Rolex Explorer II Review – Rugged, Attractive and Unique

Rolex Explorer II – Great Build, Interesting Features


Rolex Explorer II - whitePeople think of Rolex as a luxury brand, and don’t regard them as great innovators.  That’s selling the company short, because many of their models were created in response to customer needs.  That’s the case with the Rolex Explorer II, which was a revision of the popular Explorer. That model was intended for customers who needed an accurate timepiece to wear in extreme environments, and it was suitable for use at high altitude or in places with extremes of temperature.  The Rolex Explorer II was introduced in 1970 or so as an extension of that, and it had some features that made it useful in places where there wasn’t any available light, such as a cave.  Both models are popular today as both sports and fashion wristwatches, and while they don’t offer the styling options that other models in the company’s product line do, they remain big sellers.

Read on for the full Rolex Explorer II watches review.

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Rolex Explorer II Build Quality

The Rolex Explorer II build quality is about what you’d expect from a company that has a reputation for building a solid product.  They use a hard stainless steel allow for the case and hard, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal for the glass.  Water resistance is good to 100 meters, which is just fine for a wristwatch that was designed to be used on land.  All in all, this is a solid timepiece that should last for decades.

Rolex Explorer II Movements

As with most of the company’s models, the Rolex Explorer II uses a Swiss-made automatic mechanical movement.  It will self-wind while being worn, so you won’t have to worry about it.  It will just run and keep good time.  How good?  The Rolex Explorer II is a COSC-certified chronometer, so you’re going to have accurate time whether you’re 10,000 feet up on a mountain or 500 feet below ground doing some spelunking.


There are several interesting innovations in the Rolex Explorer II.  The model offers a couple of features that were not available on the Explorer – a date complication and a unique fourth hand that shows 24 hour time.  The bezel is marked for 24 hours, and the orange fourth hand lets you know whether you’re in the first 12 hours of the day or the second, which could be a problem if you’re in a light-free environment.  The Rolex Explorer II also offers easy visibility in the dark as it uses tritium-based paint which makes it easy to read the time in the dark.

Rolex Explorer II Styling and Features

Rolex Explorer II - blackMuch like it’s predecessor, the Rolex Explorer II doesn’t offer many options in the way of styling. It’s a bit bigger than it’s predecessor at 42 mm, while the original was 39mm.  It’s currently available only with a stainless steel case and bracelet, though it does come with the option of either a white face or a black one.  That’s a modest improvement over the Explorer, which only offers the black face.  Still, this is intended as a functional tool, rather than a piece of jewelry.  We have seen models of the Rolex Explorer II with diamonds; these are aftermarket modifications offered by third parties.  As it’s shipped from the factory, the watch is all stainless.

Rolex Explorer II Care and Maintenance

As you might expect, the Rolex Explorer II does require some extra care, as you might expect from a rugged, high quality mechanical timepiece.  You’ll need to send the watch back to Rolex every five years or so to have it serviced.  They will disassemble the watch, examine it for worn parts and replace them, if necessary. They’ll clean all the parts, lubricate them, reassemble the timepiece and test it for both water resistance and timing accuracy. Then they’ll polish it up and clean it thoroughly and send it back to you looking like it did the day you bought it.  Aside from this, you should store your Rolex Explorer II in watch winder when not in use to keep it running accurately and be sure to keep it away from strong magnetic fields.  If you’ve had it in or around salt water, you should rinse it with tap water and dry it carefully afterwards.  With good care, this watch should last for many years.

Rolex Explorer II Warranty

The Rolex Explorer II warranty is for two years from the date of purchase against factory defects in either materials or workmanship.  This is the industry standard; it seems that most luxury brands offer a two year warranty.  Rolex will also offer a two year warranty on any service work that they do.

Rolex Explorer II Prices

Rolex Explorer II - vintageAs luxury timepieces go, you’ll find that Rolex Explorer II prices aren’t excessive.  The model sells for about $8000 or so, though you may have to pay more for older examples.  Without gold, platinum or bling, this is a fairly modestly priced model from this company, as they’ve been known to make other models that sell for prices that are well into six figures.  There’s collector interest, of course, and older models, particularly early ones from the 1970s, can sell for a premium.  As there aren’t a lot of options on this model, we don’t expect to see huge appreciation potential on the Rolex Explorer II.  If you like it, buy it for that reason alone. Don’t buy it as an investment, as there are better choices for that.

Rolex Explorer II for Sale

You’ll find Rolex Explorer II for sale at company-authorized retailers, which are usually high end jewelry stores in major cities.  Rolex is particular about the pricing and distribution of their products, as they don’t want to see them discounted or widely available, as that can create the perception that they’re common or ordinary.  By keeping close tabs on who sells their watches, they can control pricing and demand.  That said, it is possible to buy a discount Rolex Explorer II online, as a few Internet retailers carry them, so that’s a great way to save money.

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Rolex Explorer II Summary

The Rolex Explorer II is a nice extension of the original Explorer, with the added date complication, the display that can be read in the dark, the choice of face colors, and the unique 24 hour fourth hand.  If you like rugged good looks as well as a timepiece that’s going to be sturdy enough to hold up to any environment and look good with a business suit, the Rolex Explorer II might be a good choice for you.