The Rolex Explorer ii has been on my to-do list for some time. It’s sleek lines and ability to combine the classic with the modern are legendary.
They fly out of stores within a week or two of appearing here in London, but are generally available, as compared to many of their stainless professional counterparts which have long or eternal waiting lists. Perhaps this could be changing now as I hear of up to 3 month waiting lists now in some parts of Europe. This could be due to Rolex’s general cut back on the production of stainless steel models, or it could be the dawn of recognition of this model as a iconic piece in its own right with usually, and dare I say it, good value for a Rolex, and indeed for any of the top brands
One of the issues for the Explorer ii is that it’s difficult to classify. It’s not an obvious diver, but can dive, it’s not an obvious racer but with its beautiful satin stainless steel bezel (all it takes in some brands) it can race, it’s not an obvious dress watch but looks great with a suit, it’s not an obvious aviator or world traveller, but with GMT it can travel ....
It’s a unique creation of Rolex ... the Explorer watch, and you can explore just about everywhere with it.
Note an apology from me - sorry the stickers are still on. I like to let them fall off on their own, normally after a few swims!
The first thing that struck me when I put it on is how svelte it is. Even on my small wrist it sits comfortably and slides under every shirt.
I chose the black one for a number of reasons, all my taste of course and the white one looks super as well. The black is a bit smarter and a bit more subtle. Somehow the white one looks bigger (an optical illusion), not that that’s bad in itself, but the black and the size are almost perfect to my eyes. The silver borders on the pips also look more luxurious then the black borders on the polar. I love the way colours can play with the black
I have a small wrist but like big watches. They are more easy to see but also I just like the presence. 42mm is smaller then the average 44mm of many other brands and most of my other watches, but larger then the 39-40mm liked by Rolex aficionados. The 42mm is perfect here.
The watch has a lovely chunk of sapphire glass up front with the ubiquitous Cyclops eye. The sapphire is raised about a millimetre above the bezel which both gives a classic look whilst providing a bit of extra protection for the bezel.
The bezel itself is a lovely satin matt steel with a clear black recessed font for the second time zone hours. The pips are white with smart silver surrounds with the classic triangle at 12. The classic Rolex hands are white enclosed silver to match the pips and the orange GMT hand is clear and easy to see and shorter then the minutes hand but longer then the hour hand to further enhance recognition.
There are five fonts on the dial, blending nicely with all in white text except for the Explorer ii in orange. The face of course is deep black and is very resistant to reflections in all sorts of lighting environments
The crown is classic Rolex, very slightly oversized, and protected with crown guards like the diving models.
I have to say the lume is unexpectedly bright and is a nice cherry on the icing.
The bracelet is my favourite metal Matt bracelet in the watch world. In addition to taking out or putting in links, the buckle has 3 micro position settings and the genius of the easy link. My wrist can expand and contract during the day significantly, particularly with temperature differences and sweat, and this is sent from heaven.
I was always sceptical about the GMT function, but I am finding it surprisingly useful, mainly as one of my bosses is in a different time zone 5 hours away, and that is material enough to need an annoying double take if calculating it myself. Although I am probably just slow ....
IMHO being difficult to tie down in a genre is a uniqueness and attraction of this extremely useful and gorgeous watch. Every collection should have one and for some, it’ll be a monogamous one with the fly Explorer ii