Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16570: The Ultimate Guide

by Barbara

Rolex, a brand synonymous with precision and adventure, has a rich heritage of crafting timepieces that accompany explorers to the farthest reaches of the Earth. Among its iconic lineup, the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 holds a special place. In this ultimate guide, we delve into the details that make this timepiece a horological classic, exploring its design, functionality, and enduring appeal.


I. Design and Heritage

1. Distinctive Orange GMT Hand: One of the most recognizable features of the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 is its distinctive orange GMT hand. This feature not only serves a practical function by indicating a second time zone but also adds a pop of color to the watch’s overall design. The orange hand against the white or black dial enhances readability and is a nod to the watch’s intended purpose as a tool for cave explorers and polar researchers.


2. 40mm Stainless Steel Case: The Explorer II maintains a modest yet robust 40mm stainless steel case, a size that strikes a balance between wearability and presence on the wrist. The case design, with its smooth lines and polished finish, reflects Rolex’s commitment to timeless aesthetics and durability.


3. Fixed 24-Hour Bezel: Featuring a fixed 24-hour bezel engraved with numerals, the Explorer II allows wearers to track a second time zone with precision. The integration of the bezel into the overall design enhances the watch’s functionality without compromising its clean and uncluttered appearance.


The design of the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 is a testament to both form and function. From the distinctive orange GMT hand to the robust stainless steel case and practical 24-hour bezel, every element reflects Rolex’s dedication to creating watches that are not only tools for exploration but also timeless expressions of craftsmanship.

II. Functionality and Precision

1. GMT Functionality: At the heart of the Explorer II is its GMT function, allowing wearers to track a second time zone concurrently. The orange GMT hand circles the dial every 24 hours, enabling easy differentiation between day and night in the additional time zone. This functionality caters to the needs of globetrotters and individuals engaged in activities spanning different time zones.

2. Caliber 3185 Movement: Powering the Explorer II is Rolex’s caliber 3185 movement, known for its reliability and precision. The self-winding movement features a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, enhancing the watch’s resistance to shocks and ensuring accurate timekeeping in various conditions.

3. Oyster Case and Twinlock Crown: The watch boasts Rolex’s signature Oyster case, providing water resistance up to 100 meters. The Twinlock crown, known for its double waterproofness system, adds an extra layer of protection against water intrusion. This combination of features makes the Explorer II not just a GMT watch but also a rugged and reliable timekeeping instrument.

The Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 is more than a stylish accessory; it’s a precision instrument designed for those who navigate different time zones and challenging environments. With GMT functionality, a robust movement, and the renowned Oyster case, the Explorer II exemplifies Rolex’s commitment to functionality and precision.

III. Evolution and Collectibility

1. Transition from Tritium to Luminova: Early versions of the Explorer II ref. 16570 featured tritium luminescent material on the dial, later replaced by luminova. Collectors often seek the tritium-dial models for their vintage appeal, representing a specific era in Rolex’s production history.

2. Polar and Black Dial Options: The Explorer II is available in both polar white and black dial options. The polar dial, with its white background, exudes a clean and modern aesthetic, while the black dial offers a classic and versatile look. Collectors may favor one over the other based on personal preferences and rarity.

3. Rolex Explorer II “Steve McQueen” Connection: The Explorer II ref. 16570 is sometimes associated with the “King of Cool,” Steve McQueen. While McQueen was known to wear a different Rolex model, the Explorer II’s rugged design and functionality align with the actor’s adventurous spirit, adding to its desirability among enthusiasts.

The evolution of the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 adds layers to its collectibility. From the transition in luminescent material to the choice between polar and black dials, each variation tells a unique story. The subtle connection to Steve McQueen further enhances the watch’s allure, making it a sought-after piece among collectors.

IV. Enduring Legacy and Timeless Appeal

1. Tool Watch Aesthetics: Despite its GMT functionality, the Explorer II maintains a tool watch aesthetic. The simplicity of the design, coupled with practical features, positions it as a reliable companion for explorers and adventurers. The lack of a cyclops magnification lens on the date window adds to its utilitarian charm.

2. Versatile Style: The versatile style of the Explorer II makes it suitable for various occasions. Whether paired with casual attire or worn during more formal events, the watch effortlessly adapts to different settings. Its timeless appeal lies in its ability to transcend trends and remain a classic choice for watch enthusiasts.

3. Investment Value: Over the years, the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 has proven to be a solid investment. As a discontinued model, its scarcity on the market has contributed to an increase in value, making it a desirable choice for those looking to invest in a timepiece with enduring worth.

The enduring legacy of the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 is rooted in its tool watch aesthetics, versatile style, and investment value. As a timepiece that embodies the spirit of exploration, it continues to capture the hearts of watch enthusiasts who appreciate its timeless appeal and the craftsmanship synonymous with the Rolex name.

V. Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Is the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 a discontinued model?

A1: Yes, the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 has been discontinued. It has been succeeded by newer models, but its enduring popularity has made it a sought-after collector’s item.

Q2: What is the significance of the orange GMT hand on the Explorer II?

A2: The orange GMT hand serves a dual purpose. It not only indicates a second time zone but also adds a distinctive and recognizable element to the watch’s design.

Q3: Are there specific variations of the Explorer II ref. 16570 that are more collectible?

A3: Collectors often seek early models with tritium dials for their vintage appeal. Additionally, variations with polar or black dials may be preferred based on personal taste and rarity.

Q4: How water-resistant is the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570?

A4: The Explorer II ref. 16570 features Rolex’s signature Oyster case, providing water resistance up to 100 meters. The Twinlock crown enhances the watch’s resistance to water intrusion.

Q5: Does the Explorer II ref. 16570 come with a cyclops magnification lens on the date window?

A5: No, the Explorer II ref. 16570 does not feature a cyclops magnification lens on the date window. This design choice contributes to its tool watch aesthetics.

In conclusion, the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570 stands as a testament to Rolex’s commitment to precision, functionality, and enduring style. Its distinctive design, coupled with practical features, has secured its place as a coveted collector’s item with a rich history and timeless appeal.


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