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Used Rolex Explorer II Watches

Rolex Explorer II: Truly an Extreme Explorer’s Watch

Released in 1953, the Rolex Explorer II is a special collection dedicated for mountaineers and explorers. The original Rolex Explorer collection features a highly legible black dial with large hour markers and three, six, and nine numerals. Top that off with its simple design, we got a highly useful tool that could tell time accurately, no matter the environment. However, Rolex continued to expand and improve the collection. 

By 1971, the brand introduced the Rolex Explorer II collection. These Rolex watches share similar features with its predecessors, but they amplified the best qualities of the previous Rolex Explorer. In effect, we got wristwatches with highly readable dials, extremely resistant cases, and guaranteed waterproof systems. Moreover, they also absorb more shock compared to the earlier Rolex Explorer watches.

Prices at a Glance: The Most Popular Rolex Explorer II Watches 


Price (approx.)



Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570-0001$18,199.0042mm
  • Dual-time wristwatch with date, Oystersteel case, screw-down solid back, oyster bracelet, white dial, self winding automatic chronometer and calibre 3187 movement

Rolex Explorer II Ref.


  • Monobloc middle case, screw-down caseback and winding crown, black dial, perpetual, mechanical, self-winding movement
Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655$23,183 (Second-Hand Price)39mm
  • Stainless steel case with an Oystersteel bracelet, date display, bright orange 24-hour hand, fixed bezel with 24-hour graduations
Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570-0001$8,55042mm
  • White dial, Oystersteel case, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, cyclops lens over the date, fixed bezel with 24-hour graduations, highly legible Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence, self-winding, water resistance upto 100 meters
Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570-0002$8,55042mm
  • Black dial, Oystersteel case, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, cyclops lens over the date, fixed bezel with 24-hour graduations, highly legible Chromalight display with long-lasting blue luminescence, self-winding, water resistance upto 100 meters
Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16550$14,950 (Second-Hand Price)40mm
  • Mercedes-style hands, geometric-shaped hour markers, red 24-hour hand with a luminous arrow tip
Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16570$15,799.0040mm
  • Calibre 3185/3186 movement, polar dial with black surrounds, luminous hour markers


How much is a Rolex Explorer II watch?

The retail price for a new Rolex Explorer II is around $8,550 USD. Now, for pre-owned Rolex Explorer II watches, price starts around $6,000 USD and can go as high as $50,000 USD. This of course depends on the specific model and overall condition of the watch. For rare vintage Rolex Explorer II watches, the more pristine its condition is, the higher its market value.

Price and Features of the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570 Model

The latest offering of the brand for this collection is the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570. It shares a similar look to its predecessor, although the case shape is a bit slimmer, the bracelet a little wider, and the markings on the bezel even bolder. Moreover, ticking away inside this Rolex watch is the newest Caliber 3285 movement. 

Similar to older models, you can choose from two traditional dial colors: white or black. However, the hands and markers of the white dial version are coated black to avoid reflection, thus enhancing legibility. You can get the newest Rolex Explorer II watch at only $8,550 USD.

Price and Features of the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655 Model 

As the first ever model in this collection, the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655 is a sought-after timepiece among collectors. Released in1971, this Explorer II watch had a 39mm stainless steel case with a matching steel bracelet. It was only available with a matte black dial, featured an 24-hour hand, and a fixed bezel. The now signature large orange arrow made it an unmistakable presence on your wrist and also provided more readability when working in complete darkness. It’s important to note that later models of the ref. 1655 came with a red arrow. However, they quickly faded to orange over time. Preowned Rolex Explorer II watches with reference 1655 can go as high as $15,799 USD.

Price and Features of the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 Model

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the collection, the company released the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 in 2011. A revamp and modern version of the Ref. 1655, it featured a larger case that measured 42mm in diameter. On top of this, the hands and lume plots on the dial also increased in size for even better legibility. The change in size separated the Explorer II from other sport watches within the brand. It also allowed it to appeal to a new market of watch enthusiasts, specifically for those who liked the look and feel of oversized sport watches. Unfortunately, while the bigger size made it more legible, many took issue with the overly glossy hands of the Explorer II 216570. A pre-owned version of the Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 can cost between $15,899 USD and $18,199 USD, depending on the quality.

