Rolex has updated its most extreme adventurer watch to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
This year is one of Rolex’s perennial professional watches, the 50th anniversary of the birth of Explorer II for speleologists, which came out in 1971. Given its 50th anniversary, we look forward to seeing the new version we predicted in the article this year. So, here is the new Rolex Explorer II reference. 226570. To be honest, there are not many new things, because the proportions and the dial are almost the same. The main update involves the inclusion of new sports.
A brief history of the Rolex EXPLORER II
Like most of the names Rolex chooses for its watches, Explorer really speaks for itself. Like all other members of the professional series, this watch debuted in 1953 as a timepiece designed for explorers, mountaineers, mountaineers and pioneers of all kinds. In short, this is a durable, simple and easy-to-read watch.
In 1971, Rolex launched another Explorer watch, Explorer II. This watch did not replace the original model, but was tied with it in the series. If the first one is already focused, then Explorer II is clearly one of the smallest models in the Crown. With its larger, more robust case, plus a 24-hour bezel and additional time zone, Explorer II is destined to be designed for adventurers who can’t distinguish between day and night—think mine explorers or speleologists. However, the good point is that this watch seems to be usable under different conditions.
The first watch of the Rolex Explorer II was launched in 1971 with the model number 1655. It is equipped with a 40 mm stainless steel case, and its main feature is a fixed radial brushed steel bezel engraved with a 24-hour scale-and it is fixed, which is different from the GMT-Master. Used in conjunction with the large central GMT pointer, it is easy to distinguish between AM and PM time. It should be noted that the Explorer II 1655 is not a dual time watch, because the 24-hour hand is combined with the traditional hour hand. It is just a 24-hour indication. The first iteration of the 1655 had an orange 24-hour hand; later models featured red. Another very unique point of the first generation is that its dial is painted with tritium markings, including an oversized triangle at 12 o’clock-this is the unique layout of the 1655. Inside is the Rolex calibre 1575, which is the same as the movement of contemporary GMT-Master watches. With small changes over the years, this watch was produced for a long time from 1971 to 1985.
The first evolution of the Rolex Explorer II appeared in 1985, with the reference number 16550… This may mark the largest update of this model. The difference is not only related to technology, but also related to design. For example, the movement is now a 3085 movement, and the 24-hour hand can be set independently. This means that Explorer II has become a dual time zone watch-and GMT-Master has become a three time zone watch. The case is still 40 mm, with a sapphire crystal mirror, but the bezel is still fixed and drawn radially, and is transformed with inverted triangle markings and more eye-catching numbers. Finally, the dials that are now available in black and white have become more traditional, consistent with other Rolex sports watches-this means Mercedes hands, smaller 24-hour hands and triangles, circles and rectangles filled with tritium Time scale. Therefore, this watch is more like a sturdy globetrotter watch, no longer focusing on speleology and cave exploration. The Rolex Explorer II 16550 was discontinued in 1989.
The next model was called Explorer II 16570 and was launched in 1989. Evolution is soft, retaining most of the features on the 16550. It first appeared on the new calibre 3185, and then on the 3186 movement. The white “extreme” dial is equipped with black outline hands and markers (no longer silver). Except for the evolution of the movement, the réhaut engraved by Rolex, and the changes from tritium to LumiNova to SLN, 16570 has remained the same for 22 years-with black or white dials to choose from.
The latest update of the Rolex Explorer II occurred in 2011, and the model number is 216570. Coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the advent of the series, this watch pays tribute to the earliest generation with an oversized orange 24-hour hand. The case becomes larger, reaching 42 mm, and the radially drawn bezel remains fixed, but the markings are more eye-catching. From a mechanical point of view, this 216570 is equipped with a 3187 movement, which is also equipped with an independent double hour hand. As the case evolved, the dial became “Maxi” with oversized luminous markings and hands-like, really oversized… the white version retains the black outline markings, while the black version has platinum markings . Like all predecessors, it is waterproof to 100 meters.
Today, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the birth of this highly specialized watch, Rolex announced the launch of a new generation of Explorer II, which means that the model 216570 has now been discontinued.
New Rolex EXPLORER II 226570
Let’s make a quick summary. What’s new in the Rolex Explorer II 226570? Well, in most cases, there is a new movement-as you would expect. There are some minor updates to the dial and hands. The crystal is different, but the case has also been reworked in a rather discreet way. All in all, this is an updated model, not a new iteration in fact.
Starting from the case, the new Rolex Explorer II 226570 retains the 42 mm diameter of the previous generation, as well as the brushed top surface and polished strap. The crown is still Twinlock, still protected by the crown guard, and the waterproof rating is still 100 meters. However, the Oystersteel case has been slightly redesigned, the lugs are thinner, and the case is thinner, consistent with the 2020 Submariner.
One of the iconic elements of this watch, the radially brushed bezel with a 24-hour scale, has also been retained. The font of the numbers is the same, and the inverted triangle is still there. We somehow expect the ceramic bezel to be part of this update, but apparently, Rolex still believes in the Explorer II steel.
For the dial, the new 226570 retains two classic white or black lacquered dial options. Although the so-called “maxi” layout is retained, with oversized hands and markers, some subtle changes have also been noticed, mainly the white dial version. In fact, the hands are white gold with a matte black PVD coating to avoid reflections and improve legibility. The black dial version retains polished platinum markers and hands. Rolex mentioned that time scales and hands now benefit from an optimized Chromalight display. During the day, these display elements also have a brighter white hue, and the intensity of the blue light emitted by the hour markers and hands now lasts longer.
As an iconic element of Explorer II, this new 226570 retains its oversized central Greenwich Mean Time hands and is coated with an orange coating. It can be used not only as a day and night indicator, but also as a second time zone. Above the dial is a sapphire crystal mirror, which now has an anti-reflective coating. The iconic magnifying glass on the date still exists.
The main update concerns the movement, which is part of the 32xx generation and shared with GMT-Master II. This 3285 movement is equipped with Chronergy escapement and blue Parachrome hairspring. It beats at a frequency of 4 Hz and stores a power reserve of up to 70 hours. As mentioned earlier, it is a dual-time movement that can independently adjust the hands corresponding to the local time.
As for the bracelet, there is no major update. It is still in Oystersteel, fully brushed, equipped with Oyster folding safety clasp and Easylink comfortable extension link (approximately 5 mm).
Technical specifications-Rolex EXPLORER II REF. 226570
Case: 42 mm diameter-Oystersteel case, brushed and polished-Brushed stainless steel bezel-Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating-Screw-in double lock crown-Screw-in case back-Water resistance to 100 meters
Dial: Black or white lacquered dial-Apply platinum PVD painted black or white gold hour markers and hands-Chromalight on hands and hour markers
Movement: Homemade 3285 calibre-top observatory-automatic winding-31 rubies-28,800 times/hour-blue Parachrom hairspring and Chronergy escapement-70 hours power reserve-horizontal balance bridge-hours, minutes, Seconds, date and independent second time zone
Bracelet: Oyster-style brushed Oystersteel bracelet-Oyster-style folding safety clasp-Easylink comfortable extension link (approximately 5 mm)