday watch.