The extreme toolwatch – the Rolex Explorer II, focused on speleologists and cavern explorers.

Some time back, Michael Stockton composed very much a ‘love letter’ (as one of our perusers wrote in the comments) on the Rolex Explorer 1016 . While the reference 1016 Explorer was being delivered effectively in 1963 and kept underway for a very long time, Rolex presented another Explorer in 1971. The Explorer II. This watch was not a replacement of the Explorer 1016, but rather an extra watch with an extra capacity. The Explorer II was focused on speleologists or cavern pioneers, who could lose the feeling of time during their work. At the point when you are not presented to sunshine, it’s practical to forget about time and whether you are winding up working during the day or night. I truly can’t envision this, however on the other hand, I’ve never ended up in that situation.

Rolex Explorer

The Explorer watches were demonstrated in their conventional manual as Type I and Type II. Where Type II accompanied the extra (24) hour hand, 24-hour scale bezel and, let’s not disregard that, a date. Both were chronometer evaluated watches and water impervious to 100 meters.  Explorers, regardless of the rendition, were rough watches that capable of the individuals who jumped at the chance to explore.

Explorer II Reference 1655

Rolex kept the Explorer II reference 1655 underway until around 1984/1985. In 1984, Rolex presented its replacement, the reference 16550. In this creation time of approximately 13/14 years, Rolex just corrected little changes. Gatherers sorted every one of them in various ‘Mark’ arrangement. There are around 7 distinct dials and a modest bunch of various bezels. Italian gatherer Stefano Mazzariol did a , so go thump yourself out.

1655 and 1675

The Explorer II had a similar development as the GMT-Master reference 1675 around then, type 1575. This development highlighted the 24-hour hand that shows AM/PM. While the GMT-Master had a turning bezel, the Explorer II reference 1655 utilized a fixed 24-hour scale pointer. Cavern adventurers just need to know, for instance, regardless of whether it is 7:00 or 19:00 and the huge orange hand demonstrates this for them.

Funky Dial

When I found the opportunity to mess with this Rolex Explorer II reference 1655 for some time (all things considered, I had it borrowed for about a year!) I was very energized. You need to realize that of all Rolex watches, the Explorer assortment is among my top choices (just as the GMT-Master) and the Explorer II 1655 has consistently evaluated as high on my list of things to get to attempt to test. One of the main things I saw was that the dial is kinda peculiar. In particular, I realized that the hour and moment markers were somewhat odd, however I didn’t understand the impact of this during ordinary wear.

As you can see, the hour and moment markers are very OK. At regular intervals there is a fat hour marker and on the 12, 6 and 9 there is some additional punch to them. Nonetheless, the 24-hour scale has been lined up with an additional arrangement of hour markers (or you can consider them to be half-hour markers), to which the enormous orange hand focuses. I discover this to be very diverting and it was hard for me to become acclimated to this dial and I don’t know I really did.

Fat Case

The Rolex Explorer reference 1655 has a fascinating case. Where I locate my own Rolex GMT-Master 1675 to wear very ‘thin’, this Explorer II wears in an unexpected way. It’s even exceptional versus the Sea-Dweller and Submariner watches I recently possessed. Additionally, the watch estimates 39mm in breadth, which is a tiny bit more modest than the others I referenced. It’s very thick, so the measurements summarize to what exactly wants to wear a compact and strong hardened steel watch, which it is obviously. Much the same as the crazy dial, this required some an ideal opportunity to get utilized to.

Explorer II Collector’s Market

The observe simply shouts ‘1970’s’ and I love that. The huge orange hand, the abnormal moment and hour tracks and the inconvenient case. Everything adds up. They say that the Rolex Explorer II reference 1655 wasn’t a famous watch while it was delivered. That is likely obvious, however I likewise read that the watch wasn’t advertised very well on a worldwide level. I can’t confirm this, yet what I can be sure of is, that you just needed to open a National Geographic Magazine of the 1970’s and you’d see an Explorer II advertisement inside.

Whether it was the 1970’s plan or individuals being new to this Rolex Explorer II reference 1655, it wasn’t a major dealer. You don’t see them available to be purchased frequently and the ones offered on Chrono24, for instance, get high prices.


As consistently, the condition is everything with vintage Rolex. Costs on the used market fluctuate a lot. On the lower end, you will discover generally those Explorer II reference 1655 models that have been essentially exhausted). Aspects are gone on the carries more often than not and those watches simply investigate cleaned. A fine model that actually has those huge features on the hauls and a lovely dial fetch very respectable costs these days.

The new Explorer II

In 1984, when Rolex presented the Explorer II reference 16550, the watch got a serious make-over. With this form, it had a superior fit with the other Rolex sports models like the Submariner, GMT-Master and Sea-Dweller. The case measurements were equivalent, the dial configuration was in accordance with the others and it got another development, the Rolex type 3085. This development highlighted a twofold extension and the additional hour hand could be set freely, similar to the Rolex GMT-Master II. Likewise, Rolex chose to make this model accessible with either a dark or a white dial similar as we are utilized to from the Daytona. The hands likewise changed to the acclaimed ‘Mercedes’ plan. Albeit this model and its later replacement (16570) were most likely preferred dealers over the reference 1655, they don’t have a similar clique status as the original Explorer II reference 1655.

In 2011, 40 years after the underlying Rolex Explorer II reference 1655, the new Explorer II was presented during BaselWorld. It showed up in a 42mm case (recollect that most other Rolex sports models actually have 40mm cases) and the enormous orange hand was back on the dial! Rolex made a point to get all developments installed this new Explorer II 216570, for example, the new Oyster wristband with Easylink framework, Paraflex safeguard, 904L steel and the most recent type 3187 movement.  once more, it was made accessible with either a white or dark dial. 5 years after its presentation, it is protected to say that it still isn’t a business entertainer like the Submariner or GMT-Master II, yet you do see them in the substance occasionally.

Some Thoughts

Although I offered a few remarks about the thickness of the watch and the peculiar looking blend of (2) hour and moment markers, the Explorer II reference 1655 didn’t baffle. It is still just about as otherworldly as I suspected it would be and it’s truly just an issue of having the correct degree of assets for one. As referenced, anybody, yet a decent one, as I accept the fun in these pieces is in claiming one that has the pleasant inclines on the drags and a nice looking dial. The new Rolex Explorer II 216570 can be viewed as a substitute, however I don’t think it is. It is an incredible current watch and I am struggling choosing adding either the Explorer II or the new Explorer 39mm to my own assortment eventually. The impacts from the Explorer II reference 1655 make it an alluring watch in fact. Another choice, that likewise turned into a top choice of mine, is the Rolex Explorer II 16570 with a white dial. Ideally with tritium markers and hands, marginally turned yellow for a decent difference with the white dial. I’m flabbergasted that these can in any case be found for moderately ‘normal’ costs, compared to any remaining current games Rolex watches. Something to think about.

More data by means of the  website.

*This article was distributed first in August 2016, yet we refreshed the pictures and a few pieces of the content for today’s distribution (April 24th 2019).