Belgian polar explorer Alain Hubert has taken part in several remarkable mountaineering and polar expeditions to the South and North Poles from 1983 to the present. In 2002, Hubert created the International Polar Foundation (IPF) to support polar science as a key to understanding climate change. This inveterate explorer is still doing what he loves most: planning expeditions to the poles, always accompanied by what he considers an essential member of his team, his Rolex Explorer II.
Today, our ecosystems are changing very fast. We don’t know exactly how they will change or how fast they will change. More than ever, we need new explorers, new adventurers, new scientists going to the ocean, to the polar regions, to try to understand what we can do to face this situation in the next few decades.
Scientists explain that the changes today are exponential, and we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future but we know what to do to change our world altogether to survive on this planet. I think it’s very interesting for us as explorers to be able to touch this fragility at the extreme points of our planet. And when we come back, to try to communicate this conviction as well as what we have learned. As explorers, we have a responsibility to keep these places alive for the younger generation who have spent their lives dreaming of the North and South poles, of these other planets like the Antarctic, a place where only very few people can go.
Exploration for me, it’s a passion. It’s a relationship with nature that I will never be able to control.
Exploration for me, it’s a passion. It’s a relationship with nature that I will never be able to control. As an explorer, I will always have to face myself in nature. I am not competing with anyone else, I’m competing with myself.
I realized the connection between Rolex and exploration in 1998 when I got the watch I am wearing today. I was attracted by a partnership because they care about the environment. And they care about the ethics of exploration. And that was exactly the same as my own vision.
The Explorer II is a simple watch, and on expeditions, I always want to take simple devices with me. This watch has the essential use for me, which is that it has needles that allow me to use my watch as a bearing. People don’t know that on the ice, we have no reference anymore, so when I move from one direction to another, I constantly have to readjust — but if you stop and look around you, it’s white. And even when the weather is bad, it’s white everywhere. The only thing that I can trust in that moment is the safety that I will always be able to find my way.
When I got this watch, I was interested in the fact that it will never break or stop: there are no batteries, it works all the time, wherever I go, even in bad weather condition, it works. And on an expedition, it’s what I need. I can’t rely on any device that could cause problems because our main focus is navigation. I can’t lose my way. Otherwise, I am lost.
When I got this watch, I was interested in the fact that it will never break or stop.
What’s impressed me with this watch is that I wear it in my daily life as well, and it not only reminds me of what I did on expeditions, but it makes me dream about new adventures. For me, wearing it is not a question of possession, it’s really something which drives me because it’s part of my passion: going away to the most extreme part of the earth.
As an explorer, I want to share what I discover in these polar regions and I know that it’s impossible to do that alone. It’s always a team effort, and my Explorer II is part of the team.