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Rolex Explorer II

With the Explorer II, Rolex addresses all the intrinsic adventurers and those who appreciate elegantly designed watches and reliable technology. The successor of the legendary Explorer has made quite a name for itself. The famous “Orange Hand”, with the characteristic 24-hour hand, has swept millions of watch collectors and enthusiasts off their feet - the Explorer II is, without a doubt, one of the most famous models by Rolex.

All Rolex Explorer II Watches

Rolex Explorer

A watch for the adventurers of life

A watch for the adventurers of life

Robust steel case, precise GMT movement, and the orange hand: The Explorer II can be counted among Rolex models with the highest recognition factor. Just like its Explorer predecessor, the sporty watch is part of a line of professional Rolex chronometers that were specially created for expedition groups. Both models are associated with a high level of robustness and precision. The Explorer II enjoys a great reputation amongst discoverers and adventurers - just like them, this Rolex watch is unshakable, even under extreme circumstances.

The Explorer II differs from its predecessor when it comes to its practicality and in its unique design. In order to simplify time legibility, Rolex has equipped the watch with an additional hand that displays the time on a 24-hour scale. The function proves to be particularly useful for cave explorers who venture into pitch black spaces for long periods of time. Therefore, the Explorer II - just like the GMT-Master II - is equipped with a 24-hour bezel. Contrary to the GMT-Master II, however, the bezel of the Explorer II is fixed.

Ultimately, one does not need to be near a volcanic rupture in order to enjoy the advantages of the Explorer II. Its unrivalled design and, above all, the function of the orange hand, have gained cult status worldwide.

Explorer II

The world as an experimental laboratory - Rolex has stayed true to this motto with the development of the Explorer II.

Presented for the first time in 1971, the spirit of the wristwatch is rooted in the fundamentals of the Rolex Explorer while still bestowing its own sense of style. From the very beginning, Rolex has demonstrated an affinity for the spirit of discovery. The company has equipped explorers and scientists with reliable chronometers for decades. Today, the Swiss manufacturer cooperates with record-holders, including the adventurer Erling Kagge, or the polar explorer, Rune Gjeldnes. In this clever way, Rolex has created a worldwide testing ground where chronometers can be tested under extreme natural conditions.

The Explorer exemplifies as an inexhaustible drive for innovation. The timepiece stays true to outstanding precision and functionality under the most extreme of circumstances. The stainless steel case, which is waterproof to 100 metres, and the automatic chronometer movement with the Paraflex shock absorbers, allow for an ideal companion in the Explorer II, both in icy blizzards and sandy beaches. The Explorer II pays tribute to the pioneering spirit and it is a reliable wristwatch through any situation and environment.

1655, 16550, 216570

An overview of the most important Explorer II references

In 1984, Rolex made one of the most extreme changes in the history of the Oyster line: The Explorer II was equipped with a new watch face, a new bezel, a new movement, and a new 24-hour hand. The “Orange Hand” Ref. 1655 became the Ref. 16550. This watch contained one flaw: The models that incorporated a white dial soon faded into a shade of cream. The production of these “faulty” watches came to a halt and, as a result, most Explorer II watches Ref. 16550 include a white face. Even so, the initial models with the so-called “cream dial” have found supporters and enjoy great popularity on the vintage market. The Explorer II Ref. 1655 and the Explorer II “cream dial” are valuable collector’s items and their prices continually increase each year.

In 1988, the Explorer II received both a new calibre and a new reference: 16570. The new version was not one of the best-sellers by Rolex, but in the ‘90s the demand for used “Steve McQueen Rolex” watches grew and the nostalgia amongst Rolex-enthusiasts became obvious. This prevailing mood among Rolex clientele, as well as a growing trend towards bigger watches, were probably the main reasons for the presentation of a new Explorer II (Ref. 216570) in 2011.

With the latest version of the Explorer II, Rolex looks back on the history of this esteemed men’s watch and allows the famous orange arrow-hand to tick again. On the surface, the “Steve McQueen” and the new Explorer II (Ref. 216570) have a lot in common. The new model is set apart however with the chronometer calibre 3187 with the Parachrom hairspring and the Paraflex shock absorbers. The Explorer II (Ref. 216570) with its solid 42-millimetre case can be purchased with a white or a black watch face. Due to its longevity, both a new and a second-hand Explorer II are an attractive investment. Legendary design and remarkable robustness: The Explorer II is built for eternity.