Rolex Explorer II (reference 1655), originally only available in a black-faced version, is designed to satisfy cave explorers who are constantly active in the dark and cannot distinguish between day and night. This explains why a clear orange fourth-largest pointer is combined with a 24-hour outer ring to inform the morning and afternoon. This design was nicknamed ‘freccione’ by the Italian collectors in the 1990s, meaning the big arrow.
I have to admit that this watch has a narrow audience. When Explorer II was first released in 1971, it was natural to think that Rolex should at least take into account other professional explorers so that they could also benefit from this design.
The earliest Rolex Reference 1665 Explorer 2 was nicknamed ‘Freccione’ by Italian collectors, meaning big arrow. © Antiquorum
From 1971 to the present, plus the new version released this year, Explorer 2 has only been improved 3 times. In 1985, Rolex released Ref. 16550, which is the first choice of black and white surface. At the same time, the new movement brings the function of fast-adjusting the date and setting the 24-hour indicator in different time zones. The 16550 watch also incorporates sapphire crystal and an upgraded lettering bezel. The unique and subtle design of the hands also complements other Rolex sports models. Reference 1655’s pointer design is unique in the entire series.
The white surface of the Reference 16550 has changed over time, and since 1989 the new movement appears from the second time zone indication on the surface. © Antiquorum
These time-honored details are repeated on Rolex’s Reference 16570 introduced in 1989; the difference between the black-faced Reference 16550 and Reference 16570 is difficult to recognize to the naked eye. And with the white surface Reference 16550 is naturally more obvious. The 16550 white surface is smooth and delicate due to the delicate coating. In addition, the white version changed the light-colored pointer to black-the platinum pointer accompanies the light-colored surface and it is really difficult to see the time.
Rolex watch enthusiasts pay a large price for some ‘disadvantages’ such as the white surface of Reference 16550. Rolex has become a brand of perfection and traditional endorsement, so every small change such as the color of surface materials will make the world crazy.
Reference 16570 (just a slight adjustment based on Reference, with the original color on the surface) will be discontinued this year or next. © Rolex
40 becomes 42
The References 1655, 16550, and 16570 all use 40mm caliber cases, just like the Rolex GMT-Master, Daytona, Water Ghost and Sea-Dweller. But the new Explorer 2 brings an enhanced 42 mm case, making it the largest of all the aforementioned models, but 2 mm smaller than the Voyager 2 and DeepSea watches.
There is no doubt that many Rolex fans love the new large case, but I still think that if the brand can easily attract the attention of the Explorer 2 with the 2mm, it will overwhelm the best-selling models in this sports series.
Of course, whether Rolex’s masterpieces are closely linked with the company’s watch production like oyster-like cases and water-this is the part we cannot know.
When the new 42 mm Caliber Explorer 2 (ref. 216570) is released at the official Rolex retail store, it will undoubtedly become the focus of the world.