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What is Cool about the New Rolex Explorer II

Rolex Explorer II History

At Basel 2011, Rolex unveiled an updated version of the venerable Explorer II. Rolex Explorer II history describes an investment in the future, as well as honoring the past. They originally introduced the Explorer II in 1971 as a watch for cave dwellers. It stood out as Rolex’s adventure watch because the 24 hour bezel could be felt by finger pressure, and the visible bright orange 24 hour hand. The all stainless bezel and the orange 24 hour hand is certainly what made the Rolex Explorer II definitely cool. Unlike other Rolex sport watches, there is not a two-tone, gold, or platinum version. They intended the Explorer II to be an adventure watch through and through.

Track Two Time Zones

In the early 1990’s, they updated the Explorer II along with the GMT II. At this time they both shared the same 3185 movement.  This movement allowed an independently set 12 hour hand. Now the Explorer II could track two time zones rather than one. Initially, they intended the Explorer II’s 24 hour hand for cave dwelling to discern whether it was 0700 in the AM or 1900 in the PM. This was also the reason for the bright orange 24 hour hand.

Additionally, the 24 hour hand was automatically set to local time. When outside, the 24 hour hand points North when the 12 hour hand points to the sun. When they introduced the independent 12 hour hand with the 16650, the orange hand was no longer needed and ceased to exist. In 2011, all that changed with the unveiling of Reference 216570. This brought back the orange hand and orange lettering on the dial.

Original Rolex Reference 1655 Explorer II

What’s Cool

The new Explorer II 216570 incorporates a larger case and watch face. These increased from 40mm to 42mm.  This model integrates larger hands filled with Rolex’s new Chromolite lume and Rolex’s proprietary in-house ParaFlex shock mechanism. Rolex’s updated solid linked Oyster bracelet and clasp with the EasyLink system allowed quick adjustment of the band ½ link. Similar to all updated Rolex watches, there is anti-reflective coating under the date window for easy date viewing.

An Adventure Watch

Without question, Rolex Explorer II history describes the development of an adventure watch.  The new Explorer II is available in either matte black face or polar white face and easy to read. Additionally, the orange hands are certainly more visible. The black face model has painted black hands in the center section. This gives a floating hands look, a nod to the original 1971 Explorer II design. The Chromolite lume is not as bright as the SuperLuminova found on other Rolex models. However, it does glow longer and more often in low light conditions. The Explorer II is a great update and popular choice for the adventurer in all of us.