For a watch in the tool/sports genre there are two important aspects - functionality and aesthetics. The Rolex Explorer 2 combines both in a perfect way. A sturdy construction, a date and a GMT complication.

picture of the explorer II


In 1971, Rolex unveiled the Explorer II as the larger sibling to the original Explorer I. The new line of watches were created specifically for speleologist. Rolex has a history of watches for specific purposes. The Rolex Submariner as the iconic dive watch. The Rolex Daytona as a watch for race car drivers and the Rolex GMT for commerzial airline pilots. The Rolex Explorer II has features that make it a particularly practical item for cave exploration.

There is a extra 24-hour hand that points to a fixed bezel with 24-hour markings. The logic behind this is that cave explorers are often in the dark and therefore, can’t tell the difference between AM and PM. The 24-hour hand points to either 10:00 or 22:00, the wearer can now know whether it’s day or night.

The Ref. 216570 is also heavily lumed on all hour markers and all 4 hands. The watch does a great job of telling the wearer the exact time of day (and night) even in complete darkness.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the model, Rolex presented the Explorer II ref. 216570 in 2011. Although it’s a modern model, it pays fitting tribute to the inaugural ref. 1655.

The new Explorer ref. 216570 comes with an increased case size of 42mm, making it the largest version of the Explorer II. To balance the large case, hands, lume markers and the date disc also grew in size for even better legibility.

picture of the explorer II

In honor of the original Explorer II, Rolex outfitted the latest X2 with a orange arrow-tipped 24-hour hand. Unlike the original reference, the new model is a true GMT watch with a second time zone display. Adding the date window at 3 o’clock makes this now the ideal watch for adventurers, explorers and travelers. Powering the Explorer II ref. 216570 is the Caliber 3187 with a 50 hour power reserve..

This movement is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, offering greater resistance to shocks and to extreme conditions.

Honoring the original Explorer II, the Ref. 216570 performs great in the dark thanks to the Chromalight display. The blue hue that comes alive in low light lasts up to eight hours, which is double that of standard luminescent material.


Model Number: Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570

Movement: Rolex Cal. 3187

Case Material: 904L Stainless Steel

Glass Material: Sapphire Crystal

Lug Width: 21mm

Diameter/Height: 42 mm/12.5 mm

picture of the explorer II


The latest version of the Explorer II with the polar dial is a big watch and joined my collection in 2018. The X2 is the most accessible entry into a Rolex watch with GMT function. The white dial differentiates it from the commonly seen black Rolex Submariners.