Saturday, December 15, 2012

Rolex Explorer II review ... well sort off.....

Again not really a review, but more of a small review or personal opinion.....

The Rolex Explorer II reference 16570T. This is the Z series watch, so it is from 2006. This is the third iteration of the Explorer II. 

The Explorer II was launched in 1971 and its target market were people who were exposed to long periods of darkness like spelunkers. These people can lose the track of time or day or night because they spend long period of time in the dark. That is why the watch does not come with a rotating bezel. I guess this watch would also work for people who work long hours in the day like in Alaska or at the poles?

In 1982, the reference 16550 replaced the original Explorer II (reference 1655) and the watch was offered with a choice of white dial or black dial. The original 1655 was only available with black dial. The white dial is more popularly known as the polar (due the whiteness of the dial) and the black? 

This reference 16570 was introduced in 1989. It was fitted with the new Rolex caliber 3185. This lasted to 2007 (2006?) when the improved caliber 3186 was used. The difference? Improved wheel train with tighter tolerances and the introduction of the Rolex in-house Parachrom Blu hairspring. 

Now the interesting bit. Is this watch fitted with the new 3186 or older 3185 movement (which to me are both great movement). I did not check (sadly), but there are a number of ways to check. I have seen later Z series watches with the 3186 movement and yet I have seen the later M series watches with the 3185 movement.

The best way will be to bring it to Rolex and have them open up the case back and check. The other two ways are:

1. The wiggle test. Pull the crown out one notch and rotate the crown forward and backwards. The 3186 with its better tolerances, you will not see the 'jiggle' of the red 24 hour hand. It will 'jiggle' on the 3185.

2. Pull the crown out one notch. Rotate the crown 1 rotation. Count the number of times the hour hand jump. If it jumps 5 times, it is the caliber 3185. If it jumps 8 times, it is the caliber 3186.

Anyway, on to the watch. The watch, as in all Rolex, features the Rolex 904L stainless steel case and bezel (and case back). The case is well made as is the bezel. Again it is a three piece case design. The case is polished at the sides and brushed at the top of the lugs. Fit and tolerances are just awesome. Finish is just as great. 

Measurements, bezel diameter is 39 mm, Bezel and crown is 42.5 mm while the case itself is 38 mm in diameter. Lug width is 20 mm and the lug to lug measurement is 51 mm. The watch is 13 mm thick at the cyclops and 12 mm without. A very comfortable watch and can be worn in most if not all occasions.

The bezel features a sunburst finish. The fonts are engraved/ etched and filled black. Reading it at a glance is easy.

The dial is white with blacken white gold surrounds at the hour markers as are the standard Mercedes hands. The hour marker at the 12 o'clock position is a triangle, which makes it easy to note the orientation of the watch when telling the time in the dark. The 24 hour hand is coloured red and has a triangle tip. Telling time is easy as the minute hand extends to the minute chapter.

The legends you find on the dial is standard Rolex, Crown, Rolex signature, Oyster Perpetual Date and model at the 12 o'clock position. The fact that the watch is COSC rated is proudly stated above the 6 o'clock hour marker. 

The date window is at the 3 o'clock position. The watch features a 'quick set' date mechanism. It is not as quick in standard Rolex watches as you need to adjust the hour hand two rotation (24 hours) for the date to change. Best part is you can adjust the date forwards or backwards dependent on which way you are traveling across the International Date Line. The other things is that when you are adjusting the time or date, time keeping is not impacted as the watch (or minute and seconds hand) is running.

The crown is easy to use. It has the standard shoulder protector featured in most of Rolex sports watches. The crown is 5.5 mm in diameter and is 2.5 mm thick. The crown has 3 positions. Unlock to wind the movement, pull out one notch to adjust the date and hour hands and a second notch to adjust the 24 hour hand.

The watch features the twin lock crown. This shows that the watch is rated to 10 ATM or 100 M. You know from the underline below the Rolex crown. This marking is however not standard across the Rolex model and is dependent on the material of the case. On gold models, it is 2 dots while on platinum watches, it is 1 dot. 

Standard unmarked Rolex case back. Brushed in the middle and polished at the sides. 

Rolex new solid end links. I personally like the drilled lugs but the new solid end links are an improvement over the older end links. The lugs, without the lug holes. 

The solid end links.

The links and bracelet are unmarked. It is marked on the inside of the end links. You have to remove the end links to check the bracelet reference. In this case, the watch is fitted with reference 78790A bracelet.

The simple yet reliable Rolex tuna can clasp. A thin stainless steel metal stamped Rolex. :)

The oyster clasp. It allows adjustment of length over 5 holes or 14 mm. Simple and easy. The clasp does not feature a diver extension as it is not a diver watch. 

The clasp itself is shorter compared to the Submariner clasp. The oyster bracelet features a brushed finish with polished sides.

The sapphire crystal measures 30 mm across and is great as there is a large expanse of the dial. There is a cyclops over the date window and it does help to magnify the date by a factor of 2.5 times. Good for old folks like me (although I don't really like the cyclops).

The watch features the engraved rehaut or rehaut branding. At the 12 o'clock position, you find the Rolex crown and 'ROLEX' engraved/ etched on both sides of the crown (5 on each side) and the serial number at the 6 o'clock position. The interesting thing is, the serial number is also engraved between the lugs. 

How to use the watch? Well most people I know use the red 24 hour hand to track GMT while some use it to track home time (in 24 hours so that they know if it night or day) and the normal hands to track local time (where ever they are). 

It is indeed a beautiful watch, well made, comfortable and easy to use and at current prices a bargain. Who knows, maybe one day I might get one myself....


  1. Nioce detail review Ivan... are you sure about these 2006 models and up use the 904L stainless steel?

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