Rolex Explorer II 216570 Ultimate Review and Guide

First launched in 1971 as a watch designed specifically for cave explorers, the Rolex Explorer II was created to be a supplementary addition to the existing Explorer collection, rather than a direct replacement for the time-only model that had existed since 1953. Adding both a date display and an additional 24-hour hand, the Explorer II […] The post Rolex Explorer II 216570 Ultimate Review and Guide appeared first on Bob's Watches.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 Ultimate Review and Guide

First launched in 1971 as a watch designed specifically for cave explorers, the Rolex Explorer II was created to be a supplementary addition to the existing Explorer collection, rather than a direct replacement for the time-only model that had existed since 1953. Adding both a date display and an additional 24-hour hand, the Explorer II was created to provide a clear reference of day and night hours – even while operating in total darkness, deep below the Earth’s surface.

Produced between 2011 and 2021, the Rolex Explorer II reference 216570 is a 42mm stainless steel sports watch that features both a date display and GMT functionality. Although it closely resembles the current-production version of Rolex’s iconic speleologist’s watch, the ref. 216570 represented a major turning point for the collection when it first made an appearance at Baselworld 2011 and it now occupies an important position in the model’s history. If you’ve been thinking about adding one of these Rolex sports watches to your collection, here is everything you need to know about the reference 216570 Explorer II.

Rolex Explorer II Reference 216570

Explorer II 216570 Key Features:

– Reference Number: 216570

– Production Years: 2011 – 2021

– Case Size: 42mm

– Materials: Oystersteel (904L Stainless Steel)

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display, GMT-Functionality

– Dial: Black or White (“Polar”) w/ Luminous Hour Markers (Chromalight)

– Bezel: Fixed. Stainless Steel w/ 24-Hour Scale

– Crystal: Sapphire (Flat w/ Cyclops Lens)

– Movement: Rolex Caliber 3187

– Water Resistance: 100 Meters / 330 Feet

– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Rolex Explorer II.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 White Dial Polar

Rolex Explorer II Ref. 216570 History

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Explorer II collection in 2011, Rolex released an updated version of its purpose-built outdoor adventurer’s watch. Known as the reference 216570, the new model featured a larger 42mm case – which was an unexpected first for the collection, as the model had maintained its 40mm case diameter since the second generation the watch had appeared in the mid-1980s.

While the new Explorer II 216570 represented a major turning point for the model and brought with it a list of updates and refinements, the reference 216570 retained many of the core elements that had defined the collection for more than a quarter of a century. Just as before the Explorer II ref. 216570 was exclusively offered in stainless steel and available with the option of either a black or a white dial. Additionally, just like its 40mm predecessors, the 12-hour hand was independently adjustable from the 24-hour hand, allowing the reference 216570 to simultaneously display two different time zones and function as a GMT watch.

Production of the Rolex Explorer II reference 216570 lasted a full ten years until it was discontinued in 2021, which marked the collection’s 50th anniversary. Replacing the ref. 216570 was the updated reference 226570, which featured a new movement but largely resembled its direct predecessor. The popularity of the reference 216570 increased throughout its production run, and while it was readily available at a retail level upon its initial release, it became entirely unavailable during the last several years that it remained part of the brand’s catalog. Like all stainless steel Rolex sports watches, demand for the Explorer II ref. 216570 far exceeded supply, and waitlists for the model topped out at several years in length before the model was discontinued.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 42mm Stainless Steel

A Closer Look at the Rolex Explorer II 216570

It is often said that Rolex’s approach to watch design and development is one that could be considered evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Incremental improvements in the pursuit of perfection is the Rolex way, but this often means that a lot of visual similarities exist between different generations of Rolex models and a close examination is often required in order to fully appreciate the various nuances of a given reference. Below is a breakdown of the defining features of the Rolex Explorer II 216570.

