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Best Affordable Alternatives: Rolex Explorer

When the Rolex Explorer debuted in 1953, it came with an impressive pedigree, and proof that it had earned the name Explorer honestly—an earlier prototype had been worn by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay when he ascended Mount Everest.

Unfortunately, owning one of those iconic timepieces today can be an expensive proposition. Luckily, there are affordable alternatives, watches that keep the spirit of the Explorer very much alive.

Tudor Ranger

tudor ranger

Like the Explorer, the Tudor Ranger was born in exploration—it celebrates the great British North Greenland Expedition. And like the Explorer, the Ranger is a tough, robust tool watch, built with the Manufacture Calibre MT5402 for unsurpassed reliability, precision, and rugged dependability. This Ranger model features a 39mm case crafted in satin-finished steel, with a stainless steel bracelet and a clasp with rapid adjustment system. The rich black dial has luminescent hands and hour markers. Additional features include 70 hour power reserve and water resistance to 100 meters.

Seiko Prospex SJE085 Alpinist 1959 Design Re-Creation


The Rolex Explorer wasn’t just a first-rate tool watch—it had style to spare. This Alpinist, too, is a tool watch, originally created with mountain climbers and sports enthusiasts in mind, but it has a singularly impressive design aesthetic. The limited edition of just 1,959 pieces has a 36.6mm stainless steel case with screwed case back and anti-reflective box sapphire crystal. The black dial features a date indicator and striking, geometric Lumibrite hands and hour markers, and it’s finished with a handsome brown calfskin leather cuff strap.

Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph 0 Oxygen the 8000


The Explorer has earned its place in watchmaking history, but this Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph 0 Oxygen the 8000 has stamina all its own. The name itself tells the tale. The 41mm stainless steel case is completely devoid of oxygen, eliminating both fogging and oxidation for superior precision over a longer lifespan. The case features a black ceramic bidirectional rotating bezel and a case back engraved with Spirit of Exploration. The dark grey dial is highlighted with a Sfumato glacier pattern and includes chronograph counters and luminous hands and hour markers. The tapered stainless steel bracelet has a fine adjustment system.

Longines Sport Conquest 2023


The Rolex Explorer was created to reach unimaginable heights of human exploration. Likewise, the Longines Sport collection was created to reach unimaginable heights of human sporting achievement, from skiing and horse racing to diving. The high-performance watches incorporate technical expertise and design perfection. This Sport Conquest 2023 model has a 41mm stainless steel case with screw-down case back, screw-in crown, and transparent case back with an anti-reflective scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. A stunning sunray green dial with Super-LumiNova coated hands and hour markers and stainless steel bracelet complete the look.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX


IWC crafted their first pilot’s watch in the mid-1930s, decades before the Rolex Explorer achieved notoriety. To this day, the timepieces of the IWC Pilot’s Watch collection pay homage to the cockpit-inspired look and cutting edge technical wizardry of the original. This Pilot’s Watch Mark XX has a 40mm stainless steel case with engraved case back, screw-in crown, and anti-reflective convex sapphire glass. The boldly styled, easy-to-read dial features Super-LumiNova coated hands and hour markers, Arabic numeral markers, and date indicator. The black calfskin strap has a pin buckle closure.

Discover these and other luxury watches from Feldmar. Browse our online store or stop into our flagship location.

About The Author: Tom Roth


Born in Washington state, Tom developed an interest in photography during college at University of San Diego. There, he got started in music journalism, interviewing artists and taking photos at concerts. A life-long tinkerer and collector, it wasn’t long before Tom became fascinated with fountain pens and watches.

Those interests collided in November 2020 when Tom started at Feldmar Watch Company where he lives out every watch geek’s dream: photographing and writing about timepieces. When he’s not tinkering with his watch collection, Tom can be found traveling, biting his nails while watching PNW sports teams, and taking flying lessons.

Read more from Tom Roth

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