Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Complete History of the Rolex Explorer II

The Complete History of the Rolex Explorer II

The history of the Rolex Explorer is absolutely fascinating. This story is a work in progress and far from being complete. As time goes by, I will continue to update this story until it is complete. Since Rolex just introduced a brand new Rolex Explorer II 'Orange Hand' model at Watches & Wonders 2021 in Switzerland, along with two new Rolex Explorer models as seen below.

I have been working on this story for a while but when Rolex updated the Explorer II (as seen below) recently as seen below it inspired me to work on this story.

All-New 2021 Rolex Explorer II 'Orange Hand' with Black Dial

It is said God took a rib from Adam and made Eve. The same is true with the development of the Rolex Explorer II—Rolex took the DNA from one of their most icon Oyster Perpetual models and took it to the next-level.

1980 Rolex Explorer Brochure

...Rolex Super Coolness...

Reinhold Messner

Conquering Mount Everest and K2

1979 Rolex Explorer Mark II

Thus, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at a man who famously rocked an original Rolex 'Orange Hand' back in the day.  Today we are going to look at the men who best represent the spirit of the original orange hand Rolex Explorer II, and his name is Reinhold Messner.

Reinhold Messner is a legend in the Rolex world of adventure. In this photo he is seen climbing a mountain in Italy back in 1979, sporting his orange hand 36mm Rolex Explorer Mark II [Reference 1655].

The Telegraph in the UK published a fascinating story in 2018 named "20 reasons why Reinhold Messner is the world's greatest living man", which is fascinating. 

Messner was also the first climber to conquer Mount Everest without oxygen. If you think about it, that is a truly amazing feat because there is less than 1/3 of the amount of oxygen on top of Mount Everest than you are breathing right now. 

Extreme Mountain climbing may seem like it is glamorous, but the truth is that it is anything but. It is an extremely dangerous sport and it is common for climbers to loose fingers and toes to frostbite. In this photo we see Reinhold Messner with the tips of his feet missing from frostbite. 

Reinhold Messner & Peter Habeler

Conquering Mount Everest in 1978

First Climb Without Oxygen

In this next photo from 1978 we see Reinhold Messner with his climbing partner Peter Habeler. This was the first Mount Everest expedition that climbed to the summit without oxygen. This climb was documented in the movie Everest Unmasked.

In the photo above Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler are wearing their Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust watches [Reference 17000]. Peter Habeler is pictured below wearing his Rolex OysterQuartz Datejust.

Reinhold Messner is pictured below wearing his Rolex OysterQuartz

Below is a recent photo of Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner

1978 Rolex Oysterquartz Ad
Sir Edmund Hillary and Reinhold Messner
Two Rolex Mountain-Climbing Legends Together

Sir Edmund Hillary from New Zealand and Reinhold Messner from Italy are two of the greatest mountain-climbers that have ever lived. Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to conquer Mt. Everest in 1953 and he was wearing his Rolex Oyster wristwatch.

Reinhold Messner was the first man to summit Everest without oxygen. He achieved this amazing feat in 1978, and when he came down the mountain, Sir Edmund Hillary was waiting to congratulate him and this photo was taken. Reinhold Messner was wearing his Rolex Oysterquartz when in 1978 when he first conquered Everest.

You have got to click on this image to see all the detail and read the story:

Update: Kristian Holm from Denmark, who is a reader of Jake's Rolex World, pointed out the following in this next photo:

"It appears Sir Edmund Hillary is wearing a Rolex Oysterquartz 17013. I think it is a bit funny that both Hillary and Reinhold Messner, two of the world's best climbers, trust the Oyterquartz."

I agree, Kristian, and thank you for pointing that out. Indeed, Sir Edmund Hillary did wear a Rolex Oysterquartz for many years in his later life. Today Rolex no longer makes quartz watches, meaning watches that run on a battery. Maybe there is something to the quartz watches after all!?! 

Pictured below is another Rolex ad featuring Reinhold Messner. 

The Documentary

In 2012 a full-length documentary came out on Reinhold Messner that was simply titled "MESSNER". You can see the movie poster below.

In the 2016 we see Reinhold Messner wearing a 42mm Rolex Explorer II with the polar-white dial with retro orange hand.

In this next photo we see a photo from 2017 of Peter Habeler rocking his vintage Submariner Reference 1680.

I'm not 100% certain, but in the photo below from 1978 we see Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler when they conquered Everest and I think Peter is wearing the same Submariner as seen above. This photo was discovered by Jose from Perezcope.com.

Jean-François PERNETTE

1998 Rolex Laureate Winner

Rolex Awards for Enterprise

4 Decades Of Exploration
Relying On His Orange Hand Rolex Explorer II

One of my favorite things to do on Jake's Rolex World is bring to life many characters who have appeared in vintage Rolex ads, by delving deeper into their history to learn what has made them tick. Today, I am excited to do just that, by taking a closer look at the amazing career achievements of Jean-François Pernette. 

Jean-François Pernette is one of the worlds leading cave explorers, and he is pictured below in Pierre Saint Martin, four decades ago, in 1981, while on a cave exploration expedition, and he is wearing his trademark Rolex Explorer II "Orange Hand."

Jean-François Pernette pictured above in 1981 wearing his Orange Hand Rolex Explorer II

Jean-François Pernette is considered to be one of the worlds leading speleologists. He was born in 1954 in France, and he is pictured below, exploring in Papua New-Guinea in 1980, and notice he is wearing his trademark Orange-Hand Rolex Explorer II. Jean-François Pernette went on to become the 1998 Rolex Laureate Winner of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. 

1979 French Rolex Explorer II
The Original Orange Hand
Reference 1655

The 1979 Vintage Rolex Jean-François Pernette magazine ad was published in France.

Journey To The End Of The World

The following Rolex Awards For Enterprise Documentary video is about Jean-François Pernette and it is Titled, Journey To The End Of The World.

An Amazing Career

The next two photos below, show Jean-François Pernette in Papua New-Guinea in 1980, communicating with natives, who have had limited contact with the outside world.

In the next two photos we see Jean-François Pernette exploring a cave in Col de la Pierre Saint-Martin, which is part of a mountain pass on the border of Spain and France, located in the western Pyrenees mountain range.

The above photo was taken in 1981, and the photo below were taken in 1982 in  Pierre Saint-Martin. Notice Jean-François Pernette is wearing his trademark Orange Hand Rolex Explorer II in most of these photos taken over the last 4 decades. The Orange hand serves two purposes. First to keep the cave-dweller aware of wether it is AM or PM, and secondly, to able to keep track of time in a second timezone.

In the photo below, we we see Jean-François Pernette sporting a Rolex Datejust.

Rolex Awards Geneva 1998

This next photo was taken in 1998, upon the occasion of Jean-François Pernette winning the 1998 Rolex Award For Enterprise, and we see him being awarded with a yellow gold Rolex Day-Date.

In the next photo below, we see Jean-François Pernette hiking in the mountains of Nepal in 2012. Notice he is still sporting his Orange Hand Rolex Explorer II, which has served him well since 1979 without any challenges, throughout all his expeditions, the latest of which were Patagonia in 2010 and Nepal in 2012.

Jean-François Pernette pictured above in 2012 wearing his Orange Hand Rolex Explorer II

This last photo of Jean-François Pernette was taken this year (2013) while cave exploring in France. Jean-François Pernette has lived an extraordinary life, filled with amazing achievement, all while keeping time with his loyal companion and timekeeper, which is an original, vintage Orange Hand Rolex Explorer II. You can learn much more about the Jean-François Pernette by visiting his Rolex Awards For Enterprise microsite.