Rolex Explorer II
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
When Rolex introduced the Explorer II, their slogan was “You can tell by the men who wear them.”
One man whom Rolex profiled in advertisements was Jean-François Pernette.
At the age of thirteen he became enamored of the world “at the center of the Earth.” He spent his youth exploring the caves of Bordeaux and the Pyrenees. It was there in the mountains between Spain and France that he made his first discovery: an underground river in the Massif de la Pierre-Saint-Martin that had never before been seen by human eyes.
And in 1980, at the age of twenty-six, he would lead the first expedition to an underground river in the remote interior of Papua New Guinea.
On his wrist the entire time was an Explorer II… which certainly didn’t receive any special treatment throughout the expedition.
Pernette wrote: “Moisture, sand, mud, and especially frequent and violent shocks against the rocky walls—I spared it nothing. During the expedition to New Guinea, all my teammates counted on it to give them the time, day or night.”
The Explorer II’s sturdy Oyster case withstood the “frequent and violent shocks” that Pernette subjected it to, and told the time—day or night—with a 24-hour hand and fixed 24-hour steel bezel.
Though the Explorer II was produced in far fewer numbers than other Rolex sports models like the Submariner and GMT, it has gained a cult following among collectors who admire it for its rugged coolness—in all environments, whether above the Earth’s surface or below it.
This particular Explorer II is a Reference 16550 minted in the mid-1980s. Unlike its predecessor the Reference 1655, which bore a distinctive orange hand, the Reference 16550—like many other Rolex sports models of the 1980s—got a luxury makeover that doesn’t detract from the rugged appeal of the watch. The glossy black dial was equipped with round luminous markers with white gold surrounds, a sapphire crystal, a wider steel bezel with a fatter fat, and a red 24-hour hand.
As a transitional model, the Reference 16550 bridges the gap between the Reference 1655 and the Reference 16570. Since it was only produced from 1985 to 1989, it’s become a highly sought-after model. Seamlessly blending the old and the new, the Reference 16550 is a tough-as-nails tool watch that you can wear anywhere.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Rolex Explorer II