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The New Rolex Explorer II (Ref. 226570)


Always"watching"
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In the fifty years since the first iteration of the Rolex Explorer II in 1971, there have been a total of four generations of the type, and I have never made a secret of the fact that the fourth and last generation (Ref. 216570, launched in 2011), in its white dial guise, is my favourite Rolex watch both past and present and one that I regard as something of a masterpiece. Now, ten years after its introduction, and marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Explorer II, the fourth generation model gives way to a new version of the watch, and I am left at the beginning of this topic, wondering if I will like the new Explorer II as much as its immediate predecessor.

The first thing that needs to be said about the new Explorer II (Ref. 226570) in its relationship with its immediate predecessor is that there is no hiatus between the two watches, and one can breathe a sigh of relief that Rolex has chosen continuity rather than wholesale change. The really important change concerns what is inside the watch, the main update being the incorporation of an in-house movement new to the Explorer II, about which more will be said below.

 

 

 

Fourth generation Explorer II on the left, and on the right, the new Explorer II which replaces it (pic from The Watchfinder):

ezgif-2-36b12cfd1200.thumb.jpg.48a6145024f85ec0443159a0df860ade.jpg

 

 

 

 

Before looking at the movement, some details need to be given about the other revisions made to the Explorer II Ref. 216570 in order to refresh the type on its fiftieth anniversary. In fact, as I have already indicated, the most iconic features of the model have been retained. Thus, we find the watch still has a 42 mm case with brushed top surfaces and polished casebands though there has been a subtle redesign to give thinner lugs and slimmer case proportions, in line with the Submariner of 2020. The radial-brushed fixed steel bezel with a 24 hour scale has thankfully been retained in all its glory (contrary to speculation that a ceramic bezel would be introduced), including the bezel triangles and (with the same font) the numerals, still recessed and blackened. The crown remains a screw-down Twinlock and is still protected by crown guards, and the sapphire crystal, now anti-reflective coated, still has the cyclops magnifier (which in the Explorer II, I can forgive). The watch is still rated at 100 metres water resistance.

Moving on to the dial and hands, the new Ref. 226570 immediately reveals itself to be only subtly different from the previous model, even to the retention of the classic white or black only lacquered dial options. The so-called “maxi” layout of the dial has been retained from the previous model, with “oversized” hands and markers, and the changes are more technical than aesthetic, affecting mostly the white dial colourway. Thus, the hands on the white dial colourway are now white gold with a matte black PVD coating to avoid reflections and enhance legibility, while the black dial colourway has all white gold hands. According to Rolex, the indexes and hands now benefit from an optimized Chromalight lume display that provides a brighter white hue in daylight and a longer lasting intense blue glow in darkness. A final dial and hands feature that marked out the fourth generation Explorer II - the oversized orange-coated GMT hand - has also been retained, acting as a day-night indicator or as a second time-zone.

 

 

 

The white dial colourway of the new Explorer II (three pics from Hodinkee):

ratio_1_m226570-0001_2101uf_003.thumb.jpg.08f725c75015913937961ee06cf483d7.jpg

ratio_1_m226570-0001_2103jva_001.thumb.jpg.9e0ac195525249cc67df111097787611.jpg

ratio_175_m226570-0001_2101uf_001.thumb.jpg.d6646220d2879eb183c8f72681fd011a.jpg

 

 

 

 

There have been no major updates to the Oystersteel bracelet; it is still fully brushed and equipped with an Oysterlock folding safety clasp and Easylink comfort extension system providing quick 5 mm adjustments.

For generation four of the Explorer II, Rolex created a movement specifically to fit the 42 mm case - the caliber 3187. For the new generation of Explorer II, Rolex has managed to fit an existing in-house movement - caliber 3285 - into the watch without the need to create a separate caliber. The automatic caliber 3285 was launched in 2018 inside the GMT-Master II, and its most notable feature as far as would-be purchasers of the new Explorer II are concerned is probably the long power reserve of 70 hours. The movement, which runs at 4 Hz, also has 31 jewels, a Chronergy escapement, a blue Parachron balance spring, and Paraflex shock absorbers, increasing its efficiency and accuracy. The new Explorer II has chronometer certification as a Superlative Chronometer, and to mark the movement upgrade, Rolex has placed a small coronet at the bottom of the dial in the 6 o’clock position.

