3 Unique GMT-Hands on the Rolex Explorer II

April 16th, 2020

Introduced in 1971, Rolex has made several changes and improvements to the Explorer II.

However, one significant update is the evolution of the 24-hour GMT hand on this popular tool watch.

Rolex produced the Explorer II exclusively for cave explorers. And the manufacturer added the 24hour hand to work as an AM/PM indicator.

Later, the 24hour hand was upgraded, and now it could be adjusted independently from other time-telling hands.

Thus, the 24hour hand on the Rolex Explorer II served as a GMT-hand. It could also display dual time zones simultaneously.

Today, let’s have a look at the three unique 24-hour hands that Rolex has offered to the Explorer II over the years.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 1655 with Orange GMT-hand

Rolex released the first version of the Explorer II as the reference 1655.

The brand equipped the early references of this watch with a vibrant orange 24-hour hand.

  • However, the 24-hour orange hand can be available in different shades of orange.
  • A noteworthy feature of this GMT-hand is the big luminous arrow-tip.
  • It acquired the moniker “Freccione” (an Italian term for ‘arrow’) for the reference 1655.

Moreover, the Rolex Explorer II reference 1655 is also popularly known as Steve McQueen.

However, in this Rolex Explorer II generation, wearers cannot adjust the 24-hour hand independently.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 16550 & 16570 with Red GMT-hand

The second Explorer II reference 16550 came with independently adjustable 24-hour hand.

Besides, the watch also features a new case with dial design and a sapphire crystal.

However, Rolex changed the Explorer II reference 16550 to the reference 16570, keeping the design same.

  • The 24-hour hand on this Explorer II generation appears similar to the hands found on the GMT.
  • The only exception to this is the reference 16570 with white “Polar” dial.
  • Here, the hands are finished in black instead of polished in white gold as on the reference 16550.
  • The manufacturer lengthened, thinned out the 24-hour hand and made it red.
  • Moreover, wearers could now independently adjust the 24-hour hand from the usual time-telling hands.

Eventually, the 24-hour hand on the Explorer II served as a GMT-hand, exhibiting dual time zones.

However, the GMT-hand flaunted the similar but miniaturised luminous arrow tip.

More significantly, Rolex painted only the shaft of the arrow red in these Explorer II models.

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 with Contemporary Orange GMT-Hand

The orange 24-hour hand was reintroduced on the Explorer II ref. 216570, paying tribute to the original reference 1655.

Rolex increased the watch’s size to 42mm. However, the 24-hour hand’s shape was kept virtually identical.

The brand enlarged the hand for suiting a more prominent 42mm case and the Maxi dial.

Interestingly, the significant difference between the 24-hour hand of this generation and the original model is in functionality.

The current-generation of Rolex Explorer II flaunts the 24-hour hand that can be independently adjusted and also track a second-time zone.

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