Rolex Explorer II Evolution- A Quick Comparison Amongst The References

Rolex Explorer II Evolution- A Quick Comparison Amongst The References

Evolution Of The Explorer II – A Quick Comparison Amongst The References

The Explorer II was first introduced in 1971 and has for a long time been a model that hasn’t quite gotten the attention it deserves. But now, all of that has changed as a result of the 50th anniversary of the Explorer II and the release of the latest Rolex Explorer II reference 226570.

The model has been evolving ever since its introduction in 1971. In this comparison, we’ll take a quick look at what has changed during the production from 1971 of the Explorer II until today.

The Rolex Explorer II was developed as a watch for spelunkers. In more simple terms, cave explorers. Whilst this is indeed a rather niche activity, compared to Rolex’s other purpose-built watches such as racing and diving, the core ethos of the Explorer II has always been durability and toughness. Regardless if you are exploring caves, hiking, or skiing.

For the purpose of which it is built, the Explorer II has a few key components that makes it stand out. First and foremost, it has a fixed 24-hour bezel. The primary purpose of this bezel is to help the wearer distinguish the day from night (which isn’t exactly possible when you’re in a cave), but it is obviously also possible to use it for keeping track of an additional timezone.

Furthermore, the Explorer II is built to be tough, robust, and durable. It is meant to handle all kinds of hardships that cave diving and other exploration activities may involve. And lastly, it has great emphasis on legibility thanks to large markers and strong lume that makes it easy to read the time in the dark.

Rolex Explorer II Reference 1655 

This is the first Explorer II introduced in 1971. It has many nicknames but perhaps is the most commonly used “Steve McQueen”.

Case Size: 39mm
Movement: Caliber 1575
Power Reserve: Approximately 48 hours
Frequency: 19,800 BPH
Dial Colors Available: Black
Luminous Mass: Tritium
Production Years: 1971 – 1985


Rolex Explorer II Reference 16550 

The reference 16550 is seen as a traditional Rolex Explorer II due to its short period of production.

Case Size: 40mm
Movement: Caliber 3085
Power Reserve: Approximately 48 hours
Frequency: 28,800 BPH
Available Dial Colors: Black & White
Luminous Mass: Tritium
Production Years: 1985 – 1989

Rolex Explorer II Reference 16570 

Once the 16550 was discontinued, improved solutions were adapted and the Reference 16570 was introduced.

Case Size: 40mm
Movement: Caliber 3185/3186
Power Reserve: Approximately 48 hours
Frequency: 28,800 BPH
Available Dial colors: Black & White
Luminous Mass: Tritium, Luminova, SuperLuminova
Production Years: 1989 – 2011

Rolex Explorer II Reference 216570

This model was a big leap for the Explorer II as the GMT hand commemorated the original design, but also the enlarged case.

Case Size: 42mm
Movement: Caliber 3187
Power Reserve: Approximately 50 hours
Frequency: 28,800 BPH
Available Dial Colors: Black & White
Luminous Mass: Chromalight
Production Years: 2011 – 2021


Rolex Explorer II Reference 226570

Introduced for the 50th Anniversary of Explorer II the reference 226570 was introduced in April 2021.

Case Size: 40mm
Movement: Caliber 3287
Power Reserve: Approximately 70 hours
Frequency: 28,800 BPH
Dial Colors Available: Black & White
Luminous Mass: Chromalight
Production Years: 2021 – Ongoing


 

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