Hands on review of the Rolex Explorer II 216570 white dial

Dec 25, 2020,04:57 AM

I wished to come back to the Rolex Explorer II 216570 white dial, which is certainly not a new model, but which still has a special place in the Rolex catalog almost 10 years after its presentation at the 2011 edition of Baselworld. In fact, there are two fundamental reasons that explain its singularity. The first is its aesthetics and the second is related to the nature of its movement.

Clearly inspired by the 1655 reference as evidenced by its third orange hand, the Rolex Explorer II 216570 white dial remains a very contemporary reference. It surprised in 2011 because of its 42mm diameter which generated a lot of comments. Such a diameter is nowadays much more accepted and Rolex uses it more frequently (even offers some watches with larger diameters). The Sky-Dweller has an equivalent diameter. Nevertheless, in the professional watch segment, only the Yacht-Master 42 has the same size. Other steel models are more imposing (Sea-Dweller, Yacht-Master II) but the conclusion is there: today, the Explorer II 216570 is the only professional Rolex available in a 42mm diameter and with a steel case. This is a point not to be neglected because at this level every millimetre counts. The 40mm diameter for some may seem too small (let's not forget that with Rolex the perceived diameter remains very controlled given the thickness of the bezel) and the 42mm diameter then appears much more satisfactory. In any case, it was a good choice from Rolex at the time to propose such a change of case because it allowed to bring diversity of sizes in the catalog.

The reference 216570 is available in two versions, with white or black dial. I personally have a preference for the white dial version. It brings a more relaxed touch to the watch, allows the orange hand to stand out better and reinforces the originality of the watch. Because, on this point too, it's important to remember that professional Rolexes with a white dial (and when I say white, it's neither slate nor silver nor rhodium) do not represent the majority of cases. Finally, the main virtue of the white dial is to increase the perceived size of the watch. I also find that the aesthetics of the bezel integrates better with the white dial than with the black dial.

Of course, Rolex did not simply increase the diameter. The brand worked on both the dial and the movement to preserve the balance of this reference. The work on the dial consisted in enlarging the indexes and hands to keep pleasant proportions and avoid empty zones. The dial is harmonious and nicely executed. I really like the contrast between the black contours of the hands, indexes and the white dial. It gives personality to the watch. Moreover, the orange hand and the orange inscription bring fun and make the piece avoid falling into a too serious and austere style. Note that this dial uses a Chromalight display with blue luminescent material.

The other element that explains the balance of the dial is the caliber 3187. This caliber occupies a special place at Rolex since it animates only the reference 216570. It is an evolution of the caliber 3186 which equipped the previous Explorer II. It was revised to take into account the enlarged diameter of the watch. The plate is thus enlarged just like several components. From a technical point of view, it differs from the caliber 3186 by the presence of the Paraflex shock absorber. Otherwise, the two calibers 3186 and 3187 share the same technical solutions and the same architecture. The 3187 caliber therefore comes from a previous generation of the 3285 caliber of the current GMT-Master II. The power reserve of the 3187 caliber is 48 hours compared to 70 hours for the 3285 caliber. This power reserve is of course sufficient given the excellent efficiency of the winding system. The question arises when the watch is not being worn, but... the vocation of the Explorer II 216570 is to accompany its owner everywhere thanks to its great versatility, its water resistance of 100 meters and its Twinlock crown.

We tend to forget it, obsessed as we are by the GMT-Master II, but the reference 216570 is an excellent alternative to this GMT-Master II for all those who are looking for a dual time zone watch. Admittedly, the 24-hour bezel is fixed and therefore the watch does not have the capacity, unlike the GMT-Master II, to handle a third time zone. But the main functions remain the same.

Originally, the spirit of the Explorer II was to integrate a day&night display with an additional hand linked to the main hour hand. However, due to the independent adjustment of the hour hand in relation to the additional hand, the additional hand can be used as a reference time hand (home time) while the hour hand becomes the local time hand. In short, a real display integrating two time zones. The watch has been transformed over time from an arctic explorer's (or submarine crew member's) instrument into a travel instrument. It assumes this status without difficulty because even with its enlarged diameter, it can be worn with great comfort thanks to the Oyster bracelet and the Oysterlock clasp with the Easylink extension.

In any case, I really like this watch. Probably because it is not necessarily labeled as one of the "basic" models of the Rolex universe. However, it has many assets: its unique style highlighted by the white dial, an exclusive movement, a very great versatility, a rarer diameter and dare we say it in these complicated times of availability of professional Rolex watches in steel: an access perhaps easier (but everything is relative, we know it very well ...). This is why I consider the reference 216570 with white dial as one of the most attractive watches in the current Rolex catalog.


More posts: 1655216570ExplorerExplorer IIFreccioneSky Dweller

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Comments: view entire thread


It is a very robust timepiece like any other Rolex...

 By: mahesh : December 25th, 2020-06:16
I used to have one in black...great wrist presence

Yes there are excellent reasons for supporting a 40mm+ case!

 By: chk : December 25th, 2020-07:03
Some dials breathe better with air / space. I appreciate this review!

One of my favorite modern Rolex...

 By: jporos : December 25th, 2020-07:23
Great review once again, FX!

Great write-up of a fine piece of a true Explorer tic-tac.

 By: hs111 : December 25th, 2020-09:03
Thx for the extensive & very informative review, including great pics ( BTW: the lume shot is really cool ) ! Best for the remainder of the Holiday Season ! hs

Excellent, thorough...thank you!

 By: nacelle : December 25th, 2020-15:33
One of the favs in my collection...

In hindsight, it became a classic

 By: Cookies : December 25th, 2020-21:38
I remembered when it was released, I held the sentiment that the piece did not need an upsizing. Now in hindsight, I have come to like this piece quite a lot. I much prefer this to the GMTmaster as the steel bezel looks less busy and more suited to the mo... 

Thanks for this excellent review

 By: Alfihar : December 25th, 2020-22:17
Was not hunting this watch but I’ve just bought one at AD while I was looking for the discontinued MG without GV. The more I wear I the more I like it.... A special place in SS models. Bigger than others, coolest with Orange hand and different dial. Thank...