Rugged, durable, reliable and precise – all of these adjectives accurately describe two of the most coveted Rolex sport watches: the Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Explorer II. When it comes to deciding which Rolex to purchase, you have some thinking to do. Both are signature Rolex watches but display somewhat different Rolex trademarked features.
Read on for a breakdown of differences between the Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Explorer II. After reading this, we hope you will be able to make an informed choice about your next Rolex purchase.
To begin with, the names of the two watches show us the first and most important difference. The Submariner is primarily a dive watch and is used for underwater activities in general. By contrast, the Explorer II is used for outdoor activities that don’t involve water, such as climbing. This difference actually determined the choice of features for one watch as opposed to the other.
Although both are used for outdoor activities, the Submariner is seen by some as more rugged and therefore typically worn with more casual outfits, whereas the Explorer II has a more classic look. The simple reason is that the Submariner doesn’t sit as comfortably under a shirt cuff as the Explorer II does, so the Explorer II is more comfortable when worn with a suit.
The Explorer II is made of 904L steel, an extremely durable superalloy, and Rolex is one of the few watchmakers who use it for their watches. The Submariner comes in 904L steel, a combination of steel & yellow gold, solid yellow gold, and solid white gold.
The case size is one reason why some people find that the Rolex Submariner appears more rugged than the Explorer II. The Submariner has a super case of 40mm diameter compared to the Explorer II case with a 39mm diameter.
However, the 1mm difference in diameter alone cannot possibly account for the perceived difference in size. It’s actually the larger bracelet lugs on the Submariner that make it appear much bigger. Larger lugs create the illusion of greater size without affecting the diameter of the watchcase.
Another reason why the Submariner appears even larger than it actually is compared to the Explorer II is its more pronounced bezel. The Submariner’s bezel is actually one of the key features of this watch – its unidirectional counterclockwise rotating bezel with graduations enables divers to time their dives. It has an insert made of Cerachrom ceramic, which is virtually unscratchable. What’s more, the bezel doesn’t change color from exposure to UV-rays.
By contrast, the Explorer II has 24-hour graduations carved into the bezel and a 24-hour hand, allowing human explorers to differentiate between night and day in extreme conditions. Although stainless steel isn’t as scratch-resistant as ceramic, it’s malleable, so it would bend rather than crack under pressure. The Cerachrom ceramic is very tough, but under extreme circumstances, has been seen to crack.
Bracelet and buckle
The Submariner and Explorer II have the same 20mm wide Oyster bracelet. For both watches, it has a satin finish on the outside links and high polish on the inside links.
The Submariner has a Rolex Glidelock clasp, which allows for 20mm of extension. This feature comes in very handy when divers can quickly adjust the bracelet to fit their watches over their thick wet suits. The Explorer II has an Easylink comfort extension link that allows for 5mm of extra room as needed. Both models feature the Rolex Oysterlock folding safety clasp.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, both watches are extremely precise, owing to their superlative chronometer movements. The official superlative chronometer certification means that the watches have passed hours of stringent tests to prove they live up to Rolex standards of accuracy and dependability.
On both watches, a solid non-see-through caseback (typical of Rolex watches) houses the watch mechanism. The Submariner uses a 3135 movement for the Date model and 3130 for the non-date, whereas the Explorer II has a 3187 movement.
As expected, the Rolex Submariner is water-resistant. Owing to the triple-seal Triplock winding crown, it has water-resistance of up to 1,000 ft.
With the Rolex Explorer II, however, shock-resistance is more important than water-resistance, which is why the Rolex Explorer II has newly improved shock-resistance features consisting of a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers.
As for the dial, the Submariner features luminous hour markers and hands crafted from 18k white gold that glow in the dark. A compound called Chromalight has been used on Rolex dials since 2008, and glows blue. Prior to 2008, a compound called Super Luminova that glowed green was used on Rolex dials. With glowing markers, hour hand and second hand, the wearer can tell time pretty clearly at night or in low-light capacity, such as underwater while diving. The markers can stay lit for as long as 8 hours!
The Explorer II also features luminous hour markers and numerals, hour hand, second hand, and 24-hour hand.
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