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Excellent Tool-watch

The Rolex Explorer II

Although it’s called the Rolex Explorer II, it’s not the successor of the Rolex Explorer. It belongs to the same family but it’s a different watch. The Rolex Explorer is a sporty and everyday-watch, while the Explorer II is the perfect tool-watch on your wrist with an orange hand for the second time zone and an additional 24-hour display on the bezel. Prices of these Rolex Explorer II’s are rising and are highly sought-after by collectors.

Introduced in 1971

The history of the Rolex Explorer II

Released back in 1971, the Rolex Explorer II stands out due to the stationary 24-hour bezel and the orange hand with an arrow tip. The Rolex Explorer II is a perfect alternative compared to the bigger and more expensive Rolex GMT-Master II. The Explorer II features a stainless-steel case and is water-resistant to 10 bar (100 meters) thanks to the Oystercase and Twinlock-crown. In the earlier days, the Rolex Explorer II measured both 39 or 40mm, while the newer models from 2011 on measure 42mm.

Just like the Rolex Explorer, Rolex didn’t update the Explorer II that much, since it only had 5 updates since 1971. The original Rolex Explorer II reference 1655 has stamped line indices on the dial and the numerals on the bezel are thinner than those found on subsequent models. The original 1655 Explorer II was only produced with a black dial and will cost you around €30.000 nowadays on Wristler.

The next generation Explorer II was the reference 16550 with a couple of changed made to the Explorer II. Round hour markers in white gold, tritium-based luminous material and sapphire crystal makes their way on the Explorer II from 1985. It measured 40mm and the caliber (3085) ticks in both the Explorer II and GMT-Master. It was the first Explorer II with a black or white dial and will cost you around €18.000 on Wristler.

The biggest update on the Rolex Explorer II was back in 2011 with the reference 216570. The stainless-steel Oyster case measured 42mm and feels heftier compared to the earlier models of the Explorer II. This reference marked the return of the orange, arrow shaped 24-hour hand found on the original 1655 Explorer from 1971. In 2021 Rolex updated the watch again, but solely on the inside: they’ve changed the caliber to the 3285 which has a 70-hour power reserve instead of 48 hours on the previous models.

Explorer II

The adventurers watch

You might even call the white dial Explorer II the ‘Polar’, since it looks like it. The Rolex Explorer II is the perfect adventurers watch and was originally made by Rolex for researchers and adventurers.

Spending long hours in underground labyrinths without sunlight can cause you to lose the sense of time. And that’s why Rolex added the additional 24-hour bezel on the Explorer II, just like on the GMT-Master (II).

Prices of the Rolex Explorer II

The original Rolex Explorer II from 1971 with reference 1655 is the heavy lifter of the Rolex Explorer II family: costing around €30.000 it’s the most expensive Explorer II out there. If you are willing to spend around €13.000 on Wristler, you can search for the 42mm black dial reference 216570 which is the cheapest Rolex Explorer II. The 42mm with a white dial is around €1.000 more expensive, because of the heritage of the white dial Rolex Explorer II. The 40mm models of the Rolex Explorer II change hands for €14.000 up till €19.000 on Wristler, for a well-maintained full set watch of the Rolex Collection. 

Since collectors and enthusiasts are often looking for the vintage or pre-owned Explorer II’s, prices have been rising in the past years. Sometimes even with over 100%. If you’re in the market for a new model Explorer II which looks like the vintage original one, you should take a look at the reference 216570. Compared to other watches like the Rolex Explorer II, you could also opt for the Rolex Submariner Date or Submariner No Date which will cost you around €13.000 as well. The heavier Rolex GMT-Master II is a bit more expensive, starting at €15.000 for the black bezel to €40.000 for the GMT-Master ‘Lefty’ or ‘Sprite’ from 2022. 

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