6 minutes

Five Watches With Explorer Dials That Aren’t a Rolex

By Sebastian Swart

The Explorer is undoubtably Rolex’s simplest, cleanest-looking sports watch. The history of this model dates back to 1953, when mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary is said to have worn a predecessor model of this watch while climbing to the peak of Mount Everest. The black dial of the Rolex Explorer is characterized by its Arabic numeral hour markers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, and an inverted triangle at 12. Simple baton indices round off the rest of the dial, and the watch does not feature a date complication. This dial layout was however not exclusive to the Explorer; Rolex also used it on early versions of the Submariner as well.

This simple, attractive dial layout is very popular among watch fans. But not everyone wants a Rolex on their wrist. No worries, because there are a number of great Explorer alternatives that use this configuration or a variation of it. We’re showing you five of these watches today in different price categories.

The Ranger: Tudor’s Expedition Watch

The Ranger is a timepiece from the Rolex sibling brand Tudor. Like its horological role model, the Ranger has its own heritage. A great tool watch designed for adventure, Tudor presented the Ranger in 2022 to mark the 70th anniversary of the British North Greenland expedition. This watch was inspired by the Oyster Prince models that adorned the wrists of the scientists on this expedition.

Tudor Ranger Ref. M79950-0001 – preiswerte Alternative zur Rolex Explorer.
The Tudor Ranger ref. M79950-0001 – an affordable alternative to the Rolex Explorer

The dial on the Tudor Ranger is very similar to that of the Rolex Explorer, with the typical Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Instead of an inverted triangle, however, there is a 12 at the top of the dial. The Tudor’s 39-mm case, lug-to-lug of just under 48 mm, case thickness of 12 mm, and 20-mm lug width make this tool watch a great unisex choice that’s going to look great on just about any wrist. Plus, its sapphire crystal and 100 meters (10 bar, 328 feet) of water resistance make it perfect for everyday wear.

The Ranger houses the automatic, in-house chronometer-certified MT5402 caliber featuring a 70-hour power reserve. It can be yours for a little over $3,000 on a metal bracelet, or a leather or fabric strap.

Omega Railmaster: Anti-magnetic Since 1957

Like the Rolex Explorer, the Omega Railmaster is a legendary wristwatch with a one-of-a-kind design. In the Omega catalog since 1957, it was originally developed for track workers. One feature of all Railmaster models is their anti-magnetism: Their Master Chronometer technology allows them to withstand magnetic fields of up to 15,000 gauss. Omega achieves this by using highly effective materials such as titanium and silicon in their calibers.

Seit 1957 im unverwechselbaren Design – die Omega Railmaster.
One-of-a-kind design since 1957: The Omega Railmaster

Although Omega has continually updated the Railmaster over the years, the stylish Explorer-style dial has remained. It has twelve trapezoidal hour markers, with the Arabic 3, 6, 9, and 12 numerals at their respective hour positions. Unlike Rolex, Omega offers a wider selection of dial colors, with the Railmaster available in classic black with vintage Super-LumiNova, as well as in silver or blue dials.

The current Railmaster model comes in a stainless steel 40-mm case with a lug-to-lug length of 47 mm, a case thickness of 12.7 mm, and a lug width of 20 mm, making it a great choice for most wrists. It has a water resistance of 150 meters (15 bar, 492 feet), an impressive amount for this kind of watch. Its automatic Omega Co-Axial Master Chronometer Caliber 8806 beats away inside the case, delivering 55 hours of power reserve.

The Railmaster is also relatively affordable. The reference on the stainless steel bracelet can be yours for around $4,400.

Nivada Grenchen Super Antarctic 3.6.9

Nivada Grenchen – also known by the name Croton – is a traditional Swiss watch brand whose roots date all the way back to 1926. In 2022, the watchmaker unveiled a fresh interpretation of its Antarctic. Known by its full name, Super Antarctic 3.6.9, it is part of the Antarctic collection Nivada Grenchen first presented back in the 1950s. Members of the American Navy wore Nivada Antarctic watches during the Deep Freeze I expedition to the South Pole in the mid-1950s.

Of all the watches we’re looking at today, the dial on the Super Antarctic 3.6.9 is the most similar to the Explorer. The specifications of this stainless steel watch are on the more conservative side, making it perfect even for smaller wrists. The Super Antarctic 3.6.9 has a case width of only 38 mm, a lug-to-lug measurement of 45 mm, a lug width of 20 mm, and a 12-mm case thickness. This watch is a great all-rounder for everyday wear.

