Cover Rolex Explorer I (Photo: Courtesy of Rolex)

The perfect travel watch isn’t a “traveller’s watch”—it’s an Explorer

When I first got my Rolex—my first and still my only Rolex—a serious watch collector asked me: “Why’d you get that model? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great watch. But most Rollie virgins go for a Submariner or a GMT. I’m curious why you chose the Explorer I?” My answer: Because in my opinion, the Explorer I is the perfect allrounder, which also makes it the ideal travel watch.

The experienced traveller packs as lightly as possible, often able to whittle their needs back to what will fit in an onboard bag. I think your aim should be the same when it comes to your watch—you should try to travel with just one timepiece that will work with a variety of looks, in a variety of settings.

See also: The Best Watches From Bvlgari, Hublot, TAG Heuer & Zenith At LVMH Watch Week Dubai 2020

Many would suggest that the watch in question should have a dual- or multi-time zone functionality, allowing you to stay in touch with your home time when you’re in another part of the world. But in this wired day and age, is that really necessary, when you can simply ask Siri for the hour in London, Rio or Sydney? No.

Same goes for day and date displays. (Meanwhile, if you don’t know what month or year it is, picking a watch is the least of your problems.)

The issue is, day/date, a GMT hand and numeric bezel, or fiddly text listing 24 of the world’s major cities will add unnecessary visual details to a watch. 

Keep it Simple

What you want while travelling is something sleek and minimal, something that won’t look out of place with a tuxedo or a sharp suit, but will serve just as well with shorts and a T-shirt. For me, that watch is the Rolex Explorer I, which also works with your swimming trunks, as its 100m water-resistance is plenty for the pool or snorkeling purposes. 

The watch’s roots are in travel, of course—travel of the most extreme sort. The Explorer I is the descendant of the watch Tenzing Norgay wore when he and Sir Edmund Hillary were the first to summit Everest. I’ll never take mine to such death-defying heights, but touch wood, I will wear it ’til the day I die, when it will pass down to one of my girls.

My Explorer won’t look out of place on my daughter’s wrist, as it’s the traditional 36mm case size produced from the early 1950s right up until the model was inflated to 39mm a decade ago. It’s a small, three-hand watch that does nothing but tell the time. And yet, it does everything you need—and will take you anywhere. Exceptional.

See also: 5 Watches For 5 Different Travel Plans

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