The Rolex Explorer is a timeless classic. A simple three-handed watch with easy to read numbers and a compact 36mm case. It was worn by explorers ascending Everest and remains a popular choice today, virtually unchanged in 60 years. A Rolex, though, will set you back thousands of pounds. Luckily you can get the look for a lot less – for example the Seiko SNX123.
A Week on the Wrist: the Seiko SNX123
Seiko’s take on the Explorer is part of the Seiko 5 range. According to Seiko, the ‘5’ stands for…
1. Automatic winding
2. Day/date displayed in a single window
3. Water resistance
4. Recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position
5. Durable case and bracelet
The SNX123 has all of these features in a 36mm case. I wore it for a week on holiday in sunny Skegness. Here’s what I thought of it…
I liked the Seiko SNX 123. It is a no-nonsense watch with a solid Seiko movement. It keeps good time, and the day display is handy when on holiday as the distinction between weekday and weekend is not there! The watch withstood all the bumps and knocks it was subjected to. The case also adequately kept out both sand and water – though I did not actually submerge it. Lume is, as always with Seiko, superb, and it remained visible in the dark for the whole length of a show.
The supplied bracelet is a horrible, rattly folded affair. I dumped it for a strap. The Seiko SNX123 has an odd 19mm lug width which makes choosing a new strap complicated. I went for a 20mm nylon Zulu strap which squeezed into the available space without looking too odd. It also solved the other problem with the watch: it is very small for a modern gent’s watch at 36mm. The NATO added sufficient bulk to make it look okay on my wrist but I think sports watches look better in 38mm+. The styling does not really suit it for dress wear.
Buy a Seiko SNX123
Overall I would recommend the Seiko SNX123 if you want the Rolex Explorer look on a budget. If you buy one, budget for either a custom-made 19mm strap or a thin nylon NATO or Zulu strap. Removing that rattly bracelet gives the watch a whole new lease of life. The Seiko SNX123 is hard to get in the UK mainstream dealers, but you can often pick them up from eBay.
If you want something a little closer to the Rolex Explorer, Alpha make a nice Explorer homage for about £60. Because I prefer a date function, the Seiko just pips it for me.