I am growing into a rather loyal Rolex fan. I do understand the stigma attached; the perceived pretentiousness by the uninitiated. I had felt this way at one time as well. That was until I owned one of my own, I now appreciate the brand for their longevity, history, technical feats, and overall quality and value. I do tend away from the instantly recognizable blingy “look at me” models in favor of the more understated pieces. After all I appreciate a Rolex for what it is, not what it means to everyone else who sees me wearing it.
I know that this watch has been discussed ad nauseam, but I still maintain that it is one of the best in the Rolex line. I sought out a watch that was truly a tool watch with some extra complications that I would value, but not a piece that anyone would recognize as a Rolex across the room. I wanted an everyday wearer that fit all occasions. I landed on the Explorer II model 16750 with the white dial. This watch is powered by the 3185 (later the 3186 with the Blue Parachrom hair spring) housed in the 40mm oyster case with a black or white dial and skeleton hands. It comes on a very comfortable oyster bracelet with a micro adjustment.
I really enjoy this watch, I was looking for a watch with a GMT function, mostly to have something different, and keep track of the time where my good friend lives in germany. It is nice to know what time it is there at a glance.I really believe for the price you pay, this piece has the most to offer in the line, and the guys over at The Prodigal Guide agree with me. Of course there are some supremely technical and complicated watches from Rolex like the Sky Dweller and the Daytona, but those are priced accordingly. Then there are the popular sellers like the GMT and Submariner which in my humble opinion have artificially inflated prices due to their popularity. You could spend a lot less on an Explorer, Datejust, or Airking, but you’re getting a pretty basic watch. To me the Explorer II slides under the radar in the middle at just the right price range for what this watch is delivering.
Rolex has always been in the business of tool watches, Developing the first waterproof, and dive watches. The Original Explorer was sent up Mount Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary showcasing the durability and reliability of the model. Rolex later added the revised model the Explorer II (which is really a completely different watch) with a GMT function with a large easy to read dial with bright luminova and a GMT function. This watch was aimed at speleologist and miners to help them track time as well as day and night on the surface while they were underground for extended periods.
There are a couple of iterations of the Explorer II, the 1655 being the first. In its day it was not well-loved, but was worn by the likes of Steve McQueen and has since become quite the vintage collectors model. Next was the 16550 and later the 16570, aesthetically nearly identical, but some major improvements with the latter. and finally the newest being the much larger and chunkier 216570. I shied away from the obese 216870, I tried it on and that 2mm larger case had a huge wrist presence.
I am no caver, miner or explorer, but I do use and appreciate the tool that I have in the Rolex Explorer II. From a historic watchmaker known for quality and toughness this rather elegant piece of machinery is really quite swell.
- Rolex Watches – Owning an Exception Feat of Precision Design (highrolexwatches.wordpress.com)
- John Mayer on the five best buys in vintage Rolex (hodinkee.com)
Rolex Explorer II | How to be Swell
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