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For decades, Rolex prided itself on sending their watches to the farthest reaches of the earth. Where the iconic Submariner ruled the ocean depths and the GMT Master owned the skies, the Explorer II was designed to delve deep into the earth itself.
Released in 1971 as a follow up to the original Explorer, the Explorer II was designed specifically for a new threshold of exploration: Speleology - the exploration of all things subterranean. This hearty breed of adventurers spend days on end underneath the surface of the earth, and without sunlight it is easy to lose track of day and night. To keep them on point, Rolex combined a 24-hour hand with a fixed 24-hour steel bezel which kept continuous track of whether it was AM or PM.
Unlike it's predecessor, the Explorer I, which made famous by mountaineers in the 1950s, the Explorer II utilized a larger Oyster Case design closer in proportion to the larger sports models already offered (the Submariner and GMT).
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 example dates to 1978 and also comes complete with its full set of box (not pictured) and paperwork, including original Warranty Papers (stamped and dated 1978, original instruction manual, and factory service and warranty papers from 1998 and 2010. Fitted with a genuine service dial, handset, and a factory refreshed bezel, this pampered Explorer II is an absolute beauty, ready for daily wear and another 40+ years of ownership on the wrist of its next custodian. Truly, one of the nicest and most complete examples of this reference that we have ever come across!
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Stainless steel Oyster Case is approximately 39mm in diameter (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1655. Circa 1978.
Overall condition: Case is in excellent condition overall, professionally refinished by Rolex USA in 2010 with no signs of over-polishing. Genuine Tritium service dial and hand set fitted in 1998 are in near-perfect condition, with light signs of aging not commonly seen on serviced Explorer IIs. Original case back and Rolex signed crown. Bracelet and clasp show light signs of wear from use.
Includes correct service replacement Stainless Steel Oyster Bracelet (78360 with 580 end links) with signed clasp, and two 20mm Nylon Straps by Crown & Buckle. Also includes original instruction manual and Warranty/COSC Certification paperwork, stamped and dated May 30, 1978. Rolex service paperwork from includes invoices and warranty information from 1998 and 2010.