Rolex Explorer

SKU AS02106
SKU AS02106

Why We Love it

“It was 11:30 and we were on top of Everest.”

The day was May 29, 1953, and Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay stood on top of the world.

The expedition that Hillary and Norgay took part in was the ninth to make the attempt. They were just two in a team of 400 people, including over three hundred porters and twenty Sherpa guides to insure that they made their way safely up the treacherous slopes. Once the party had reached 23,000 feet, the group’s leader—Colonel John Hunt—selected two pairs of climbers to make the last push toward the summit.

The first pair, Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, came within 300 feet of the top, but had to turn back, exhausted, their oxygen depleted. Up next were Edmund Hillary and his climbing partner, Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. They set out on May 27, after waking to find that their boots had frozen solid in the punishing cold.

Their climb was slow going, up an ice slope that—until then—man had never before touched.

Hillary wrote: “I continued on, cutting steadily and surmounting bump after bump and cornice after cornice looking eagerly for the summit. It seemed impossible to pick it and time was running out. Finally I cut around the back of an extra large lump and then on a tight rope from Tenzing I climbed up a gentle snow ridge to its top. Immediately it was obvious that we had reached our objective.”

They spent fifteen minutes at the summit, taking photographs and burying offerings in the snow: chocolate for Norgay’s Sherpa ancestors, a cross for Hillary. Then they turned and made their laborious way back down to Base Camp. Upon reaching camp, Hillary told his friend, George Lowe, “Well, George, we knocked the bastard off.”

Rolex had been a sponsor of British Everest Expeditions since the 1930s, and several members of the successful 1953 Expedition wore Rolex Oyster Precisions. One of them, Tom Bourdillon, wore a watch with a black dial and prominent luminous (Radium) Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9. Later in 1953, Rolex would rechristen it the Explorer after Hillary and Norgay’s achievement.

The watch that Bourdillon wore was most likely a Reference 6150, the watch we offer here.

Released in the early 1950s, it was the first proto-Explorer to feature Mercedes hands. Rolex went on to produce the Explorer for five decades (and counting, since it’s still in production), but as is the case with most Rolex sports models, earlier versions like the Reference 6150 tend to be the best-looking. The triumph of the 1953 expedition and spirit of adventure and exploration that the Explorer represents can be felt when this watch is strapped to your wrist.

With gorgeous (Radium!) lume and a heavy patina to the dial (not to mention an amazing case-back inscription), it’s a memento of man’s ability to conquer the world through hard work, grit and determination—plus, timeless style and panache.

A:S Guarantee


Our Pledge

Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.


Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.


We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.

International Buyers

Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

Shipping & Returns


All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.

Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.

We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.

Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.

We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

Rolex Explorer

Rolex Explorer

Rolex Explorer


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