 

 

 

The black dial colourway of the new Rolex Explorer II and a wrist shot of the white dial version (pics from Monochrome Watches):

Rolex-Explorer-II-226570-2021-7.thumb.jpg.6337996933864502853d9e2133511586.jpg

2021-Rolex-Explorer-II-226570-black-hands-on-2.thumb.jpg.24716b231534bf1085fefad76097baf6.jpg

2021-Rolex-Explorer-II-226570-Polar-white-hands-on-1.thumb.jpg.f9c1e2048579c751694ddcbeca03fa0d.jpg

 

 

 

In April of this year, The Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570 had a provisional price for either colourway of EUR 8,050/US$8,550. As of this month (July 2021), I note that my local Rolex dealership, Brufords in Eastbourne, has the watch priced at £6,800, but the dealers selling on Chrono24 seem to be pricing the watch at between about £10,000 and £11,000; has there been a sudden price hike at Rolex? In terms of a successful accession to the Explorer II throne, I am happy with the upgrades and modifications that Rolex has made to the Mk 4 Explorer II. The 50th anniversary has brought the continuation of a recognisable line of succession and has kept what was best about the previous model. The new Explorer II is no less a masterpiece than the Explorer II it replaces. Indeed, I can only say, with some relief, “The King is dead... Long live the King”.

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21 minutes ago, richy176 said:

Aaaagh - @Always"watching"I really enjoy your articles but that white face Explorer II is just about the only Rolex that I would buy and you have revived my desire for one. I got lots of strange stares  when I was walking around Sainsbury chanting "I do not need another watch". :OyVey:

Would be nice indeed but you may have more chance of winning the lottery than getting a SS professional Rolex these days.

Apparently I'm still on the 'waiting list' at my local AD for past 7 months now. I'm sure they just tell me that for entertainment purposes....

I requested an alternative to the Explorer 2, basically any SS sports watch and the response was: we will add you to the waiting list for all of them lol.

Might buy a lotto ticket for Saturday's draw...

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Is it just me or do ch24 massively hike the prices of all their watches?

It seems that they think they have some sort of 'image of prestige' and everything they sell is just 'so much better' than other watch sellers. (cue fainting virgins wearing a watch falling slomo into fields of butterflys.. "this watch is not just any watch.. this watch is a Chrono24 watch.. especially selected for you..)

I think ch24 have their heads firmly pushed so far inside that they can't even kiss it anymore. Exquisite! Prestige! Shiny! Boak!

Am I being too harsh?

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8 hours ago, SolaVeritate said:

Is it just me or do ch24 massively hike the prices of all their watches?

It seems that they think they have some sort of 'image of prestige' and everything they sell is just 'so much better' than other watch sellers. (cue fainting virgins wearing a watch falling slomo into fields of butterflys.. "this watch is not just any watch.. this watch is a Chrono24 watch.. especially selected for you..)

I think ch24 have their heads firmly pushed so far inside that they can't even kiss it anymore. Exquisite! Prestige! Shiny! Boak!

Am I being too harsh?

Ch24 have nothing to do with it they just sit back and take their % and do nothing more than they need to (as you will find out if you have a problem)

Their vendors can advertise any prices they like but have to compete with other vendors.   Any common watch order the search results cheapest first and you should have some competitively priced watches and may even be able to negotiate further. 

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8 hours ago, SolaVeritate said:

Is it just me or do ch24 massively hike the prices of all their watches?

It seems that they think they have some sort of 'image of prestige' and everything they sell is just 'so much better' than other watch sellers. (cue fainting virgins wearing a watch falling slomo into fields of butterflys.. "this watch is not just any watch.. this watch is a Chrono24 watch.. especially selected for you..)

I think ch24 have their heads firmly pushed so far inside that they can't even kiss it anymore. Exquisite! Prestige! Shiny! Boak!

Am I being too harsh?

Like all big companies C24 have marketing departments that do occasionally overload on buzz words, but as @Daveyboyz says they don't set the prices.  Well, they never used to but now they are starting to stock watches themselves which changes their market position - do they have programs spotting if a watch is listed under value and they buy it before the listing is offered to anyone else?  

