Considering that it's been a while since we last published a hands-on review of a modern Rolex timepiece, we decided to work on this special review of what we consider to be our favorite modern era Rolex watch. As you all know, Rolex is the typical gateway to the luxury watch category and a brand with the highest 'top of mind' in the luxury watch world. Additionally, Rolex ranks as one of the top five most valuable brands when it comes to luxury goods. But, what makes Rolex so special and successful? There's only one good answer to this question: their watches are consistently well made and built to last a lifetime —not to mention, that their marketing and branding strategy is simply flawless. Well, even with all that, in our case, our love for the brand started to diminish as a result of the natural evolution that watch collectors go through, but we also became less interested in modern Rolexes as their watches became flashier and less 'toolish'. However, if we can pick one watch out of Rolex's current line-up that maintains most of the essence of the vintage Rolexes that made us fall in love with the brand more than 20 years ago, is the Explorer II ref. 216570 White dial a.k.a Polar.
The Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 is available with white or black dial. For us, the white dial not only offers better readability but is also way nicer than its black counterpart The glossy white dial features markers with black surrounds, black hour/minute/seconds hands and a bright orange 24-hour hand that adds perfect contrast against the white background.
This useful hand —an homage to the legendary ref. 1655 a.k.a Steve McQueen Explorer II from the 70s—, allows the wearer to keep track of time in two different time zones or simply know whether its day or night while exploring a cave or visiting the arctic circle —where the sun never sets during the summer months. By pulling the winding crown out to the first position, the wearer can move the black hour hand independently to set the home time and to set the date forward or backwards. Then by pulling the crown to the second position, the wearer can set the time as he/she would on any regular watch and sync its orange hand to work as a military time indicator.
The markers and hands are coated with Chromalight —Rolex's proprietary luminescent coating— to provide bright long lasting readability in low-light environments or at night. This new blue lume is extremely powerful and exceptional in appearance.
The Rolex Explorer II was first released in 1971 and today, after a couple of makeovers through four decades, is still a robust highly refined tool made to last a lifetime. The watch of choice for speleologists, volcanologists and polar and jungle explorers. Fitted with a 904L stainless steel case in a larger size than most other Rolex sports models, its case measures 42 mm in diameter and 13 mm in thickness; therefore, the Explorer II ref. 216570 is more robust and more of a 'tool' watch. Maintaining the cues of the previous generations of the Rolex Explorer II, the watch is equipped with the signature twinlock screw-down crown easily identifiable by the dash under the Rolex coronet. Thanks to its Oyster case and twinlock crown, the Explorer II ref. 216570 is waterproof to a 100 meters.
Yet, another big difference between the Explorer II ref. 216570 and other Rolex sports models, is the lack of polished center links on its Oyster bracelet, allowing for a more 'toolish' look. The bracelet is of very solid construction and is fitted with the folding Oysterlock safety clasp and with the Easylink system. This system, allows the wearer to extend the last link on the bracelet by 5 mm for when those wrists start to swell up with the heat and humidity in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle.
Equipped with a 24-hour fixed graduated bezel with a perfect satin brushed finish, the wearer can distinguish day and nighttime when the 24-hour hand remains synchronized with the hour hand. Additionally, this allows the wearer to keep track of a second time zone when the hour and 24-hour are set independently.
The Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 White Dial a.k.a Polar is powered by the Rolex automatic in-house calibre 3187. This movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex is one of the most robust and accurate calibres out there. The calibre 3187 is fitted with a Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers, offering greater resistance to shocks and to extreme conditions. Like all Rolex Perpetual movements, the 3187 is a certified Swiss chronometer, a designation reserved for high-precision watches that have successfully passed the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute —COSC— tests.
On the Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the watch wears true to its size and extremely comfortably. This is the type of watch that one dreams of wearing while visiting the North Pole for a polar bear sighting expedition or down at the Amazonian rain forests. Summing it up, to us, this is the only modern era Rolex that is a 'must have'. In an era of cerachrom bezels and highly polished links, the Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 is the only Rolex that still stays true to the 'toolish' origins of the brand.
Sticker Price $8,100 USD. For more info on Rolex click here.