Price and Features of the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16550 Model

Following the release of the original Ref. 1655, the brand introduced the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16550 in 1985. In this second generation Explorer II, we saw a larger case with a diameter of 40mm. This watch model also came equipped with the then new caliber 3085 that allowed the 24-hour hand to be set independently. The ref. 16500 was also the first Explorer II to be a dual time zone watch. Because of this, not only is this model perfect for explorers but also for globetrotters too.

Alongside the upgrade in the tech ticking inside the watch, also came a revamp in design as well. Besides the larger appearance, it was also the first Explorer II watch to come in either a black or white dial. This, as we know, became the standard in the line of Explorer II watches. On top of this, it also introduced the Mercedes-style hands and geometric-shaped lume-filled hour markers. The now signature bright orange arrow tip took a step back during this model, and we saw a longer and thinner red one.

The manufacturing of the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16550 was short-lived, though. The company discontinued it in 1989, just four years after its launch. Due to its limited production, many watch connoisseurs consider it to be one of the rarest Explorer II watches. With that in mind, prices for a second-hand model can cost up to $35,600 USD.

Price and Features of the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16570 Model

Replacing the Ref. 16550 in the market was the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16570. Released right after the retirement of the Ref. 16550, the Ref. 16570 shared similar traits with its predecessor. However, Rolex added new upgrades to the timepiece. It came equipped with the updated caliber 3185 movement and then later with the caliber 3186. The caliber 3185, which was based on the previous 3135, allowed for an increase in the watch’s power reserve from 42 hours to 50 hours. The dial remained the same, however, a notable difference was the added black outlines surrounding the round hour-markers on the white dials, instead of the previously white gold ones.

The company produced the Rolex Explorer II 16570 until 2011. Within those 22 years, the model underwent several changes in production. In 2007, it came with a laser engraving on the inner bezel ring. For many collectors, versions of this model with the engraving are more sought-after in the market due to its limited production of only four years. Some used Rolex Explorer II versions cost only $8,609 USD. However, there are some that can go as high as $23,106 USD.

The 2021 Rolex Explorer II Models

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Explorer II collection, the brand launched the new Rolex Explorer II Ref. 226570. There’s little difference between the Ref. 226570 and older reiterations of the Explorer II watch. The slightly slimmed downed case is still 42mm. Rolex still uses Oystersteel for the case, which is extremely resistant to corrosion. The Oyster bracelet is a delightful amalgamation of sturdiness and comfort.

Additionally, thanks to its Easylink comfort extension link, the wearer can easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5mm. Thus, ensuring ultimate comfort no matter the circumstance. You can select between the black or white dial version. Both of which come with 24-hour arrow hand and hour markers. The dial of the latest Explorer II also comes with a Chromalight display. While this isn’t anything new, the company claims that the new 2021 Explorer II uses a new and brighter formulation.

However, inside the Ref. 226570 is where we see the latest innovative technology Rolex has to offer. Powering this watch is the new in-house caliber 3285 movement. This allows for 70 hours of power reserve with a blue Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers. It beats at 4Hz and has precision of about 2 seconds per day. Moreover, it also features the Chronergy escapement patented by Rolex, which provides great dependability.

Overall, the latest Rolex Explorer II models still maintain the spirit of exploration, while serving us some serious technical upgrades. 

Should you invest in a Rolex Explorer II watch?

Purchasing the best luxury Swiss watch is an investment. Luxury brands like Rolex offer more than just a wristwatch. When you’re buying a Rolex watch, you’re also investing in something that’s built to last a lifetime. Admittedly, it’s not as popular as the brand’s other professional watches. However, they have sold well enough over the years. This is thanks to its distinct design and specific target market.

If you work in a field that can take you deep within caves and oceans, or on top of the highest mountains, you will need an incredibly robust and accurate watch on your wrist. Even if you just love to go spelunking and other adventures of the extreme, the Rolex Explorer II is certainly worth it. With that said, the prices for older models of the Explorer II are on the rise. Thus, they make a safe investment piece. 

Rolex Explorer and Rolex Explorer II Watches: What’s the Difference?

