Friday, March 17, 2023

Rolex Explorer Ii On Wrist

Explorer Ii 216570 Dial

A Week on the Wrist with a Rolex Explorer II

Although the inaugural Explorer II was exclusively fitted with a black dial, every subsequent iteration of it has been available with either a black dial or a white Polar dial a trend that continues to this day. The Polar moniker is an entirely informal one, but you will frequently see the term Polar Explorer connected to the white dial examples, particularly in collecting circles. On both white and black dials of the reference 216570, the Explorer II name appears in bright orange letters to match the 24-hour hand and the hour markers are filled with Chromalight Rolexs proprietary blue-glowing luminous material. However, one difference between the black and white Explorer II 216570 dials is that the applied marker surrounds are finished black on the white dials, while the markers on the black ones are left in their natural state of high-polished 18k white gold.

Wrist Check: Rolex Explorer Ii

An interesting emotion comes with wearing certain watches. While it can be difficult to put into words, something changes when an Explorer II hugs your wrist. A sense of adventure ensues. Youre no longer sitting at your desk in a sea of cubicles youre ready to travel to the actual sea. Visions of alpine expeditions and multi-time zone journeys flood in like something straight out of an Ian Fleming novel. Some simply see a plain homologation between a GMT and dive watch design. However, I see something so much more a gateway to a different way of living.

Ok, that may have been a little dramatic, but the Explorer II holds such a special place in my heart. It was the watch that introduced me to the world of Rolex. The memories associated with this watch range from snowy evenings trekking through New York City to warm afternoons spent in wineries on the countryside. The Explorer II isnt just a watch its a companion. The design variations that differentiate it from the GMT-Master II or Submariner give it a more distinctly rugged look. The brushed steel bezel seems like it could double as a flint if you found yourself stranded in the woods and needed to start a fire . Lets get into why I cant get enough of one of the most underrated watches in the current Rolex collection.

Rolex Explorer Ii Value

You cant do a Rolex Explorer II review without highlighting some of Explorer series amazing feats. Can you tell me the significance of Mt. Everest as it relates to this watch? The Rolex Explorer line was created after a British led expedition to Mt. Everest. The line started with the original Explorer. This first example was meant to be easily visible in extreme conditions. This was done by oversized numerical hour markers at the 3, 6, and 9 position. This original example was noted as the Rolex Explorer 1016. Like most things in life, the original was redesigned, perfected if you will. Jump forward to 1971 with the release of the Rolex 1655 which featured an oversized 39 mm case and my personal favorite addition, a 24 hour fixed bezel.

Is the Rolex Explorer II a good investment? Find out with our Rolex Investment & Value Guide.

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What Did People Expect Of The New Explorer

So, the updates were nice enough. Nobody was hollering from the rooftops that the watch was a backward step, but how did that match the plethora of rumors before the launch? Well, as with any rumor, you have to take them with a pinch of salt. While the saying is theres no smoke without fire, rumors are often nothing more than people expressing their wants and desires in our wonderful world.

One of the most common rumblings from the enthusiast community was a new ceramic bezel. You may well have seen the mockups online. Ill be honest, they looked good, and some were incredibly well made. They suckered me in and had me hoping for a nice ceramic bezel. I mean, there was some logic behind it all, too, albeit tenuous. Rolex moved away from metal bezel inserts for the other sports watches and moved to Cerachrom inserts instead. So, did a solid Cerachrom bezel seem that wild, really? Possibly not, but it did to Rolex. No dice.

Explorer Ii 216570 Hands


Beyond the larger case size, the most discussed aspect of the reference 216570 was the return of the models large, bright-orange, arrow-shaped 24-hour hand. Rolex famously never makes vintage-inspired or heritage pieces, although the brand does occasionally acknowledge various design elements from its past. While the hour, minute, and seconds hands are essentially larger versions of the style found on most Rolex sports watches, the 24-hour hand on the ref. 216570 is a recreation of the version found on the very first Explorer II watch from the 1970s.

Additionally, one other point worth mentioning is that the hands found on the white Polar dial examples are finished black to match their black-finished hour markers, while the hands fitted to the black dial examples are polished white gold and only feature black finished bases, which gives them a floating appearance. Similarly, the bright orange 24-hour hands are not exactly the same on the black and white dial versions of the reference 216570, and the ones fitted to the black dial models also feature black-finished base sections to match the similarly-styled hour and minute hands.

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Rolex Explorer Ii Pricing & Availability

The Rolex Explorer II can be purchased at authorized dealers for $8,550 MSRP. Waitlists do exist for this collection and one could expect to wait anywhere between 6-18 months. Even though the white dial is commonly known as the more desirable reference, both sell out as soon as they arrive in the store.

