Rolex Debuts Explorer II Model in 1971

April 12, 2016

Rolex released the Explorer II model in 1971, almost twenty years after its predecessor. Although it shared a name with the Explorer, this wristwatch resembled the GMT-Master much more in terms of function and style - it actually used the same movement as the GMT-Master, either a calibre 1570 or 1575.
First Rolex Explorer Model, 1971 (photo: Rolex)
This professional wristwatch was originally marketed for scientists and explorers, such as speleologists, who easily lost track of day and night while performing research in caves. The original Explorer II had a 40mm case with a 24 hour fixed bezel and an orange 24 hour hand, as shown in the photo above.

For its 40th anniversary in 2011, the Explorer II was reintroduced with a 42mm case and a new 3187 movement. However, this model has changed very little through the years. The current model, shown below, is made with Rolex's 904l stainless steel alloy with a satin finish. It is available with a black dial and orange 24 hour hand, just like the original and the famed Steve McQueen version of the Explorer II.

photo of current Rolex Explorer II model
Rolex Explorer II (photo: Rolex)
The Explorer II is often overlooked amidst the fanfare that surrounds the more popular Rolex models, such as the Submariner and Daytona. However, its longevity on the market and consistent design and functionality makes it a classic.


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