Unavailable: Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16570 And What Makes It A Beloved Watch
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Unavailable: Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16570 And What Makes It A Beloved Watch

Unavailable: Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16570 And What Makes It A Beloved Watch


We’re back, Timelords! This time we have a model which has a stunning history of achievement and a future that's always striving for greatness. The Rolex Explorer II 16570 was introduced in 1989, following on from the highly prestigious reference 16550. Its update represented a huge shift in the technology and the design, thus why the reference 16570 is so revered. Without getting too much into the ins and outs of the model right now, let us indulge why The Explorer II Ref 16570 could be considered your next best investment!


Rolex Explorer II History


The “Polar” II was born from its predecessor, the Rolex Explorer. The Rolex Explorer dates back to 1953 with some earlier models possessing some nice vintage appeal. The Explorer was born from its ingrained exploration history, for example, in 1953 The Oyster Perpetual ‘Bubbleback’ went up Everest with Tenzing Norgay. It would be this timepiece that heavily influenced The Explorer and led to its birth. It was formally released in 1959 and named the ‘Explorer 1016’. 

12 years later, the Explorer II 1655 was released in 1971. It is known as ‘The Steve Mcqueen’ due to its associations with the famous actor but this is a common misconception. He was actually wearing a Submariner!

This was further developed and enhanced resulting in The Explorer II utilising a legible dial and a larger case as well as a 24h hand and scale that clearly contrasted with the rest of this magnificent piece. A soft spot with many enthusiasts, some variations of this model remain highly sought after. A new metal bezel was fitted onto the model and allowed it to become a fantastic tool watch for those seeking the tougher sides of life. 



Explorer II 16570 - Source - Scottish Watches

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The model would be used in a variety of fields, particularly Speleology as the second hour hand effectively allowed the user to measure daylight hours while studying caves etc. In 1985, we saw reference 16550 released…the first to feature a polar type dial and white hands. Its links with those who traversed around difficult landscapes and its sudden ‘whiteness’ gave this particular timepiece the nickname ‘Polar’. They sure do love their nicknames!

The collection has been continually evolving since, featuring models like reference 216570 with a larger case and an orange second hour hand in the shape of an arrow like its predecessors. Of course, there was also the release of reference 16570 which came in 1989 and brought with it an array of changes. 


Design of the Rolex Explorer II Ref 16570


The case measures 40mm and is composed of stainless steel. The lugs have a satin finish which contrasts beautifully with the polish effect on the crown guards and sides of the case. The satin finish allows the lugs to stand out considerably which is a nice aesthetic effect making it a good option if you want to buy a Rolex with multifunctional purposes, suiting all manner of occasions in and out of the office.


Source - Watch Obsession

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Furthermore, the model harbours iconic aspects of the professional line. For example, the watch has a Triplock crown which essentially means no water is capable of making it into the crown due to its triple protection mechanism. Furthermore, the watch offers 100m water resistance and a steel caseback with no engravings, meaning its sapphire crystal is only needed to protect the dial and not an exhibition back. The dial is available in either ‘polar’ white or black and features the 24 hour hand that has since become a staple of these watches. As Michael Jackson proclaimed, it doesn't matter if you’re black or white. But which horological fence are you sitting on? Personally, the black is underestimated as a stand out dial and lacks the affection it’s polar sister receives. The dial has a date aperture at 3 o'clock which is given a cyclops eye in order to magnify and increase its legibility, making it an opportunity to buy a Rolex which perfectly exemplifies what it was meant for regarding legibility and solid design.  

The polar dial is lacquered and features a glossy surface which enhances its brightness, especially when paired with the white applied markers that are edged with black and are filled with tritium, Luminova or Super-Luminova depending on the model. The model was made pre ‘Supercase’ era which came in 2005 meaning it isn't overly bulky. In comparison to The Submariner and GMT models like the GMT-Master II ‘The Sprite’ and the GMT-Master II ‘Pepsi’ that featured the Supercase upon its release. The model is slim with thin lugs and crown guards, giving the model a more elegant appearance which can be slipped under cuffs with ease. 

The fixed bezel is made out of stainless steel too and features a polished finish. Specifically, the bevels are enhanced due to the bezel itself being a textured polish so there's no mirror like shine, unlike the bevels which are extremely clean. The 24-hour numerals which became commonplace by The Ref 1655 are slightly bedded into the bezel and filled with black lacquer to make them cleanly stand out against the steel. 

