Rolex Explorer II 1655 - 1977
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Rolex Explorer II 1655 - 1977

The Explorer II is definitely a timepiece for the man who craves something a little different from his vintage Rolex.  Released in 1971 as a follow up to the original Explorer made famous by mountaineers in the 1950s, the Explorer II utilized a larger Oyster Case-design more in line with the larger sports models already offered (the Submariner and GMT).  Featuring a four hand display with a large and distinctive 24-hour pointer hand, the Explorer II was essentially a GMT Master with one notable difference: a fixed steel bezel was installed in place of the characteristic two-tone from the aviator's model.

The reason for this fixed bezel was the target demographic: Speleologists - subterranean explorers.  This hearty breed of mankind spends days on end underneath the surface of the earth and without seeing the sky are prone to losing track of day and night.  The 24-hour hand would point to the appropriate place on the fixed 24-Hour bezel indicating whether it was AM or PM.  Essentially, while the original Explorer was designed to go into the clouds, the Explorer II was designed to descend into darkness.  Pretty cool, right?  

Although the Explorer II was produced in far fewer numbers than its Sub and GMT counterparts, it maintains a strong collector following, due partially to its assumed connection with Steve McQueen.  In the early 2000s, a rumor was started that the legendary actor/racer/all-around King of Cool owned a 1655.  In truth, no evidence exists that McQueen ever wore one, much less owned one, and there is no photographic proof to substantiate the rumor.  Regardless, his name is forever connected with the watch, and although prices have cooled down since the truth was revealed several years back (he actually wore a Submariner 5512), the Explorer II remains a highly collectable and totally awesome member of the vintage Rolex family.

This particular late example dates from 1977 and shows just the right amount of patina for a daily-wear vintage piece.  If you aren't a fan of stashing your vintage treasures in a safe and would rather wear and use them as intended, look no further.  Whether it is spelunking or stock-brokering, this beauty is ready to go!

 

Details

Stainless steel Oyster Case is approximately 39mm in diameter (excluding crown).

Overall condition:  Case is in good condition overall, showing some light wear from age and use, but no signs of over-polishing.  A few minor dings along lower left lug (pictured).  Lugs are sharp and fat.  Original bezel shows light signs of wear from use, but original paint is intact.  Dial is completely original, showing no signs of blotching or damage.  Lume has a brilliant even cream-like patina.  Lume has lifted in one spot just left of the 12:00 marker.  Original hands have patinated to match the hour markers and have a lovely light fade.  Original case back and signed Rolex crown.

Includes original Rolex Oyster Stainless Steel Bracelet (78360 with 580 end links) with signed clasp, and two 20mm Nylon Straps by Crown & Buckle.

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