The Explorer II has been produced for an impressive 47 years now.
The reference 16570 was launched in 1989 and was produced for little over than 20 years until the actual 42mm was launched in 2011. The 16570’s importance is validated by the staying power of its design for more than 20 years and indeed it still looks great today.
It’s the perfect adventurer watch. All steel, great readability, robust, two time zones, goes perfect with some shorts and t-shirt by the beach but also fits perfectly under the shirt with a suit and still looks at home. The bright white dial (commonly nicknamed “polar”) looks expansive and wide with plenty of open space. The hour markers and hands are crisply outlined in black glossy contrast, one quick glance is all it takes to determine the exact time and current date, which is magnified by the archetypal cyclops lens that makes this a very straightforward and functional watch, almost to a fault.
Powered by the reliable Rolex 3185 caliber and measuring at 40mm, for me personally this still is the perfect size Rolex, doesn’t have the hefty weight of the newer version and the crown doesn’t dig into the back of the hand.
As any watch collector will tell you, the value is in the details and Rolex collectors specially know how big of a difference this can make.
This particular watch has what is called a “swiss only” dial and was only in production from 1998 to 1999 making this watch a really rare version, estimated less than 5% of all 16570.
Before 1998, the marker at 6 0’clock on a Rolex dial would typically have a Tritium indicator of the nature “Swiss - t < 25”. The move to Luminova saw this replaced by the word “Swiss” at 6 0’clock. This happened in 1998/99. Super Luminova saw this replaced to “Swiss Made” from 1999 onwards.
There’s a really nice article about these watches you can read here :