What is Cool about the Rolex’s new Explorer II
At Basel 2011, Rolex unveiled an updated version of the venerable Explorer II. Originally introduced in 1971 as a watch for cave dwellers, the Explorer II stood out as Rolex’s adventure watch because of the 24 hour bezel that can be felt by finger pressure, and the 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. The Explorer II was intended to be an adventure watch through-and-through.
Since 1971, the Explorer II was updated along with the GMT II in the early 1990’s whereby they shared the same 3185 movement. The 3185 movement allowed for an independently set 12 hour hand such that the Explorer II can track two time zones rather than one. Initially, the Explorer II’s 24 hour hand was intended for cave dwelling to discern whether it was 0700 in the AM or 1900 in the PM and the reason for the bright orange 24 hour hand. Additionally, the 24 hour hand was automatically set to local time and when outside, the 24 hour hand will point North when the 12 hour hand was pointed to the sun (Northern Hemisphere only; look at watch overhead for the Southern Hemisphere). With having an independent 12 hour hand introduced in the updated 16650, the orange hand was not needed and ceased to exist. In 2011 all that changed with the unveiling of Reference 216570 which brought back the orange hand, and orange lettering on the dial.
The new Explorer II 216570 incorporates a larger case and watch face increasing from 40mm to 42mm, larger hands filled with Rolex’s new Chromolite lume, Rolex’s proprietary in-house ParaFlex shock mechanism, and Rolex’s updated solid linked Oyster bracelet and clasp with the EasyLink system to quickly adjust the band ½ link. Like with all update Rolex watches, there is anti-reflective coating under the date window for easy date viewing.
Without question, the Explorer II is an adventure watch. Available in either matte black face or polar white face, the new Explorer II is easy to read, the orange hands are certainly visible, and on the black face model, the hands are painted black in the center section giving 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, but it does glow longer and more often in low light conditions. The Explorer II is a great update and shows that Rolex is looking towards the future while honoring its past.