Today I will talk to you about how to choose Explorer 1 and Kongba. This is a topic that new Rolex players are very keen to talk about. Because from the perspective of product positioning, both watches are the “goalkeepers” of Rolex professional watches, and their appearance, design, and performance are also similar. Regarding the comparison between Explorer 1 and Airmaster, I have analyzed it before, but this year’s situation is different. The 2023 Explorer 1 uses a 40mm watch diameter for the first time. It has returned to the mainstream size, and the watch diameter no longer restricts the choice.
On the other hand, the new Airmaster has also added a sporty crown shoulder guard, which is in line with high-end professional models such as the Submariner; the most important thing is to upgrade the Cal.3131 movement that has been used for many years to the latest generation Cal.3230, to make up for performance shortcomings. After various upgrades and changes, both products have new advantages. Let’s look at the respective performances of Explorer 1 and Kongba today in 2023.
Explorer 1 VS Airmaster
Rolex watches are divided into “classic” and “professional.” The so-called classics are products biased towards traditional watchmaking aesthetics, represented by series such as the journal type, the week-date type, and the 1908 type, and follow the elegant “formal watch” route. The corresponding professional watches are made for professional wearing scenarios such as flying, diving, and mountaineering and can also be understood as “sports watches.” In the past, we mentioned Rolex professional watches. Explorer 1, Airmaster, and Green Glass are the first choice for many new players to experience Rolex due to their relatively reasonable prices, and they are also called “three treasures for entry.”
Green glass Ref.116400GV
However, with the discontinuation of green glass, there are only two entry-level products of Rolex professional watches, Explorer 1 and Airmaster, and the choice space is further reduced. Some players may also participate compared to the Oyster Perpetual, which only has essential functions. In fact, according to the brand division, the Oyster Perpetual belongs to the “classic” camp, not a professional watch category.
Exploring One Ref.6150
The difference between Explorer 1 and Airmaster is the different usage scenarios: Explorer 1 is a mountaineering sports watch born for outdoor adventures. The history of the explorer watch can be traced back to Ref.6150 in 1953. This work is characterized by using a 36 mm diameter and integrating Arabic numerals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. Its launch laid the foundation for the series—design tone. From Ref. 6150 in 1953 to Ref. 114270, which was discontinued in 2010, the diameter of these watches is 36 mm, and their influence lasted for more than half a century. Noob Rolex replica.
Explorer 1 Ref.124270 (36mm) and Ref.214270 (39mm)
Under the popular trend of large watch diameters in recent years, Explorer 1 Ref.214270, which debuted in 2011, broke the tradition and increased the watch diameter to 39 mm for the first time. However, players have different opinions. The reason is that the 39mm Probe is not “equally scaled,” the distance between the pointer and the time scale has also undergone subtle changes, so players familiar with the classic 36mm layout must adapt. For this reason, the 2021 Explorer 1 Ref.124270 chose to return to 36 mm and added the inter-gold model Ref.124273 for the first time.
Explorer 1 Ref.224270 (40mm)
The return of the 2021 Explorer 1 to 36mm has also aroused discussion. Many players think 36mm is a classic, but it is only made for “a few people,” and its universality is not high. For this reason, the latest Ref. 224270 in 2023 has adjusted the diameter to 40mm again. It should be noted that this new product has a non-new and old iterative relationship with the previously unveiled 36mm model. They are currently available models, which are fundamentally different from the practice of removing the 39mm model (Ref.214270) in 2022. Swiss replica website.
Explorer 1 Ref.224270 (40mm)
As the most commonly used watch diameter of Rolex professional watches, the 40mm Probe aligns more with modern aesthetics and usage habits. It has achieved the same level as the Airmaster in size. However, for players who value “feelings,” the brand still retains the 36mm models that align with historical works for selection, and the addition of inter-gold models also meets the needs of some players for “luxury sports” watches. It can be said that no matter whether you prefer “large diameter,” “small diameter,” or “precious metal,” there are corresponding products for the current model Explorer 1.
Airmaster Ref.4925 and Ref.6652
Let’s take a look at the situation of Kongba again. Rolex Air-King is positioned as a flight watch, and its product history is more extended than Explorer 1’s. The early Airmaster belonged to the Oyster Perpetual series. The Ref.4925, released in 1945, was considered the first Airmaster, and the words “OYSTER AIR-KING” were marked on its dial. The well-known italic “Air-King” logo appeared in the Ref.6652 watch 1953. This classic logo has been inherited in one continuous line and can still be seen in the new Ref. 126900 today.
Cal.3230 Self-winding movement
As a flight watch, antimagnetic is an important performance, which helps the clock to maintain accurate operation in magnetic solid environments such as control rooms. To achieve antimagnetic, the previous generation Airmaster Ref.116900 is equipped with Cal.3131 movement, the same as the “green glass.” The characteristic of this movement is that it is the first to use Parachrom hairspring, which is made of niobium, zirconium, and oxygen alloy. The advantage is that it is not affected by temperature, can eliminate magnetic field interference, and has higher shock resistance than traditional hairsprings. With the Cal.3130 movement produced in the later period and the new generation of 32-series movements, Parachrom hairsprings are entirely popularized, and the Cal.3131 movement is no longer necessary as an independent model. Therefore, the new Airmaster has the same Cal.3230 movement as Explorer 1, and its antimagnetic performance is still excellent.
Airmaster Ref.116900 (left) and Ref.126900 (right)
The crown shoulder guard is the most significant improvement in the appearance of the new Airmaster. In the past, Rolex only used this design in professional watches with outer rings, such as Submariner, Yacht-Master, and Daytona. The new Airmaster is Rolex’s first “aperture” with shoulder pads, which also shows that the brand intends to enhance the professional attributes of the Airmaster and align it with high-end models.
Airmaster Ref.116900 (left) and Ref.126900 (right)
At the same time, the new Airbus also slightly adjusted the time scale. The cousin joked that there was a “breakthrough” that was to change the number “5” on the dial to “05”, which echoed the “55” on the left, making the dial more symmetrical. The new Airmaster covers the Chromalight bright material above the hour markers, which enhances the overall glowing effect. In addition, the folding safety buckle has been upgraded, which can effectively prevent accidental opening, which is also an upgrade to enhance professionalism.
At the beginning of 2023, Rolex products’ price was raised once. The current price of the 40mm Probe is 59,800 yuan, and the Airmaster is 58,200 yuan. Despite the secondary market situation, there is little difference regarding public costs. The 36mm Probe is priced at 56,500 yuan, making it the most straightforward choice among Rolex’s professional watches.
Comparison of dial details
Finally, talk about buying suggestions and personal opinions. If I asked which product was more worth buying last year, I recommend the 36mm probe. Although the size of this work is not dominant, with the concept of “buy new, not old,” it is equipped with a Cal.3230 movement, and its performance is crushing on the old Airmaster. Putting this question in 2023 today, my point of view has changed a bit. With the upgrade of the core of the new Airmaster, there are no apparent shortcomings in performance now; the addition of shoulder guards and folding safety buckles make the characteristics of the new Airmaster in line with high-end models, and the recognition is more prominent.
Band Length: 20.5cm
Case Size: 39mm