11 Rolex Explorer Alternatives (Tribute & Affordable Watch Options)

Rolex Explorer alternatives

The Rolex Explorer is known worldwide as one of the toughest watches that can be used anywhere and is the ultimate watch for the adventurous soul. The Rolex Explorer I and II continue to be the preferred tool watch for extreme environments by researchers, scientists and mountaineers. Over the years, his stature, reputation and demand have grown exponentially. Although in demand around the world, the high price remains a problem for many. For example, a brand new Explorer currently costs over five thousand USD. However, many brands have introduced watches similar to the Rolex Explorer at affordable prices.

This article contains a number of watch alternatives to the Rolex Explorer from various brands. In turn, we will highlight the characteristics of the recommended alternatives along with brand information. We will also understand why the Explorer is so popular.

Rolex Explorer II 216570
Rolex Explorer II 216570. Picture: Bobuhren

Rolex Explorer

The Rolex Explorer was originally introduced in 1953 and focused heavily on functionality under extreme conditions. The first Explorer relied on a simple design to achieve effective results. The black dial with large 3, 6 and 9 markings ensured readability even under the toughest conditions. However, when darkness set in, the luminescent markers and hands continued to ensure legibility. This made the first Explorer an ultimate tool watch.

Then followed in 1971 the Explorer II. The new Explorer had a date display, a fixed bezel with 24-hour markings. In addition, an additional orange hour hand helped to distinguish between day and night with the bezel. Over the years, explorers I and II have adorned the hands of explorers, climbers, volcanologists, and speleologists.

The Explorers made of 940L Oystersteel keep their shine even in extreme environments. Both watches have a double waterproof system. This makes the Explorers waterproof up to 100 m. While the Explorer I houses the caliber 3132 movements, the Explorer II houses the caliber 3187. Both, Rolex, built mechanical movements with automatic windings. In addition, the tool watch has a Parachrom spiral for better stability and Paraflex shock absorbers for more resistance.

Note that this article contains alternatives to the 39mm Explorer and not the Explorer II.

Best affordable Rolex Explorer alternatives

Ball Engineer III pioneer

Ball Engineer III pioneer
Ball Engineer III pioneer

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The Ball Watch Company is a truly global brand. An American company based in Switzerland that belongs to a Hong Kong group. The Ball brand, founded in Ohio, USA in 1891, made a name for itself with the growth of the American railroad. With more than a century of watchmaking experience, the Ball brand continues to create beautiful timepieces.

The Pioneer model under engineer III The collection shares a close look with the Rolex Explorer.

The 40 mm 904L stainless steel case houses an automatic caliber BALL RR1103-C under the anti-reflective sapphire crystal. The black dial and the luminous hands and markings make reading at night easier. And the watch is water resistant to 100 m.

To find out more about the brand, read our review here.

Tudor Heritage Ranger

Tudor Heritage Ranger
Tudor Heritage Ranger

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As a sister company of Rolex, the Tudor brand checks many criteria in terms of quality, craftsmanship and technology. Over the years, the Tudor brand has become synonymous with tool watches.

As a result, the Tudor Heritage Ranger compiles this list. In particular, the Heritage Ranger bracelet made of black steel with a dial. Inspired by the original icon from the 1960s – Oyster Prince Ranger – the updated watch is more than capable.

The luxury brand provides a variety of Rolex-like functions. The 41 mm stainless steel case contains the mechanical self-winding movement of caliber 2824. In addition, the watch is water-resistant up to 150 m and has a five-year guarantee. The Heritage Ranger is also available in elegant leather and fabric straps.

If you like this watch but still find it too expensive, we’ve put together a full list of Tudor Heritage alternatives here.

You can also read about Tudor here.

Sinn 556 A RS

Sinn 556 A RS
Sinn 556 A RS

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Helmut Sinn was founded in 1961 by a former World War II pilot and took off from Frankfurt. The German watchmaker offers a good alternative in the 556 A RS with the solid bracelet. The watch shares the simple and no-nonsense design aesthetic of the Rolex Explorer.

This includes the matt black dial and the large and luminous indexes. With the mechanical automatic movement SW200-1 in a 38.5 mm stainless steel case, the watch is elegantly sporty. The watch also has a clear sapphire crystal back and is water resistant up to 200 m. You will also receive a date display. You also have the option of choosing either a silicone or a leather strap.

Longine’s conquest

Longine's conquest
Longine’s conquest

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Auguste Agassiz founded the brand in 1832 in Saint-Imier, Switzerland. Longines has made some famous watches over the years and continues to make superior Swiss watches. This special collection is a good alternative to a Swiss luxury brand.