Explorer II 216570 Case

Although the very first Rolex Explorer II (the reference 1655) had a 39mm case, every subsequent model prior to the reference 216570 had featured a 40mm case diameter. Signaling a major turning point for the collection, the then-new ref. 216570 was larger than any other Explorer II watch at 42mm in diameter. Additionally, while the lug width on all previous Explorer II watches was 20mm, the updated ref. 216570 featured slightly larger 21mm lugs to better match its larger case. While the larger Oyster case still offered users 100 meters (330 feet) of water resistance, its increased size resulted in a significantly larger overall presence on the wrist, immediately separating it from the numerous other Rolex models with 40mm cases and placing it among the absolute largest models in the brand’s collection.

Explorer II 216570 Bezel

Probably the single most defining element of the Rolex Explorer II is its brushed stainless steel bezel that is engraved with a black 24-hour scale. Unlike the 24-hour bezel on the GMT-Master series which rotates bi-directionally, the bezel on all Rolex Explorer II watches is fixed. However, with the exception of the very first Explorer II reference, the independently adjustable hour hands on the watch can be used in conjunction with its 24-hour bezel to simultaneously display two different time zones.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 White Polar Dial

Explorer II 216570 Dial

Although the inaugural Explorer II was exclusively fitted with a black dial, every subsequent iteration of it has been available with either a black dial or a white “Polar” dial – a trend that continues to this day. The “Polar” moniker is an entirely informal one, but you will frequently see the term “Polar Explorer” connected to the white dial examples, particularly in collecting circles. On both white and black dials of the reference 216570, the “Explorer II” name appears in bright orange letters to match the 24-hour hand and the hour markers are filled with Chromalight – Rolex’s proprietary blue-glowing luminous material. However, one difference between the black and white Explorer II 216570 dials is that the applied marker surrounds are finished black on the white dials, while the markers on the black ones are left in their natural state of high-polished 18k white gold.

Explorer II 216570 Hands

Beyond the larger case size, the most discussed aspect of the reference 216570 was the return of the model’s large, bright-orange, arrow-shaped 24-hour hand. Rolex famously never makes vintage-inspired or heritage pieces, although the brand does occasionally acknowledge various design elements from its past. While the hour, minute, and seconds hands are essentially larger versions of the style found on most Rolex sports watches, the 24-hour hand on the ref. 216570 is a recreation of the version found on the very first Explorer II watch from the 1970s.

Additionally, one other point worth mentioning is that the hands found on the white “Polar” dial examples are finished black (with the exception of the orange 24-hour hand) to match their black-finished hour markers, while the hands fitted to the black dial examples are polished white gold and only feature black finished bases, which gives them a “floating” appearance. Similarly, the bright orange 24-hour hands are not exactly the same on the black and white dial versions of the reference 216570, and the ones fitted to the black dial models also feature black-finished base sections to match the similarly-styled hour and minute hands.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 Black Dial

Explorer II 216570 Movement

The Rolex Explorer II 216570 is powered by the brand’s in-house Caliber 3187 movement, which is only found inside reference 216570 watches. An evolution of the Caliber 3186 that powers its predecessor, the Rolex Cal. 3187 is a certified Swiss chronometer and it benefits from modern proprietary Rolex technologies such as a blue Parachrom hairspring and Paraflex shock absorbers for greater resistance to shocks and temperature fluctuations. The Rolex Caliber 3187 offers users a 50-hour power reserve and like all modern Rolex movements that feature the brand’s ‘Superlative Chronometer’ status, the Cal. 3187 promises timekeeping accuracy within -2/+2 seconds per day.

Explorer II 216570 Bracelet

Like many of Rolex’s other sport and tool watches, the Oyster bracelet was the only official option for the Explorer II reference 216570. With that in mind, the bracelet found on the ref. 216570 represents a dramatic improvement over the Oyster-style bracelet fitted to its predecessor. Unlike the previous style of bracelet, the stainless steel Oyster bracelet on the ref. 216570 features completely solid links (including solid end-links) and a redesigned Oysterlock safety clasp that includes the brand’s Easylink extension system, which enables users to either expand or contract the bracelet by 5mm, completely on the fly and without the use of any tools.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 Orange Hand 42mm

