The New Rolex Explorer II (Ref. 216570) - Updated, Upgraded or just Upsized?  0 Comments


(Image from Watch Report)

Rolex announced earlier this year that the venerable Explorer 2 will be replaced by a larger model - up from 40mm to 42mm case. Even larger than the current GMT2 and Submariner models. Is this an updated version, upgraded or just upsized Explorer 2?

If the materials and finishing of the current Submariners and GMT2 is anything to go by, the New Explorer 2 will probably not be a disappointment. The movement, Caliber 3187 is almost identical to the current model save for the blue Parachrome hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. Any performance improvement by way of  accuracy will be doubtful. The obvious changes are - the larger case by 2mm; the orange GMT hand; and the updated Oyster bracelet with the Easylink extension.

The orange GMT hand is a re-edition of the first Explorer 2. To many, its a welcome change, at the very least to commemorate the 40 anniversary of the model. The updated bracelet is a welcome change to the model being much sturdier and well finished even though Rolexes are meant to be hard working daily wearers.

When Rolex began their updating of their sports watches some years ago starting with the GMT 2 Ceramic bezel, the changes in both quality and design was obvious. The same for the submariner and even more so for the Sea Dweller. Collectors and fans of the Explorer 2 had been waiting for years to see how the classic Explorer 2 will be redesigned.

Oddly enough the New Explorer 2 to me is a disappointment yet positively welcomed. More the latter than former I might add. It was somewhat a surprise to find that the designers did not make a positive improvement on the design as they had done so for the other models. With the incorporation of ceramics, many had speculated how the Explorer 2 bezel could be changed. But for the longest time, I harboured the concern that having a ceramic bezel on the Explorer 2 will be fatal to the design.

Further, I suspect that the designers increased the case size by 2mm to avoid the problem of not having apparently changed anything to the current design. Whether the enlarged case by 2mm has improved the watch or changed the personality of it remains to be seen when supplies are delivered.

In any case, I would like to attribute the lack of design change to the fact that the Explorer 2 design is a classic and I dare say that it's near impossible to improve on perfection? The good news for current owners is that this new watch does not make the current Explorer 2 obsolete nor outmoded (both by design and movement). The real question is whether the New Explorer 2 made enough change to excite current owners to replace their old Explorer 2?

One last note to all who are considering a Rolex sports watch. The Explorer 2 series is the only model that does not come in multiple variations. No full gold, half gold, diamond studded models. Just stainless steel with either black or white dials. The lack of variations to me reflects the special place this model has in Rolex collection. Its a serious beater to be worn through all kinds of adverse environments.

I expect the New Explorer 2 to continue its success as a watch that serves its owner in all kinds of situations and conditions.

- HT



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  • This is a personal blog of Harry SK Tan on all things pertaining to Horology - from watch collecting, horolography, news and developments from all over the world particularly Singapore.
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