More specifically, the Longines Conquest L3. 776. 4. 58. 6, significantly cheaper than the Explorer. The watch has a black dial with hands and markings treated with Super-LumiNova in a 39 mm stainless steel case. The Conquest is waterproof up to 300 m and has a date display. The automatic movements of the L888 caliber are particularly well received.

Click here to learn more about Longines.

Omega Seamaster Railmaster

Omega Seamaster Railmaster
Omega Seamaster Railmaster

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If Rolex is too mainstream and you don’t mind the high price, consider the Omega Seamaster Railmaster. The Biel-based luxury brand Omega was founded in 1848. The Omega brand, founded by Louis Brandt, produces premium Swiss watch lines. With a rich history, famous porters and equal skills, this is an ideal alternative.

The Railmaster, first introduced in 1957, was constantly updated. The current model has a brushed black dial with stainless steel Super LumiNova hands in a 40 mm case. Above all, the OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer caliber 8806 drives the watch. The watch is water-resistant to 150 m and has a five-year guarantee.

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection

Grand Seiko Heritage Collection
Grand Seiko Heritage Collection

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The last watch on this list is a slight deviation from the design of the Rolex. We would like to introduce you to a Japanese luxury alternative. The Grand Seiko remains a great brand if you want to move away from the Swiss brands. While Grand Seiko watches cost almost as much as a Rolex, they’re more than capable alternatives. For example, a variety of models from their Heritage collection are similar to the Rolex Explorer.

Unlike Rolex, which prefers Arabic numerals, Seiko uses elegant indexes. We recommend the following models – SBGR257, SBGR317, SBGV223 and SBGH205. You’ll also get Seiko’s technical brilliance, superior quality, and Japanese craftsmanship. All of the above watches are water resistant to 10 bar.

Citizen Chandler

Citizen Chandler
Citizen Chandler

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The Japanese brand Citizen offers high quality watches at affordable prices. The brand’s eco-drive technology is valued by watch lovers around the world because it never needs a battery. As an alternative to the Rolex Explorer, the Citizen Chandler is a great case.

With a similar appearance, the Chandler features luminous hands on a black dial encased in a 43mm stainless steel case. The watch houses the J810 movement under the mineral crystal and is water resistant up to 100 m. However, if you are looking for something more difficult and powerful, you should consider that Citizen Promaster Tough.

Seiko SNE327 Solar

Seiko SNE327 Solar
Seiko SNE327 Solar

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Another Japanese brand that is constantly producing high-quality, high-performance watches is Seiko. The Japanese brand was founded 139 years ago by Kintaro Hattori and also offers a good alternative to the Explorer. The Seiko SNE327 fulfills all requirements regarding appearance, quality and performance.

The SNE327 houses the Japanese quartz movement under the black dial. The large indexes, which are similar to those of the Explorer, remain well protected under the Hardlex mineral crystal. In addition, you can display both day and date at 3 a.m. at the affordable price level. The 43 mm stainless steel watch is water resistant to 100 m.

Armida A6

Armida A6
Armida A6

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If you want to save a lot of money but still want to keep an eye on the look of the Explorer, you should consider the Armida A6. The Hong Kong-based brand Armida made a name for itself with diving watches. However, they offer an alternative to the Rolex Explorer in the form of an A6. The A6 is slightly smaller in design and appearance at 36mm from any angle.

The A6 is powered by the Japanese Miyota 9039 movement under a double domed sapphire crystal and has a one year warranty. In addition, the indexes and hands have a remarkable resemblance to the discoverer and glow. In addition, the Armida A6 is waterproof up to 300 m.

Alpha Explorer

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Alpha Explorer is at the top of the list. The Alpha brand, founded in 1993, produces affordable watches. This affordable watch has an incredibly similar look and design to the Rolex Explorer. For example, this watch recreates the oyster-style bracelet, black dial, unique hour markers, and even Rolex hands.

Aside from the obvious design inspiration, the watch is water resistant to 5 ATM and comes with a one year warranty. In addition, the Alpha Explorer has an automatic movement in a 38.5 mm 316L stainless steel case with hardened, scratch-resistant glass. A great alternative for a fraction of the price.

Smiths Everest PRS 25

Smiths Everest PRS 25
Smiths Everest PRS 25

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Smith’s watch brand made history with Rolex after the first summit of Mount Everest in 1953. However, unlike Rolex, the brand has now faded. Sir Edmund Hillary wore a Smith during his legendary rise to the top of the world. Currently owned by Timefactors, after several owners, the Smith’s Everest PRS 25 is a worthy explorer alternative.

Except for the family tree on the side, the watch has an almost identical design. The black dial, markings treated with SuperLuminova and Rolex-like hands make it almost indistinguishable from a Rolex. The watch also houses the Miyota 9015 movement in a 40 mm 316L stainless steel case and is water-resistant to 100 m.

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