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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 watch is one the last of the 'Orange Hand' models produced by Rolex before they altered the design in the early 1980s, minting the Ref. 16550 which offered a matte black dial round luminous markers with white-gold surrounds, a red 24-hour hand, a sapphire crystal and a steel bezel with wider, fatter font and triangular odd hour markers. In excellent condition over all, this piece is sure to be a beloved fixture in any collection. The presence of the nicely patinated service dial and pristine service bezel suggests that this watch was lovingly maintained by its previous owner.
Whether you're looking for a bomber tool watch or a collectible vintage sport Rolex, the 1655 is never the wrong answer.
Stainless Steel Oyster Case is approximately 39mm (excluding crown). Rolex Reference 1655. Rolex Calibre 1570 Automatic Movement. 6.6 Million Serial, Circa 1980.
Overall Condition: The watch is in very good condition over all, with light wear marks consistent with age and use. Lugs remain thick and sharp and case shows no evidence of over-polishing. Matte black service dial is in very good condition with nicely patinated luminous material. Pencil hour and minute hands have aged nicely. Broad Orange 24-hour hand has faded slightly but is in very good condition with matching lume. Sweeping seconds 'lollipop' hand is in very good condition with a slight darkening toward the end. Stainless steel service bezel is in very good condition. Rolex-signed crown and screw case back.
Includes 20mm Ref. 78360 Oyster Bracelet with 501B endlinks and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.