The Explorer II was introduced by Rolex in 1971, 18 years after the first Explorer came to the market. 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.” Their goal was to produce the perfect explorer’s watch. 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 Explorer II nearly two decades thereafter.
The Explorer II represents a high level of value to collectors in terms of complications for the money spent (especially at pre-owned prices). This watch offers both GMT and date complications -- two additions that usually command much higher price tags from Rolex. This watch is also a great alternative to the GMT Master II, which is an all-around larger and more expensive model. Lastly, the elusive white dial Explorer II is among sparse company when it comes to Rolex sports models with a white dial.
Though this is not the case for the newest Explorer II models, the pre-owned market offers great value when it comes to earlier Explorer II’s. Due to the increased popularity of the Rolex sports models, the secondary market is the best place to shop for the most recent models. If you are in the market, Watchbox’s global inventory is the best place to start your search!
The Explorer II takes the adventurous spirit of the first Explorer and turns it up to eleven. 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 aid increased legibility in dark environments. The 24-hour hand and date complications indicate am vs pm, something that would otherwise be impossible at the extremes of this Earth like in caves or on the poles. The Explorer II also differentiated itself by being offered in the now highly collectible white “polar” dial.