Buying a Rolex Explorer II Reference 216570

Since being officially discontinued in 2021, the Rolex Explorer II reference 216750 is no longer in production and it is entirely unavailable at a retail level. This means that the pre-owned market is now the only place where you can find one for sale. With that in mind, given that the Rolex Explorer II 216750 was in production for a full decade, both black and white “Polar” dials versions are still readily available on the secondary market.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 Price

The price of a Rolex Explorer II ref. 216570 watch can vary depending on its age, dial color, overall condition, and whether or not the watch still has its original box and papers. As of June 2021, prices for reference 216750 watches can range anywhere between $10,000 to $14,000, which is significantly more than the original retail price of the reference 216570, yet still on the lower side relative to the current prices for modern stainless steel Rolex sports watches.

It is also worth noting that although retail prices were identical for the black and white dial examples of the Explorer II 216750, open-market prices for the “Polar” models are noticeably higher, with some collectors willing to pay up to a few thousand dollars more for an otherwise identical watch that has a white “Polar” dial. Additionally, this trend is not exclusive to just the reference 216570, and nearly all “Polar” Explorer II watches, regardless of reference, are worth more than their classic black dial counterparts.

Rolex Explorer II 216570 42mm Watches

What to Look for When Buying a Rolex Explorer II 216570

As far as what to look for when buying a Rolex Explorer II, all of the usual rules when shopping for a pre-owned Rolex still apply. Rolex is the most famous luxury brand in the world and it is a popular target for counterfeiters. It is estimated that there are now more fake Rolex watches in existence than the real thing, and this means that it is now more important than ever before to only buy from a trusted and reputable source. The old saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” always applies, and if you ever see an Explorer II for sale at a price that is thousands of dollars less than the other ones you see listed, there is a very good chance that the watch is not authentic.

Additionally, one thing you can look for when trying to spot a fake is the independently adjustable hour hands. On all Rolex Explorer II reference 216570 watches, the 12-hour hand is independently adjustable from the 24-hour hand, and rather than jumping the date forward like on most watches, turning the winding crown while it is in the second position will jump the  12-hour hand forwards or backward in one-hour increments. This feature is difficult and expensive to manufacture, and the vast majority of fake Explorer II watches do not offer this functionality.

For much of its history, the Rolex Explorer II has been one of the most underrated and overlooked watches from the brand’s entire catalog. However, that has entirely changed within the last several years. As Rolex’s other sports watches like the Submariner, Daytona, and GMT-Master II continue to become entirely unattainable at a retail level, buyers have been turning to other collections and the global popularity of the reference 216570 Explorer II has sky-rocketed. Today, prices for Rolex Explorer II watches are right up there with the rest of the brand’s sports models, and since the ref. 216570 offers a very similar overall appearance as the current-production model, it is highly likely that demand (and therefore prices) will continue to stay strong, and it will only become more difficult and expensive to add one of these adventure-ready watches to your collection.

Rolex Polar Explorer II 216570 Orange Hand

The post Rolex Explorer II 216570 Ultimate Review and Guide appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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COMEX Rolex Submariner 16610 Ultimate Review and Guide

The Rolex Submariner is easily one of the undisputed icons of horology and widely regarded as the most famous dive watch of all time and one of the most desirable watches in the world. First launched in 1953, the Submariner was one of the world’s very first dive watches and the first one capable of […] The post COMEX Rolex Submariner 16610 Ultimate Review and Guide appeared first on Bob's Watches.

COMEX Rolex Submariner 16610 Ultimate Review and Guide

The Rolex Submariner is easily one of the undisputed icons of horology and widely regarded as the most famous dive watch of all time and one of the most desirable watches in the world. First launched in 1953, the Submariner was one of the world’s very first dive watches and the first one capable of achieving a depth rating of 100 meters. The Submariner helped pioneer an entire genre of underwater timepieces and nearly every single dive watch in existence today was in some way influenced by the Rolex Submariner.

