Rolex Explorer II 'Swiss Only'

Rolex Explorer II 'Swiss Only'

Why We Love It

With its storied origin as a cave explorer’s watch, the Explorer II is a bit of an outlier among Rolex’s professional sports watches. 

But if history is any indicator - its the quirky pieces that become the most sought.

With the case size at 39mm, this Ref. 16570 is in spectacular condition and preserves the proportions of proper vintage Explorer II's like the 1655 reference. Taking a closer look below six, the dial is signed with 'Swiss', a rare transitional feature that was only in production for a year or so in the late nineties. Superluminova elements were used on these 'Swiss Only' dials and allowed for legibility in low light situations. 

The Explorer II is one of the last Sport Rolex's you can buy for under $10k - and at the rate things are going, we don't expect that to be true for too much longer...

The Story

The Explorer II is definitely a timepiece for the man who craves something a little different from his sport model 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 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, or 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 daytime hours. 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.

First released in 1971 as the Reference 1655, the model saw several successors in the following decade. Most notably is the Reference 16570, which paved the way for the Explorer II of today. Unlike previous versions, the Reference 16570 did away with the large orange hand that typified the Reference 1655; moreover, the slimmer 12-hour hand now had the capability of being set independently, also serving as a semi-quickset date function. 


SKU: AS03567

Stainless steel Oyster case is approximately 39mm (excluding the crown). Rolex automatic-winding movement. Ref. 16570. Circa 1998.

Overall Condition: The case is in fantastic condition overall showing light wear consistent with age and gentle use. Luminous glossy black 'Swiss Only' dial is in excellent condition with applied luminova markers, and matching 'Mercedes' handset. Signed crown.

Includes 78790/501B Oyster bracelet with flip-lock clasp, punched papers, booklets, and later Rolex box.

More pieces you may enjoy

Rolex Pearlmaster 34
Ref. M81319 Circa 2010s
$ 30,120.00
Rolex GMT-Master II 'Swiss Only'
Ref. 16710 Circa 1997 With Hangtag And Papers
$ 18,900.00
Rolex Milgauss
Ref. 116400V Circa 2014
$ 6,750.00
Tudor Glamour Double-Date
Ref. M57000-0037
$ 2,550.00


Thank you for your interest in the Tudor Oysterdate Big Rose. Please fill out the form below and we will get back to you shortly.


Our Pledge

Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.


We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.


All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.

International Buyers

Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options