The Explorer Collection debuted in 1953 to commemorate Sir John Hunt’s successful voyage of Mount Everest earlier that year. This famous Rolex timepiece from the professional line, inspired by the first men’s steps on the roof of the planet, had one goal—to meet the needs of professional explorers and all fervent adventure seekers. To make that happen, the Swiss watchmaker prioritized functionality, creating an incredibly durable and reliable model that has been technologically enhanced several times over the years while maintaining its fresh idea and enticing design simplicity.
Rolex introduced the Explorer II line in 1971, bringing a new level of quality that was specifically requested by the professional cave and polar explorers who needed a timepiece that could distinguish AM from PM. Rolex addressed this issue by including a fourth GMT hand and a fixed graduated bezel.
Rolex Explorer II
In this article, everything about the enticing Rolex Explorer II and its features is written. Rolex reinvented its tradition with the new Oyster Perpetual Explorer II timepieces (ref. 216570). Having preserved the iconic design of its predecessor, these high-quality watches honoring the 40th anniversary of the original Explorer II, which debuted in 1971, present the brand’s most recent patented technologies.
The first Explorer II was introduced in 1971, specifically designed to be a trustworthy tool for professional cave and polar explorers (and also worn by volcanologist Haroun Tazieff). Following the huge success of Explorer watches in 1954, the new product was designed to meet the specific needs of professionals who needed a timepiece that could tell the difference between AM and PM.
The innovative Calibre 3187 self-winding movement, completely crafted in-house, powers the new Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II 216570 timepiece. The said automatic mechanism, which pulsates at a frequency of 28,800 vph and has a power reserve of 48 hours, integrates the brand’s cutting-edge technology—the PARAFLEX shock absorbers and the non-magnetic PARACHROM hairspring, which ensures perfect reliability and high mechanical shock resistance.
This movement includes the best that Rolex offers at the time: a chronograph escapement, a power reserve of 70 hours, a blue parachrom balance spring, and paraflex shock absorbers. In short, without the need for winding, this movement is more efficient, more accurate, more robust, and lasts longer.
Rolex created the remarkable tough case out of super-hard 904L steel, which could withstand a variety of extreme situations. This alloy is also very corrosion resistant, and it is polished so finely that it almost has the luster of white gold. This way, the case is exceptionally robust, with a diameter of 42 mm, which is significantly larger than the original, which had a case diameter of 39 mm.
Dial, Bezel, and Hands
Since the dial has far more space for longer hands and larger indexes, the case size change improves readability even more. The dial comes in two colors: white and black, and both have a magnifying Cyclops eye and a date window at 3 o’clock. The black dial of the Explorer II makes the legibility exceptional—even a glance at the stygian, satin-finished dial provides the wearer with all the information they require.
The Mercedes handset’s base and the iconic bright orange 24-hour hand are painted black, creating the famous “phantom” effect and creating the impression that the hands are hovering above the dial. The “jumping” hour hand is designed to be set independently, allowing for a GMT function (second time zone) in conjunction with the 24-hour hand and the fixed bezel.
The fixed steel bezel with 24-hour graduations is an iconic feature that dates back to the first Explorer II. The bezel, when combined with the orange 24-hour hand, allows wearers to determine a second time zone at a glance and with minimal mental computations. With recessed and blackened 24-hour graduations, the bezel retains its brushed stainless steel appearance. This is a style that began with the original Explorer II 1655 in 1971 and evolved with the 16570.
Rolex’s Oyster Bracelet is a tri-linked piece of engineering and construction brilliance that is the most prevalent and iconic bracelet design of all time. The Explorer II Oyster bracelet is finished with vertical brushing on both the front and back, and the flanks are highly polished to a mirror finish that complements the case side and lugs. Rolex’s Oysterlock deployant clasp with Easylink extension makes it possible for wearers to micro-adjust the bracelet by up to 5mm.
If you hear the word Rolex, you probably think of luxury and excellence. Because of its popularity, the brand is known and recognized by the general public. Rolex Explorer II is ideal for voyagers, adventure seekers, or anyone looking for a timepiece with a second time zone complication. Even in extreme conditions, the dial of the Rolex Explorer was legible. It was a simple watch with only a time display, three hands, and no date window. Rolex didn’t change it much over the years, as you’ll see later. This type of timepiece is useful not only for polar explorers but also for speleologists, who spend a lot of time in pitch-dark caves.