A Closer Look At The Rolex Explorer Ii 216570

It is often said that Rolexs approach to watch design and development is one that could be considered evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Incremental improvements in the pursuit of perfection is the Rolex way, but this often means that a lot of visual similarities exist between different generations of Rolex models and a close examination is often required in order to fully appreciate the various nuances of a given reference. Below is a breakdown of the defining features of the Rolex Explorer II 216570.

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How I Changed My Mind About The Rolex Explorer Ii

A long time ago in a land far away , I embarked on the journey of watch collecting. I had saved enough to confidently go into the local Rolex authorised dealer and strike up a deal. Ten years ago, you could actually negotiate a discount on some of these watches, which was the only way to squeeze one into my budget.

After a few visits and a sufficient amount of free coffee and brochures I decided on a white dial stainless-steel Datejust. I usually tell people that I landed on the DJ because of its versatility and simple beauty. Ten years later, Im a big enough person to also admit that I couldnt quite stretch to afford the Submariner Date sitting beside it. At the last moment, the helpful sales consultant mentioned she had one other watch I should take a look at before finalising. It was a black dial Explorer II 16570. Thats right, literally a new-old-stock Rolex sports watch they couldnt get rid of. She offered it to me for the same price as the Datejust. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say but, at the time, I just didnt connect with it. The 16570 seemed a bit dour compared to the sparkly Datejust that had polished centre links and a much better bracelet. Ever since, Ive passed up more 16570s than sticks can be shaken at, albeit at ever increasing price points.

Like many of us, I eventually got to spend some time with a 16570 and develop an appreciation for its understated properties. You can read that T& T article here.

Bruce Duguay

So What Does This Say About The Market Appetite For The New Rolex Explorer

How to set your Rolex Explorer II

It goes to show the power of the Crown. When Rolex announced the minor updates at Watches And Wonders 2021, there was a lot of whinging across the community about how Rolex missed a trick to actually provide a tangible update to the Explorer II. Well, Rolex clearly knows exactly what its doing. Weve not seen any visible loss of interest in the Explorer II. The second-hand market prices remain stable and well above the list price. I think that as far as Rolex is concerned, thats a big tick in the win column.

To be honest, I can understand why. I much prefer the newer, slimmer case lugs to the older maxi style. The new, updated caliber is undoubtedly a big plus, too, providing multiple beneficial improvements to everyday wear and operation. Genuinely, whats not to like? The Explorer II, specifically the polar dial, has long been my favorite model in the Rolex catalog. But it doesnt appear like Ill be getting one any time soon

What about you? What did you make of this iterative update of the Explorer II 226570? Did you even care at all? As ever, let me know in the comments.

Follow me on Instagram: @davesergeant

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Explorer Ii 216570 Case

Although the very first Rolex Explorer II had a 39mm case, every subsequent model prior to the reference 216570 had featured a 40mm case diameter. Signaling a major turning point for the collection, the then-new ref. 216570 was larger than any other Explorer II watch at 42mm in diameter. Additionally, while the lug width on all previous Explorer II watches was 20mm, the updated ref. 216570 featured slightly larger 21mm lugs to better match its larger case. While the larger Oyster case still offered users 100 meters of water resistance, its increased size resulted in a significantly larger overall presence on the wrist, immediately separating it from the numerous other Rolex models with 40mm cases and placing it among the absolute largest models in the brands collection.

Explorer Ii 216570 Bracelet

Like many of Rolexs other sport and tool watches, the Oyster bracelet was the only official option for the Explorer II reference 216570. With that in mind, the bracelet found on the ref. 216570 represents a dramatic improvement over the Oyster-style bracelet fitted to its predecessor. Unlike the previous style of bracelet, the stainless steel Oyster bracelet on the ref. 216570 features completely solid links and a redesigned Oysterlock safety clasp that includes the brands Easylink extension system, which enables users to either expand or contract the bracelet by 5mm, completely on the fly and without the use of any tools.

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Explorer Ii 16550 Black Dial

The reference 16550 was also made with a black dial, and there is a huge difference in price between the black dial versions and the white cream dial versions.

And since the black dials didnt use the white paint, they didnt develop an issue. The black dial used is a gloss dial with hour markers and hands featuring metal frames.

Worth noting is that both the black and white dial versions also have so-called rail dials which were used during parts of their production. The rail dial versions are another detail that affects their prices and commands a premium on the market.

Rolex Explorer Ii Review

Jaxxor on Instagram: This fantastic explorer piece is a perfect wrist ...

If there was ever a watch in the Rolex Professional line that doesnt get the hype it deserves, its the Rolex Explorer II White Dial. Often under overshadowed by the GMT Master, the Rolex Explorer II offers a true tool watch experience unrivaled by many.

In our Rolex Explorer II review, well showcase what makes this GMT watch so great and why its a companion for any adventure.

