In our previous article, we looked at the Explorer I, this timeless watch for the adventurer, and it is only right if today we bring out its two larger, more modern-looking counterparts, the Explorer II with the white and the black dials.
Wrapped into 42-millimeter-wide, 904L stainless steel cases, these are a noticeable three millimeters wider than the Explorer I. A wider dial, a more pronounced bezel, and a pair of crown guards render the Explorer II more contemporary – although still not oversized or large by any stretch of the imagination. Let’s first talk looks a bit more and then we move on to the expanded functionality.
The white dial variant, like any white dial watch these days, may not appear to be an obvious choice – even though it is a splendid match with the Explorer’s history that goes all the way back to Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay conquering the snowy top of Mount Everest back on May 29, 1953. The crisp, white dial makes all dial elements pop with ease: the thick, black coated 18kt white gold indices and hands stand out against the white back-drop sharply, lending the Explorer II excellent legibility.
The black dial variant, and again, this is something not many identify immediately, will play with proportions as well as aesthetics differently. A black dial watch tends to look smaller than its white dial counterpart – in the same way how a bright room feels more spacious than one surrounded by black walls.
On the wrist, this translates into a notably different wearing experience and we suggest trying both the white and the black versions in person to see, which one is the best match to one’s preferences and style. The black dial version receives exposed 18kt white gold hands and indices to improve legibility.
The thicker lugs that the Rolex community likes to refer to as the “Maxi case” add more presence without increasing bulk, while the integration of the 3-link Oyster bracelet remains impeccable as a testament to Rolex engineering. Being the adventurer’s watch that it is, the Explorer II comes equipped with the Oysterlock folding clasp with its double-lock safety system to eliminate even the smallest chance of the clasp opening accidentally. Cleverly integrated into the clasp is the Easylink extension system, a godsend to those who have experienced their wrists expand in high humidity or heat. Within seconds, the circumference of the bracelet can be extended by 5 millimeters, just enough to make for ideal wearability.
The list of functionalities has expanded with the Explorer II which, thanks to the 3187 in-house Rolex caliber, adds a 24-hour second time zone with independent rapid setting of the hour hand. This means that the modern traveler can keep track of his home time and local time simultaneously, while, with the quick set feature integrated into the movement, the main hour hand can be set in one hour increments without interrupting the movement’s timekeeping.
A paramagnetic blue Parachrom hairspring, high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, as well as Rolex’s durable and efficiency, bi-directional Perpetual automatic winding system render the 3187 caliber fully capable of taking on any adventure.
Overall, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Explorer II is an elegant and neat way of Rolex bringing the timeless “Explorer I” into a more modern aesthetic. With its expanded functionality and more generous proportions, it shares its values and past with the “Explorer I,” but displays a very different character.