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Rolex got its start making watches for specialized trades. For instance, the Submariner was one of the first true dive watches, the Air King was for pilots and the Milgauss with its antimagnetic properties for scientists.

 In the early fifties Rolex created the Explorer for, well, explorers, but later they added the oddest watch line of all, the Explorer II.

This watch line intended to serve the needs of cave explorers and spelunkers and featured an extra orange hand that showed it was daytime if it was on the right side of the face and night if on the left. It also boasted a 24 hour bezel.

The target user for this was supposedly anyone who spent inordinate time in black areas where day and night were not clearly defined. They also added Arctic and Antarctic explorers to the fold. To be fair they would only need it for a couple of months a year.

I have no idea how many Explorer II sold to spelunkers but I do know that a great amount of enthusiasts embraced this line of watches keeping them in production for decades.

You may not have a need for a watch that differentiates day from night in the dark, but you might want a watch that is just plain this cool.

The Exporer II is markedly different from other Rolex watches while at the same time clearly and easily defined as a Rolex offering.

If you want a special vintage Rolex then I would whole-heartedly recommend this 1984 Rolex Explorer II reference number 16550.

It has just enough wear to show great provenance but not enough to appear beaten up or unloved. To the uninitiated observer it appears in immaculate condition bestowing on its owner the best of both worlds.

David Charles Grainger

1984 Rolex Explorer II Black Dial Stainless Steel Wristwatch

  • Brand: Rolex
    Type: Wristwatch
    Model Name: Explorer II
    Model Number: 16550
    Serial Number: 8,4XX,XXX
    Bezel Material: Stainless Steel
    Case Material: Stainless Steel
    Caseback Material: Stainless Steel
    Movement: 3085 Automatic, 27 Jewels
    Estimated Production Year: 1984
    Markings to Inside: 16550, Stainless Steel, Montres Rolex S.A., Geneva Switzerland
    Functions: Date
    Clasp Style: Fold Over

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