Comparing the original Rolex Explorer collection to the Rolex Explorer II is like comparing oranges to apples. While they share the same essence of being an adventurer’s watch, they bring several notable differences to the table. The original Explorer collection is a no-nonsense classic Rolex watch you can take with you during expeditions or at the office. It offers wearers a timeless watch with a minimalist aesthetic with its slim, simple, and clean design. While being durable and legible during extreme conditions.

Meanwhile, the Explorer II takes everything great about the original Explorer and amplifies it to new extremes. Everything about the Rolex Explorer II collection is bigger and bolder than the first Explorer. It features a sportier look with more advanced capacities. From the upgraded movement to the more robust sapphire crystal, the Explorer II showcases the brand’s strides to more advanced technical innovations. With that in mind, it also narrows its target market down. The Explorer II is the one for those who really need a sports watch with extra bells and whistles like a date display and dual time zone capability. 

The Story Behind the Rolex Explorer II Watch

Since its launch in 1971, we’ve seen the Rolex Explorer II watches on the wrists of many explorers, mountaineers and scientists. But why is that, though? Why is it the preferred Rolex watch of people working in extreme environments? We can attribute this to its design.

The large bright orange hand of the Explorer II is a staple in its design. It makes it easily distinguishable from other Rolex watches. However, have you ever wondered how this design feature came to be?

The original intention of the signature orange arrow was to aid cave explorers or other individuals working in complete darkness. The orange arrow pointing at the 24-hour markings on the fixed bezel serves as an indicator between night and day. Thanks to this feature, the likes of speleologists, volcanologists or even polar explorers can easily differentiate daytime from nighttime. 

Spotted: The Rich and Famous Love the Rolex Explorer II Watches

Prince Harry

We have spotted the British royal family with Rolex watches on their wrists for years. Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, is certainly no exception. Photographers have captured the Prince wearing a Rolex Explorer II watch during his time in the British army. In 2016, we saw the Rolex Explorer II 216570 with a white dial on his wrist. Prior to this, we’ve also spotted him sporting the Rolex Explorer II ref. 16550. It’s a surprising choice, considering that the Explorer II collection may be one of the cheapest Rolex watches out there. Most celebrities opt for flashier Rolex models. But then again, while serving in the military, you would want a watch suited for extreme weather and conditions.

Tom Hardy

Another Brit that’s a fan of this Swiss luxury watch is Tom Hardy. The English actor has also worn the Rolex Explorer II 216570 on his wrist during a press conference for his film Legend. The oversized sports watch is not only great for adventurers, but thanks to its second time zone, it’s also perfect for UK natives who frequently travel the globe for work.

Ellen DeGeneres

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres is not only a fan of the latest Rolex watches but also vintage ones. The talk-show host owns the first ever Rolex Explorer II Ref.1655. Released in 1972, this vintage Explorer II watch did not receive much love from the public during its initial release. However, now we are seeing more and more notable people wanting to get their hands on the vintage Rolex Explorer II watches.

Jordan Spieth

This top-ranked golfer is a Rolex brand ambassador. As such, it’s not uncommon to see him donning Rolex watches after tournaments. We’ve mostly seen him wearing the Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 during prize ceremonies.

Ed Viesturs

There’s no denying that the rich and the famous adore the Rolex Explorer II. From royalty, celebrities, to athletes, it seems like just about everyone has an Explorer II on their wrist. However, now we move on to those who actually inspired the creation of the Explorer II collection. Ed Viesturs is a world-class high-altitude mountaineer, with various records under his belt. To this date, he is the only American to reach the summits of all fourteen of the world’s 8,000-metre peaks. And when climbing great heights, you need a sturdy and reliable watch as your companion. For Viesturs, it’s a Rolex Explorer II with a white dial. 

Test Your Limits with the Rolex Explorer II

Throughout its history, the Rolex Explorer II collection has seen numerous changes in its design and features. However, there are also several features that remain the same. It’s stainless steel case with an Oystersteel bracelet, it’s waterproofness and, of course, the signature 24-hour display with the bright oversized arrow. What’s more, the Explorer II line also keeps the essence of being the perfect tool watch made to withstand even the harshest environments. 

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