During BaselWorld 2011, Rolex introduced the new Explorer II timepiece (amongst other new watches). With this new Rolex Explorer II, Rolex almost completed its task to update all watches in their collection to their latest requirements.
The lugs of the new Rolex Explorer II have become somewhat thicker, while the movements, bracelets, folding clasps, and, last not but least, prices have been updated as well.
The good thing about these updates is that in general, the new Rolex watches are certainly improvements over the prior versions. Rolex purists can be divided into two camps: those who like everything Rolex does, and those who don’t like any Rolex with a sapphire crystal.
Last year, just before BaselWorld 2010, Rolex “accidentally” – although we will never know – released a video and a picture of the successor of the ref.16570 Explorer II model. This year however, is the 40th anniversary of the first Explorer II (ref.1655) watch, the Steve McQueen Explorer or ‘Freccione’ as Italian collectors like to call this Rolex. It seems only logical that Rolex intentionally meant to release the new and improved Explorer II in this anniversary year.
Rolex’s Explorer II ref.216570 is a pumped-up version of its predecessor, and even bigger than the previous Submariner ref.116610 models introduced last year. With 42mm, it is somewhere in between the current Submariner and the big Sea-Dweller Deep-Sea models. The large orange 24-hour hand is a friendly nod to the original ref.1655 Explorer II, but that’s pretty much where the comparison between these models stops.
The newly introduced Rolex Explorer II is a successor of the Explorer ref.16570 that has been in the collection from 1989 until now. There is no reason – other than the orange hand – to think that Rolex intended to create a re-edition of the original ‘Freccione’.
This watch was one of the last models that Rolex had to update, and did so with the new Oyster bracelet and folding clasp with Easylink extension, 42 mm case, Chromalight dial, and caliber 3187 movement with Rolex’s latest Paraflex shock absorbers and non-magnetic Parachrom spring innovations. We predict that the Rolex Submariner No Date model will be revamped and introduced during BaselWorld 2012.
Our verdict on this Rolex Explorer II isn’t surprising. On the one hand, we applaud Rolex for bringing us a new version of the good ol’ Explorer II that has been in the collection for over 20 years. On the other hand, there are some small details that we will have to get used to. It seems that Rolex has a problem defining the type of hands they want to use on their new watches. Last year’s Rolex Explorer (ref.214270) had hands that were too short for the 39mm diameter, while this year’s Explorer II seems to have hands that are a bit awkward looking as well. The odd look is not because they are too short, but because they are too wide. The minute hand looks as though it suffers from obesity. Perhaps the new nickname – as Rolex aficionados tend to give their watches – should be the Explorer II Obesity.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II Specifications
Material: 904L Steel
Bezel: Fixed, 24-hour graduated
Waterproofness: 100 meters (330 feet)
Functions: 24-hour hand, GMT 12-hour hand with independent rapid-setting
Oscillator: Non-magnetic blue parachrom hairspring. High performance Paraflex shock absorbers.
Winding: Bi-directional self-winding
White lacquered with orange 24-hour hand Chromalight display with long-lasting luminescence
Type: Oyster, solid links
Material: 904L Steel
Clasp: Oysterlock folding clasp with safety catch Easylink 5 mm comfort extension link
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II Trailer