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Wrist Test: Rolex Explorer Ii 16570

Watch blogger and photographer Owen Davies trials the Rolex Explorer II 16570.

The original Explorer I was designed with adventure in mind and was sentup Mount Everest on the wrists of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. It livedto tell the tale but soon Rolex reinvented it entirely, fitting it with a fixed24-hour bezel and a third hand, which unlike the GMT-Master was designed togive a 24-hour time reading not a second time zone. The new idea is that itwould be useful to those spending long hours in the dark and its target marketwas now speleologists, aka cave scientists. Believe it or not it didnt sell aswidely as other models designed for pursuits such as scuba diving or motor racing . Yet the Explorer II lives on and it has its fans,its very rarity now a key part of its appeal.

We were interested to see how Owen, a bona fide Rolex fan, would get onwith it, seeing as hes dead set on getting a Rolex next and he has cultivated opinions on the different modelsyet never seems to mention the Explorers. So we gave him a recent model and sent him away with it fora week. Heres what he thought

What did youinitially like about the Explorer II?

I liked the brilliantwhite dial and found it a welcome change to my usual Submariner. I also lovethe brushed steel bezel as it gives the watch a utilitarian look. The blackhands and outlined hour markers look great against the white of the dial too.

Was thereanything about it you weren’t too keen on?

How did itfeel on the wrist?

Rolex Explorer Ii 16550 Dials And Cream Dial

Rolex also made a number of changes to the dial for the 16550. First and foremost, you now have the ability to choose between either white or black dial.

Furthermore, Rolex now introduced lume-filled hour markers with metal frames rather than painted lume on the dial. It still follows a similar theme of using a triangle at 12 oclock and rectangles, but Rolex did remove the lume markers between each second, which could be found at the very edge of the dials on the 1655s.

The 16550 would also come to introduce the Mercedes-style hands compared to standard sword-shaped hands. This allowed for a sportier and, at least by now, a more iconic and distinct appearance.

The 16550 is often referred to as the cream dial, and the background behind this is actually very interesting. But note that this only relates to the white dial version and not the black. If you look at the white dial 16550s today, you can see that these dials are not really white but rather cream-colored with a brown/yellowish/ivory//cream-color hue to them. This is actually not done by purpose, but rather the result of a paint defect in Rolexs white paint that was used. This cream color only developed after some time. Since Rolex is all about making perpetual products that remain the same for generations to come, the cream dials can be seen as a great failure by Rolex, but the fact is that the 16550 cream dials command a huge premium on the market today and have become true collectibles for this reason.

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Explorer Ii 216570 Bezel

Probably the single most defining element of the Rolex Explorer II is its brushed stainless steel bezel that is engraved with a black 24-hour scale. Unlike the 24-hour bezel on the GMT-Master series which rotates bi-directionally, the bezel on all Rolex Explorer II watches is fixed. However, with the exception of the very first Explorer II reference, the independently adjustable hour hands on the watch can be used in conjunction with its 24-hour bezel to simultaneously display two different time zones.

Explorer Ii 216570 Movement

The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 is the unsung hero in the Professional series

The Rolex Explorer II 216570 is powered by the brands in-house Caliber 3187 movement, which is only found inside reference 216570 watches. An evolution of the Caliber 3186 that powers its predecessor, the Rolex Cal. 3187 is a certified Swiss chronometer and it benefits from modern proprietary Rolex technologies such as a blue Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers for greater resistance to shocks and temperature fluctuations. The Rolex Caliber 3187 offers users a 50-hour power reserve and like all modern Rolex movements that feature the brands Superlative Chronometer status, the Cal. 3187 promises timekeeping accuracy within -2/+2 seconds per day.

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Rolex Explorer Ii Wrist Shot

Full disclosure, this is my daily driver, if you will. I wear this watch every day so I may be a little biased. Ive always had my eye on this example from Rolex but didnt pull the trigger on adding it to my collection until 2019. I think 2019 was when my boss got sick of hearing me talk about it and assumed me buying this would finally shut me up but as us watch nerds know, thats never the case.

Ive said it before in past articles, I love watches as tools, more than telling time. And I especially love the GMT function. I believe this is the most practical complication offered by any brand on the market, whether it be Rolex, Breitling, IWC, etc. For the business professional who travels between time zones, a GMT watch should be the obvious choice. By the way, if youve got time check out my other article on GMTs, Top 5 GMT Watches.

As we said at the beginning of the article, the Rolex Explorer II is not the hottest model on the Rolex line. As we all know, stainless steel sport or professional models are nearly impossible to come by from the ADs right now. Props to Rolex for creating demand for something that greatly outweighs supply. Like many of you reading this right now, youre likely on a waitlist at your respected AD, waiting for the call. I had this exact experience with my local AD.

To learn more about the Rolex waitlist for the Explorer II, check out our article.

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