VIDEO: The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 is the unsung hero in the Professional series VIDEO: The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 is the unsung hero in the Professional series

VIDEO: The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 is the unsung hero in the Professional series

Thor Svaboe

Each of the models in the Rolex Professional series is a tool watch made for a man on a mission. While the Submariner and Sea-Dweller are diving watches, the Rolex Explorer II was originally built in 1971 for speleologists or cave explorers who required a sturdy, functional and highly legible watch while working in almost total darkness.  Fortunately, it’s proven to be sufficiently versatile for other pursuits.  The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 is the model’s most recent incarnation and, if you know Rolex by their divers, you’ll be surprised by its no-nonsense toughness, instrument-like dial, and crisp black and white hand set. My favourite detail? That would have to be the big orange GMT arrow.

The 42mm case is true to its size and, while the black dial version might slim it down a tad, the polar white dial here is intensely legible and perfectly balanced.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570

There’s something alluring about the perfect whiteness of the dial surface which, with its chunky indices framed in black, works so well with the black Mercedes hands. It might all have been a bit too perfect and monochrome had it not been for the zingy EXPLORER II wording and GMT hand that are both coloured in bright orange. The details are as intricate as the juxtaposition to the black and white is sharp.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570

You’ll find the Explorer II on page 1 of the ABC of legibility such is the dial’s exquisite balance.  The quick hour adjust works like a charm and the date can also be advanced forward using this feature. So yes, it’s a perfect travel watch.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570

The Oyster bracelet is not a groundbreaking design today, but like the chunky case is a perfect blend of solidity and  near perfect comfort – you’ll be hard pressed to make it exhibit even the slightest amount of flex over time. Thankfully for what is not a small watch, the bracelet ergonomically tapers from 21mm at the lug to a svelte 17mm at the clasp. The 5mm flexibility of the Easylink system makes adjustments, well, easy, and we could happily proclaim it one of the best bracelets of all time without causing a ruckus.The same goes for the case and, while I’d love it to be 38-40mm and slimmer, it befits its purpose and is as annoyingly perfect as the bracelet.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570

The movement might not be brand new, but the 3187 caliber befits its chronometer certification while the Paraflex system that makes it resistant to shocks reinforces its tool-watch credentials.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570

For me, the ultimate non-diver Rolex is probably the vintage 1655 Explorer II, but left with rare vintage frailty at close to three times the cost of a black or white dial Explorer II, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with this. If I were you I’d be sorely tempted to try on this 42mm polar white tool watch, but I might leave my credit cards at home.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 price and availability: 

The Rolex Explorer II is available for inquires at authorised dealers worldwide for an RRP of $11,700AUD. Alternatively, Bob’s Watches has you got you covered with one of the world’s biggest selections of new, used and pre-owned Rolex watches. Check out their range here.

This story is part of a partnership with Bob’s Watches. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.