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Articolo: The Explorer II GMT, they don’t make it like they used to | VARIO

The Explorer II GMT, they don’t make it like they used to | VARIO

The Explorer II GMT, they don’t make it like they used to | VARIO

Nostalgia is everywhere in the watch world; you can see brands trying to revive the feeling with new models every year. Beige lume markers, Breguet numerals, domed sapphire crystals … you name it, the cues are everywhere, and the bag of tricks goes deeper and deeper. This brings me to the most unanswered question in the watch world (perhaps the second one), why do people like old designs? It is odd for me to call an Explorer II vintage but given that this beauty from 1991 has aged gracefully I can only take some time to try and understand the question. The Explorer II is probably on of the less sought-after steel sport models in the Rolex catalogue but that doesn’t mean that is less than its peers, on the contrary this means that is a great opportunity for some enthusiasts to own a true pillar of the crown. The watch was created for cave explorers and the idea of the GMT was not to have a second time zone but an AM/PM indicator so, in early models the second hour hands couldn’t adjusted independently, how cool is that? The model we are looking is the 16570 and hopefully after reading the specifications and why this watch is so perfect, we could answer that question.

rolex explorer ii

The specifications

The diameter on a Rolex is important but nowadays the thickness is what matters, in my mind this is one of the main reasons on why vintage is so popular. At some point we lost the love for thin and small watches but suddenly this has comeback. At 40mm and 11mm thick you can really appreciate how things were done before, very slim, and ready to be worn all day, the Explorer II is a candy on the wrist but by no means less tool like. Inside of the steel case you will find the 3186 movement which remained in production for more than 20 years, it has an independent hand for the GMT function, runs at COSC level and the winding is as smooth as any watch I’ve tried so far. The black dial is beyond glossy, a great canvas for any sports watch, white printing and gold hands with hour markers complete the package, the red hand brings colors to a black and white face, looking incredible and timeless. The 24-hour fixed bezel completes the looks, the steel bezel is the only thing that separates this beauty from the GMT Master II which is around 50% more on the used market, did I just mention that this Rolex is a bargain?

rolex explorer

On the wrist

The Explorer II wears like a charm, the overall dimensions are perfect for my 6.25-inch wrist, it feels luxurious but also feels like it can take a beating, there aren’t many watches that can crossover that territory, but this is one of them, sure the watch looks very tool like but it has that refinement that many watch brands are trying to follow.

rolex explorer 2


The watch is a trap monster, it goes with almost everything you can throw at it, it can be a mesh bracelet or a rubber strap. It also goes well with the Vario seat belt strap in camo green, just perfect simplicity and looks like is ready to take on a mission, the 11mm thickness helps the watch feel at home with any other you want to try on.


As you can imagine, the watch is a one of my favorites pieces that I can call my own. I had a GMT Master II with a maxi case and the comfort level is not even close to the older Rolex cases, then you have the polished center links which shine a bit too much and the oversized markers can make it look a bit cartoonish, not the case with the old 16570. People like vintage because it brings nostalgia, but they also like it because is better proportioned, more elegant, and rarer, not many are around and the ones that are out there might not be in a great condition. The vintage feel is just that, a felling, but It does create an aura on this watch that I don’t think anyone can reject, it feels special, and it is special.


Written by Robbie from Robbie & Watches


Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the author and do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated.


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