Due to its iconic design and legendary reputation, the Submariner exists in a rather rare and unusual position in that there truly are no undesirable iterations of it. Even the most plentiful and affordable Submariner references from twenty or thirty years ago are still trading hands for almost the same price as what Rolex charges for a brand-new Submariner watch, and there are rare and collectible vintage examples that have been known to break the million-dollar mark at auction. However, among all Submariner watches, the rarest and most collectible are easily those that were either issued to the military – or in the case of this particular example, issued to the French deep-sea diving company COMEX.

Rolex Submariner Reference 16610 COMEX

COMEX Submariner 16610 Key Features:

– Reference Number: 16610

– Production Years: 1986 – 1997 (approx); Additional Small Batch in 2003 / 2004

– Materials: Stainless Steel

– Functions: Time w/ Running Seconds, Date Display

– Dial: Black w/ Luminous Hour Markers

– Bezel: Unidirectional, Black Aluminum Insert w/ 60-Minute Scale

– Crystal: Sapphire (Flat w/ Cyclops Lens)

– Movement: Rolex Caliber 3135

– Water Resistance: 300 Meters / 1,000 Feet

– Strap/Bracelet: Oyster Bracelet

– Other Notable Features: ‘COMEX’ logo on dial; Engraving on Caseback

Click here for our Ultimate Buying Guide on the Rolex Submariner 16610.

Rolex Submariner 16610 COMEX DIal

COMEX and Rolex

Founded in 1961 by Henri Germain Delauze, Compagnie Maritime d’Expertises – better known as COMEX – is a French deep-sea diving company that has done pioneering work in the field of robotics, saturation diving, and underwater exploration. COMEX primarily caters to commercial diving applications rather than the recreational scuba diving industry, and also works closely with the European Space Agency (ESA) and its astronaut training program to develop advanced habitat life support systems and hyperbaric oxygen therapy facilities for use in outer space and deep below the surface of the ocean.

As an industry leader in the newfound category of dive watches, Rolex shared a common goal with COMEX, and both companies were interested in reaching greater depths and being able to stay down longer. In 1970, Rolex and COMEX established a mutually beneficial partnership in which Rolex would supply the French diving company with Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches and in exchange, COMEX would provide real-world testing data and analysis on the timepieces’ performance.

Rolex used COMEX as a test-bed for many of its dive watch technologies, and innovations such as the Helium Escape Valve found on the Rolex Sea-Dweller are a direct result of the collaborative partnership between these two brands. Rolex no longer supplies watches to COMEX, and since the partnership between these two brands helped shape dive watches as we know them today, these COMEX-issued Rolex models are now representative of an important time in watchmaking history. Consequently, the various Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches that were issued to COMEX now rank among the most valuable and collectible Rolex models in existence.

COMEX Rolex Submariner 16610

Rolex COMEX Watches

Rolex supplied both Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches to COMEX from approximately 1970 until 1997 (although it is believed that an additional small order of watches was placed around 2003 or 2004). During this time, a number of different references were issued to COMEX divers and employees, including one entirely exclusive to COMEX – the reference 5514, which is essentially a Submariner ref. 5513 that has been retrofitted with a helium gas escape valve.

Among the COMEX-issued Rolex dive watches, a wide range of variation exists – even among two examples of the same reference. For instance, some reference 5513 Submariner watches were issued to COMEX divers in their standard configuration and possess nothing more than the COMEX identification engravings on their casebacks. However, other COMEX Submariner 5513 watches feature helium escape valves fitted to the side of their cases (just like the Sea-Dweller). Additionally, some feature the COMEX logo on their dials while others do not.

Some of these COMEX-issued Rolex watches are more-or-less standard Submariner or Sea-Dweller models, while others such as the HEV-fitted ref. 5513 and COMEX-exclusive ref. 5514 are entirely unique and unlike any other watches that Rolex has produced, vintage or modern. With that in mind, it is often those that actually have the COMEX logo on their dials that are considered to be the most valuable and expensive. Co-branded Rolex dials are incredibly rare and desirable as a whole, and the vintage Submariner and Sea-Dweller models that have the COMEX logo on them are widely considered to be some of the most valuable and collectible co-branded Rolex dials available.