Nivada Super Antarctic 3.6.9 – hier mit künstlich gealterter Superluminova.
Nivada Super Antarctic 3.6.9 – Featuring an added aging effect to its Super-LumiNova

The P024 automatic caliber inside this watch is made by the Swiss movement manufacturer Soprod, and delivers a power reserve of 38 hours. Sapphire crystal covers the dial. Its screw-down crown and case back give the Super Antarctic 100 meters (10 bar, 328 feet) of water resistance.

The Nivada Super Antarctic is available in brown and black dials. You can also select between white Super-LumiNova, or Super-LumiNova that’s been given an added aging effect. Although the latter is sometimes panned as faux or “fake” patina, this really just comes down to personal taste. Depending on the armband you choose (and the selection is extensive), expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 to $1,250.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris: Upscale, Sporty Elegance

The Polaris collection introduced in 2018 is one of the newer ones in JLC’s catalog. The watchmaker presented the Memovox Polaris model in 1968, which today’s versions generously draw their design cues from. With the Polaris, Jaeger-LeCoultre delivers a watch featuring function and design that fill the space between their Master Control and Master Compressor Diving timepieces.

The simplest Polaris model has a black dial and no date, and the reference number Q9008170. Although simple in its layout, this watch delivers anything but a mere “tooly” look. The Polaris’ sunburst dial has a deep, sublime appearance, while also featuring the typical Explorer dial: luminous trapezoidal indices with Arabic numerals at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o’clock. Unlike any of the other watches we’re looking at today, the Polaris has an inner rotating diving bezel that’s operated using the watch’s additional crown.

Explorer Dial für den gehobenen Anspruch – Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Q9008170.
An Explorer dial for more refined tastes – Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Q9008170

The Polaris has a case width of 41 mm, making it more of an option for men. Its 11.2-mm thickness lets it sit perfectly on the wrist, and 100 meters (10 bar, 328 feet) of water resistance make swimming with it no problem at all.

The Polaris is powered by the Jaeger-LeCoultre in-house caliber 898. This automatic movement offers 40 hours of power reserve. The sapphire crystal covering the case back of the Polaris adds to its luxurious look and feel, allowing you a glimpse at the finely-decorated movement. A Polaris Q9008170 in new condition can be yours for around $9,800.

Longines Conquest: Affordable Luxury, Thanks to Quartz Caliber

Yes, we’ve got a quartz timepiece on our list of Explorer dials, with the Longines Conquest. After all, a great watch, doesn’t always have to be mechanical. Although Longines first presented the Conquest in 1954 as part of their dress watch collection, these days it’s a sporty-elegant timepiece for both men and ladies that can be worn on all kinds of occasions.

Let’s take a look at two references, the L3.759.4.58.6 and L3.377.4.58.6. The first is a stainless steel timepiece with a 41-mm diameter, and will suit the wrists of most men, while the latter’s 34-mm size will be a great choice for smaller wrists. These two Conquests are the only watches on our list featuring a date window at 3 o’clock. This is why you won’t find an Arabic numeral here, nor a 6 on the dial directly across from this position. But don’t worry, these watches still have an Explorer vibe to them with their Arabic numerals at 6 and 12, baton indices for every other hour marker, and a simple, clean design.

The 41-mm Conquest is 11.8 mm thick, with a 21-mm lug width, while the 34-mm model is 9 mm thick with a 17-mm lug width. Both have 300 meters (30 bar, 984 feet) of water resistance, making them suitable for your next dive. Like these specs? You’ll love the price, too, because these two Longines Conquest models can be yours for around $800.

Preiswerte Markenuhr mit Explorer Dial – Longines Conquest L3.377.4.58.6.
Affordable luxury watch with an Explorer dial – Longines Conquest L3.377.4.58.6

That will wrap things up for our selection of Explorer dial watches. What’s your favorite watch with an Explorer dial? There are all kinds of great choices out there for anyone who wants this simple, clean, timeless design on their wrists, so enjoy finding the perfect Explorer design that suits your taste.

About the Author

Sebastian Swart

I've been using Chrono24 for years to buy and sell watches, as well as for research purposes. I've had an infatuation with watches for as long as I can remember. As a …

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