Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rolex Explorer date ref 5701 (without date)

In the early days of the Explorer, Rolex was unsure of the model's potential. As a result the name was affixed to a number of models not immediately recognizable as the "Explorers". Today the name and the look are so intimately entwined it seems out of place to apply the name to watches which were so obviously not what we would call 'Explorers'. There were two distinct variations on the theme and they seem to have been aimed at two distinct markets. The first variation was the so-called 'Air-King' Explorer . The second variation on the theme are 'dress Explorers.' 

These were standard Oyster Perpetuals in steel or gold with white (or more rarely, black) non- Explorer dials featuring markers and hands, but signed 'Explorer' on the dials. Seen in both date and non-date forms, these watches all seem to have been sold in the North American market. The Explorer Date bears a model number 5700, previously unseen on any other Explorer (the non -date model is a model 5501 and 5504, which interestingly is more often seen on Explorers with the standard dial). It seems that these watches were made in the 1950's or 1960's, when Rolex was unsure of the Explorer's success, and attempted to increase the popularity of the watch by broadening the line. When the real mainstream Explorer began to sell, these 'piggyback' models were withdrawn. As a result of its limited production, these models are extremely rare and are presently sought after by collectors.

Over the years, I have collected Rolex Explorer I in gilt dial ref 6610, 1016, 5500, Explorer II ref 1655, cream dial16550 and recently the Dress watch Explorers without dates 5501 white and black gilt dial. I have been actively searching for a Rolex 5701, an Explorer with date. 

After several months of searching, I have finally found a rare version of the ROLEX EXPLORER with date model 5701, which was only produced for the Commonwealth market in original condition. Waiting for it to arrive..

There is one or two more Explorer to hunt and the 5504 is on my lists.


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