The Oyster Bracelet is crafted out of stainless steel, with the older editions housing folded end links while the more modern versions had solid end links instead. This kind of durability is noted throughout the bracelet as the older models feature hollow middle links which does offer a retroism aspect but the newer models have advanced technology which means the bracelet is sturdier and is less likely to be affected by abrasions and dirt due to the lack of holes in the bracelet.  The clasp is obviously less engineered in older models but shouldn't give you any grief on the wrist. 

For the eagle eyed among us, you will have noticed that earlier models have drilled lug holes which give a rugged aesthetic as opposed to the more contemporary editions. Furthermore, it allows the strap to be changed effortlessly as you can use a tool to poke through the holes and in turn, release the lugs spring bar. Without these holes, the strap would need professional attention if you wanted to change it. 

Of course, the strap is already well constructed so for those who want to consider a clean aesthetic that the bevels and satin finished lugs address, it may be worth opting out of the drilled hole design when you purchase one like this. 


Technical Elements 


If you have a pre 2005 model, you are looking at the calibre 3185 while the updated model was the calibre 3186 with a Parachrom Hairspring for maximum stability so the movement isn't affected if you decide to take it out for more than just a cruise down the street. 

The Calibre 3185, has been created in-house and is an automatic movement. It’s COSC certified so it's guaranteed to enjoy first rate precision. Beating at 4Hz, the watch very competently gives accurate readings of the time. Want to look good and be on time when running for the last train? Why not look to buy a Rolex Explorer II?


Source - Fifth Wrist

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With a 50 hour power reserve, longevity is not an issue when it comes to this timepiece. In addition, the watch is built to be able to alter the date the moment the hour hands strikes midnight. Forget Cinderella, you won't be losing track of time if you buy a watch like this!


How Valuable Is The Rolex Explorer II Ref 16570?


Manufactured over a period of 22 years starting in 1989 before it was re-released in 2011, you have the option of either a black or polar white dial. The ‘Polar’ dial is more popular due to its association with Steve Mcqueen and its more fetching icy looking aesthetic with the white indices being rimmed with black edging making it a prime option when you buy a Rolex.  


Source - The Watch Club

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If you are lucky enough to land a model with tritium lume, you have successfully entered the world of ‘Neo-Vintage’. Congratulations! As all you Neo-Vintage lovers will know, tritium is old school so to get this with modern sapphire crystal is the perfect representation of a Neo-Vintage watch and can considerably increase the value as more and more collectors and enthusiasts seek out Neo-Vintage designs when they decide to buy a Rolex.

Its unique elements of a fixed bezel and the rarity of the polar white dial allow the watch to be a collector's item while still retaining its durabilities such as the Oyster bracelet and sapphire crystal. While elements like the bracelet being hollow on older models could be seen as a weakness, it also means it is lighter showing how there are pros and cons for each edition. It's therefore certainly worth your time if you are looking to buy a Rolex. If you plan to wear it around town before selling it on, why not pair it with a casual white jumper to enhance the polar dial or a cream linen suit shirt if you want a more professional look? Now is potentially a good time to sell a Rolex Explorer II 16570 if you are lucky to have one handy as they will continue to increase in price due to their Neo-Vintage status and quality build. On the other hand, you could hold on but as you well know, the watch market is unpredictable as the British weather and prices on the secondary market are doing rather well at the moment.

The Explorer II Ref 16570 is no longer being produced making it highly attractive to enthusiasts and collectors alike. It currently sells on the secondary market for upwards of £8000 - at the time of writing.




What’s our take? Well, The Explorer II Ref 16570 is certainly a worthy investment both for your personal lives or to sell on which Chrono Hunter could happily assist with here. Its Neo-Vintage design allows it to be unlike the modern timepieces from this brand that are released nowadays while still retaining important upgrades which keep it both durable and accurate. The watch's slim profile means it can be used as a dress watch as well as for its intended purpose of travelling round the harshest of environments. Ideal as an everyday driver, the rarity of the white dials in this sporty chic arena makes it an attractive proposition. It is designed off the back of The Oyster Perpetual Bubbleback which scaled Everest and we simply love its design as the perfect tool watch for those still wanting to be a bit old school. Rock on, Timelords!


Can't wait to buy a Rolex Explorer II? Don't want to miss out on the Neo-Vintage vibe when you buy a watch? Why not chat through your specific requirements with Chrono Hunter here. Still undecided? Check out our reviews on Trustpilot to find out why we really are your essential source to buy a watch or sell a watch.


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Further Reading: 

Rolex Drops Hot New 2023 Releases - Titanium Yacht Master 42, Gmt Master Ii, Daytona, 1908 And 40mm Explorer

Should You Still Buy A Rolex Submariner In 2023?


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