 

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18 hours ago, rhaythorne said:

Ignoring the text and looking just at the picture:

  • The hands and hour markers are far bolder
  • Different font on the date wheel
  • The lugs are more tapered

Everything seems a bit bolder, the wording on the dial, the indices, even the shadow on the crown - which makes me wonder whether it’s actually bolder or just the picture.

Good spot on the date font though - tiniest little flicks on the two I had completely missed.

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22 hours ago, Craftycockney said:

 

Apparently I'm still on the 'waiting list' at my local AD for past 7 months now. I'm sure they just tell me that for entertainment purposes....

I requested an alternative to the Explorer 2, basically any SS sports watch and the response was: we will add you to the waiting list for all of them lol.

Apologies if I am being impolite  but were you asked to put down a deposit on the Rolex? I had thought of putting my name on the waiting list for an Oyster Perpetual.

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Many thanks for all your responses. I have not answered or given a reaction to all of them in lieu of thanking everyone individually because there are some arguments I do not know enough about to comment on or react to; the most notable of these concerns the pricing of the watch by various dealers and waiting lists for Rolex watches.

One issue I will just clarify, raised by @Bobby123, concerns the visual differences between the new Explorer II and the previous model, especially with reference to the picture of both models side by side. In fact, I believe that the two pictures well illustrate how Rolex have improved the legibility of the watch in the new model, which in the white dial colourway now has matte black PVD coated white gold hands to counter reflections, as well as an anti-reflective coating on the crystal. Note that in terms of visual differences between the two models, @rhaythorne summed these up quite well, so thanks to him, especially for spotting the slight difference in number font between the two watches which was not mentioned in the sources I used to compile the review.

My feelings about the 100 metre water resistance tend towards acceptance of this in the new Explorer II, as per @deano1956. However, in reflection, I do wonder why Rolex didn't up the ante and go for 200 metres as @Rotundus rather graphically indicated would have been his preference, and not to forget @Jet Jetski who suggested the change could have been made to 200 metres WR relatively painlessly.

Finally, I smiled at the point raised by @spinynorman indicating that surely the new watch should be called the Explorer III, just as I smiled at this when reading up the history of the type. For me personally, I am pleased that Rolex decided to retain the Explorer II as the name of a type rather than a model; had they done otherwise they might have been sorely tempted to make major changes to the watch in line with changing the type to Explorer III. As it is, the new Explorer II remains for me a thing of beauty and still a crowning achievement in watch design.

 

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On 23/07/2021 at 16:30, chas g said:

Apologies if I am being impolite  but were you asked to put down a deposit on the Rolex? I had thought of putting my name on the waiting list for an Oyster Perpetual.

No I was never asked to put a deposit down unfortunately. I definitely would have if asked just so I knew they would have taken my interest seriously. 

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40 minutes ago, Craftycockney said:

No I was never asked to put a deposit down unfortunately. I definitely would have if asked just so I knew they would have taken my interest seriously. 

Did they give you any indication how long would have to wait? I must say that searching online I am not impressed by the number of 2021 rolex watches that are being offered for sale at way above rrp. People have obviously bought them, left them stickered up and punted them to a dealer unless the dealers are getting them direct. I still wonder if taking a day trip to Geneva would be any more fruitful.

It would be handy if there was a swiss based member of TWF who could advise.

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On 23/07/2021 at 19:27, deano1956 said:

hey, as mine is less likely to see rainfall , let alone any depth of water , so 100m is plenty:laugh:

deano

I agree that 100m should be perfectly adequate for most of is but it just feels wrong on a watch called Explorer - 200m would be ideal even though I don't ned it. It also seems wrong to have 600m pr 1000m in a watch made for general sale rather than for specialists.

Just me?

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40 minutes ago, chas g said:

Did they give you any indication how long would have to wait? I must say that searching online I am not impressed by the number of 2021 rolex watches that are being offered for sale at way above rrp. People have obviously bought them, left them stickered up and punted them to a dealer unless the dealers are getting them direct. I still wonder if taking a day trip to Geneva would be any more fruitful.

It would be handy if there was a swiss based member of TWF who could advise.

No indication at all just a generic response. I have even emailed Rolex on the same matter, how can so many unobtainable Rolex's be flooding the grey market, response was plausible denibility. Just stated their AD's are consistently monitored for best practices and that they wouldn't sell into thr grey market etc..

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