Lemme Upgrade U: My Wife's Rolex Explorer I


This story is about a special watch I gave to the love of my life – my wife. We finally said “I Do” about five months ago after being together for nearly ten years. You can bet we know each other pretty-well after dating for so long. She’s well-aware of my obsession with watches and couldn’t be more supportive of watchpatina.com – she even proofreads every post before I publish. Instead of me telling her story, I asked her to co-author this piece. Just like that day I nervously proposed…I was pumped when she said “Yes!” So without further ado, we hope you enjoy reading about her Rolex Explorer I.

I never knew the mystique that surrounded a Rolex until I met my then boyfriend – now husband. He was so passionate and vocal about what made this brand special…it intrigued me (he bought his first Rolex – a Datejust – at age 17, in Paris!). Throughout our ten years together, I've definitely learned a lot about watches and have grown to have an appreciation for them.  I've also gotten pretty good at spotting what's what, and probably am a tad more informed than the average woman on the ‘better’ watches.

One of the first presents I ever received from Nick was a Swatch watch for Valentine’s Day – along with a cute stuffed-animal bulldog and a tear-jerker card!  The Swatch had a clear case so you could see all the intricate movements inside - I loved it!  It was simple, but not boring. Before this Swatch, I don’t even remember what I was wearing to tell time. I wore it so much that the clear strap eventually turned yellow. I was once a little careless and melted part of the plastic strap  on my hot straightening iron…long live the Swatch!

When I got the itch for a new watch, my best-girl tagged-along on a shopping excursion to Tourneau and helped me pick one out. Her opinion has always been super-important to me, so I wanted her input before handing over my credit card. With her seal-of-approval, I bought a Breitling Navitimer Montbrillant Datora.

A few years passed before I got my next watch from Nick: a white-face, military-inspired, Timex from J.Crew. This gift was hidden amidst an Easter Egg hunt around our apartment and came complete with a few colorful nato straps, which were my favorite feature.  I loved it so much…we eventually bought a black-face version with even more nato straps! To me, these watches were ‘cool’ without trying too hard, which is totally my style. I also loved the ability to swap-out the straps to match my mood (or my shoes!).

Now we both had options when it came to what watch to wear. My Navitimer, with its leather strap, sporty feel, and multitude of functions was a welcomed change-of-pace from the simplicity of my Datejust. I enjoyed rotating this tandem until my Breitling started having mechanical issues with its day-change indicator. Repeated servicing never fixed the problem. Even though I loved its look, the practicality of the triple-date (when it was working properly), and using the chronograph, I didn’t like the feeling of wearing a watch I couldn’t completely rely on: I honestly felt like my Breitling was a lemon. But getting rid of it wasn’t an easy call because it was the first ‘serious’ watch we bought as a couple (the second being my Explorer II).

In the summer of 2013, while I was away on a work trip, Nick was attending a local IWJG show (he had visions of becoming a watch dealer…).  I also knew he was there with the intention of trading in his Breitling. That night, he told me he had a surprise waiting for me. Obviously I knew it was a watch, but had no idea which one…he knew my favorite Rolexes: Gold with a Tiger’s Eye dial, ‘Root Beer’ GMT, and the blue-dial Turn-O-Graph with red date. I was nervous these would 'break the bank' – even with a trade-in.  After a delayed flight, and a long cab ride home, I finally walked through the door and found the most pleasant surprise…

I love surprising my wife. The very idea of presenting her with her very-own Rolex had me in a state of euphoria. Being at my first IWJG show compounded my level of excitement. Somehow I regained my composure just long enough to brainstorm the ideal ‘first’ Rolex to get her: An Explorer I. It was reminiscent of the Timex-style she’d been wearing for years, including looking good on a nato strap. Plus, I owned an Explorer II by now, so the “his & hers” aspect of the set was also too perfect to resist.

There were a lot of Explorers available for sale at the IWJG event, but I needed to find one that I could trade for...I eventually spotted what I thought was the best example: I remember it standing out because of its sharp, unpolished bezel and uncommon, but correct, 93150 flip-lock bracelet.

My adrenaline revved back up when I was on the verge of finalizing the trade. I got caught up in the ‘wheeling and dealing’ taking place all around me and before long I was handing over my Breitling. I proudly showed-off her Explorer I to a well-respected dealer. He checked it out with his loupe and dropped a bombshell on me: The dial appeared to have moisture damage. His news knocked the wind out of my sails. I thought I had just bought the most-amazing watch for an equally-amazing girl. I was a little embarrassed at my rookie mistake: I couldn’t bring myself to approach the seller and return the watch. I’ll be honest: The ‘flawed’ dial did bother me initially. But after a little while, the notion that its blemish was connected to its history appealed to me – too bad we’ll never know how it got that way…

Nowadays, I keep my Explorer I on a nato strap: The chunky stainless-steel bracelet was too much 'hardware' on top of my diamond ring and wedding band. While a Rolex isn’t anything I would’ve purchased for myself, I'm happy to own it and to wear it.  But to me, at the end of the day, it’s not about what ‘kind’ of watch it is because I was perfectly happy with my Timex! I love it because it was a thoughtful gift from my husband, and I know he gets a lot of enjoyment from us having “his & hers” watches.

I sometimes kid around with people that I knew my wife was a keeper because she puts up with my watch addiction:  She even walked hand-in-hand with me through the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva – although I might have bribed her with a dinner of steak frites afterwards…The point is we love being together and making each other happy. My wife and I have a lot of hopes for our future. Watches, especially Rolexes, have always been a sweet reward for goals I've set and achieved: I can't wait for us to welcome more watches into our collection as we realize our dreams together.

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