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Rolex Explorer vs. Zenith El Priemero

  • Explorer

    Votes: 19 36.5%
  • El Primero

    Votes: 33 63.5%
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This photo illustrates that the El Primero is a dated movement, designed for when watches were smaller on average. While the tri-color dials on the vintage version overlap, they did not obscure the markers, unlike on the modern, larger variant.

 

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Depends If your first or only watch - Explorer is more versatile and makes sense.
However if you already have similar watches\versatile on bracelet, then without a 2nd thought - El Primero.

I absolutely love that watch - between unique and cool look, great comfort (38mm), beautiful sunburst of silver dial with rich colors of subdials, best strap I've encountered at any price point, and just pure enjoyment and fun of it - it was an easy choice for me. Strapped it to the wrist and knew I had to have it.

Some disclaimers, lest I be called biased:
- El Primero does not hack
- Zenith does not have the recognition of Rolex - nobody will recognize it outside WIS circles
- Movement is essentially 47 years old and has a horizontal clutch
- while it has 100M WR, I would not use it in the water - leather is too nice. Heck the whole watch is too nice for sports.

But even with all that in mind, I'd pick it over any Rolex if given a choice to do so again. I'm kind of quirky that way though

IMG_4838.JPG IMG_4055.JPG IMG_3321.JPG IMG_4494.JPG IMG_3536.JPG IMG_1478.JPG
 

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I should add that neither of these choices are contrarian choices by any stretch of the imagination (neither was the JLC MUT Moon, for that matter). The Zenith Tri-color is the closest thing Zenith has to an iconic design aesthetic as opposed to an iconic movement. The only watch which has a Zenith affiliation that is more iconic are the vintage Rolex Daytonas.
 

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This photo illustrates that the El Primero is a dated movement, designed for when watches were smaller on average. While the tri-color dials on the vintage version overlap, they did not obscure the markers, unlike on the modern, larger variant.
WHile El Primero movement is certainly approaching "outdated" status, I think the overlaps are a result of design decisions rather than inherently small movement.
El Primero cal 400 - 30mm diameter, 6.6mm tall, 50 hr PR
Rolex cal 3132 - 28.5mm diameter, 48 hrs PR

Rolex Explorer is 39mm case, and I think putting a 42mm ElPrimero next to original A386 is disingenuous, especially since 38mm El Primero exists and is what OP referenced.

As far as the overlap of subdials - criticism is valid, but I think it is a criticism of a design decision rather than movement limitations.
I tried on new El Primero Classic Cars recently and subdial layout was similar to that of A386.
DSC06733.JPG

And there are plenty of EL Primero models with no subdial overlap, where simple design change (2 counters instead of 3, or smaller subdials) address any overlap concerns. Valid criticisms of the movement exist, but I do not think the size is the issue
zen1.jpg zen2.jpg zen3.jpg
 

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I'd take the Explorer. It's a rock solid versatile wear anywhere watch with a timeless design and history/lore in spades. As a first watch or an only watch, the Explorer is arguably as good as it gets. If you already have a nice collection, the Zenith would be worth considering.
 

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I'd be getting the Zenith. A lot more character. If only the explorer was 36mm..
 

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What size is your wrist btw Enderw?
I have tiny wrists (which says nothing about any other body parts :)). 6.25"-6.5" depending on temperature. Which precludes me from wearing a whole lot of watches :(
Like I said - I'm a bit biased re: 38mm 1969 El Primero re-issue. The fit was great and the excitement from wearing it was palpable. Individual experience may vary
 

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I love the Rolex Explorer (I own the pre-2016 Baselworld-announced version). It is my favourite Watch in my collection. I love Zenith as a brand, and a number of their Watches. Since a Chronograph watch is what you would like to round out your collection, I would lean towards the El Primero, but if your heart is set on the Explorer, go the Explorer.
 

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Upon reading the title, I felt compelled to log in and vote for el primero. It is such a well make, well finish and robust watch. The size of 1969 is just perfect.
I feared the crown will win this poll lopsided because it is Rolex. Well, I am surprised and glad to see el primero leading 70:30 when I type this.
Zenith el primero 1969 deserve loves.
 

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WHile El Primero movement is certainly approaching "outdated" status, I think the overlaps are a result of design decisions rather than inherently small movement.
El Primero cal 400 - 30mm diameter, 6.6mm tall, 50 hr PR
Rolex cal 3132 - 28.5mm diameter, 48 hrs PR

Rolex Explorer is 39mm case, and I think putting a 42mm ElPrimero next to original A386 is disingenuous, especially since 38mm El Primero exists and is what OP referenced.

As far as the overlap of subdials - criticism is valid, but I think it is a criticism of a design decision rather than movement limitations.
I tried on new El Primero Classic Cars recently and subdial layout was similar to that of A386.
View attachment 8420914

And there are plenty of EL Primero models with no subdial overlap, where simple design change (2 counters instead of 3, or smaller subdials) address any overlap concerns. Valid criticisms of the movement exist, but I do not think the size is the issue
View attachment 8420930 View attachment 8420938 View attachment 8420946
The diameter of the movement is besides the point, it's a question of where the pinnons for the subdials are located. In order for the subdials not to overlap on an El Primero with a modern sized case, the subdials have to be cramped into the center of the dial. This is quite readily apparent on the Captain Winsors, for example.
 

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