Rolex COMEX Submariner 16610 Caseback Engraving

Rolex Watches Issued to COMEX

– Submariner Ref. 5513

– Submariner Ref. 5514 (COMEX exclusive)

– Sea-Dweller Ref. 1665

– Submariner Ref. 1680

– Sea-Dweller Ref. 16660

– Submariner Ref. 16800

– Submariner Ref. 168000

– Sea-Dweller Ref. 16600

– Submariner Ref. 16610 

Although the relationship between Rolex and COMEX spanned nearly three decades and a number of different watch references were issued during the partnership, it is estimated that there are no more than a couple hundred examples of any single reference. Simply due to production numbers alone, these COMEX-issued Rolex watches are incredibly rare and the fact that some were lost, damaged, or otherwise destroyed over the years has only made the total number in existence even smaller.

It is also worth noting that the purpose of the COMEX-issued Rolex watches changed during the relationship. During the early years, COMEX divers relied on their Rolex Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches as essential pieces of diving equipment, and nearly all examples saw rigorous active use. However, closer to the end of the partnership, the various COMEX Submariner and Sea-Dweller models became presentation or commemorative watches for employees of the deep-sea diving company.

Rolex Submariner COMEX 16610 Dive Watch

COMEX Submariner 16610

By the time that the Submariner Date reference 16610 first made an appearance in the late 1980s, diving technology had already advanced past the point where COMEX divers were relying on their mechanical wristwatches as their sole timekeeping devices. Although Rolex would continue to deliver Submariner and Sea-Dweller watches to COMEX for roughly a full decade after this, rarely were they used for actual deep-sea diving, and instead were presented to COMEX executives and other high-ranking employees.

Rolex Submariner 16610 COMEX watches can be found with serial number engravings that fall within the range of 1986 to 1997, although the reference 16610 itself did not make its formal public appearance until closer to 1988. Additionally, it is estimated that only around a couple of hundred total examples were produced during the ten-year period that ref. 16610 watches were being delivered to COMEX. Additionally, as many of these watches did not see commercial diving use, it is not uncommon to find these reference 16610 Submariner watches in significantly better condition than some of their older COMEX-issued predecessors.

The reference 16610 is the last Rolex model to feature the iconic COMEX logo on its dial, and the relationship between the two brands ended before the subsequent generation of Submariner watches was introduced. Additionally, with the exception of their dials and case-0back engravings, COMEX 16610 watches are otherwise identical to standard-production reference 16610 Submariner watches, and they do not include any additional features such as the prototype helium escape valves found on reference 5514 watches.

Rolex COMEX Submariner reference 16610

Rolex and COMEX: An Enduring Legacy

Generally speaking, reference 16610 COMEX Submariner watches are more affordable than other COMEX-branded Rolex references, but that does not mean they are at all easy to find, nor does that imply that they are in any way financially accessible. Regardless of the specific reference or its unique attributes, all COMEX Submariner watches are considered to be among the most desirable and collectible Rolex models in existence.

What makes COMEX-branded Rolex watches so rare and collectible is that they were never sold by any stores, boutiques, or authorized retailers. Simply put, there was no way for the average person to just go out and buy a COMEX-branded Rolex watch for themselves. Instead, these co-branded watches were only issued to COMEX divers and other top company officials. Additionally, these watches were produced in extremely low quantities and many feature unique details that you won’t find on any standard-production Rolex models.

Co-branded Rolex dials are incredibly rare and even the least auspicious examples typically garner some serious attention. However, the collecting world’s fascination with COMEX-issued watches transcends that of just co-branded dials and is intertwined with the history and heritage that serves as the foundation of the Rolex brand. Long before Rolex was the world’s single most famous luxury manufacturer, the company was known for producing some of the world’s toughest and most reliable tool watches that could thrive in environments that would simply destroy lesser timepieces. Arguably no other Rolex watches are more emblematic of that pioneering spirit than the COMEX Submariner and Sea-Dweller models, and the dive watch industry as we know it today was forever shaped by the partnership between these two pioneering brands.

COMEX Dial Rolex Submariner 16610 Dive Watch

The post COMEX Rolex Submariner 16610 Ultimate Review and Guide appeared first on Bob's Watches.

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