Über Explorer II
The Rolex Explorer II was introduced by Rolex in 1971, 18 years after the first Explorer came to the market. However, the overall history of the Explorer models dates much farther back to the 1930s. As Rolex continued to test the limits of what’s possible with mechanical watches, they began sending watches on mountain expeditions as a form of “research and development.” By doing this, their goal was to produce the perfect explorer’s watch for true expedition-seekers to wear. The final test run was in 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary became the first person to summit Mount Everest while wearing one of these early prototypes. The first Explorer was released later that year, and the Rolex Explorer II came nearly two decades thereafter.
A Watch Designed for Adventurers
The Rolex Explorer II takes the adventurous spirit of the first Explorer and turns it up a notch. It separates itself from the earlier Explorer models with a fixed steel bezel, lume plots circling the dial, a date display at 3 o’clock, and the well-loved bright orange 24-hour hand. Each of these additions were made with the adventurer in mind. The lumed hour markers enhance legibility in dark environments, and the 24-hour hand and date complications indicate A.M. vs P.M which is something that would otherwise be impossible at the extremes of this Earth, like in caves or on the poles. The Rolex Explorer II also differentiated itself by being offered in the now highly collectible white “polar” dial.
Key Features of the Explorer II
Given the nuanced complexity and breadth of Explorer II models, it’s important to narrow in on what defining features make up the collection. From its signature case style to its bezel and movements, here is a selection of elements you can’t miss.
Developed in 1926, the Rolex Oyster case is named after its ability to be sealed for maximum water-resistance. It’s a staple feature for the brand’s dress and sports watches, and it’s trusted to protect the watch’s inner components and detailed movements. Most Explorer II watches offer water-resistance up to 100m which is perfect for adventures and expeditions.
As a hallmark of the Explorer II collection, this bezel was created to track day and night hours or display a second time zone, depending on the reference number. Additionally, it’s a fixed bezel and is equipped with a 24-hour track that works in tandem with an additional hour hand that sweeps the dial once every 24 hours.
Known for its flat, three-piece links, the Explorer II collection is almost always complimented by a striking stainless steel Oyster bracelet. Another notable feature for modern Explorer II’s is the Easylink extension system that can be manipulated on the go.
As the Explorer II collection has evolved, so too has its movements. You can find a range of calibers, depending on the reference—these include the 1575, 3085, 3185, 3186, 3187 and 3285.
Discover Rolex Explorer II Models
There are a number of Explorer II references that warrant a deeper discussion—check out a handful of models that we consider to be a part of the upper echelon.