Well, we are, at least, after yesterday’s Grieb & Benzinger post.  Regardless, I wanted to write about a watch that’s been bubbling around in my head for some months now for no good reason – the Rolex Explorer II.

Now, before we get too far into this – I am by no means immersed in all the minutae of the Rolex culture.  While I can appreciate the styling and patina of a vintage Submariner, say, I couldn’t tell you what distinguishes one from another, or tacks another zero onto the end of the price tag.

From RolexWorld Blog
From RolexWorld Blog

What I can say, however, is what I like.  There have been elements of previous watches that have spoken to me (such as the CW Trident or Bernhardt Binnacle Anchor), and I’ve come to realize that they’re homages to aspects of various Rolex models.


So, why hone in on the Explorer II?  First and foremost, I point out the case design.  It’s simple and sturdy (but not over built), and it’s practically timeless.  Next up, the dial – the arctic white, set in that stainless case, just really sings.


Finally, we’ve got the movement.  Can I tell you what calibre it is?  No, I can’t.  But I know that it’s an COSC-certified automatic, and that it’s got two of the most useful complications I’ve run across (date display and GMT hand), and that counts for a lot.


Of course, for better or worse (depending on who you ask), the movement (and, indeed, the whole watch) carries the history of Rolex (and modern-day Rolex) along with it.  For me, it all adds up to the watch I would get if I had to only have one single watch in my collection (of course, I’d have to sell everything I have off to get saving kick-started for a Rolex, but that’s another story).


So, are you likely to see this in a hands-on review on these pages?  Probably not – it’s not the sort of watch most of our readers would purchase (I don’t believe, but if I’m wrong, let us know in the comments, or drop me an email), and that’s not really the focus of this blog (or this reviewer).  That said, the classics like this that can clarify what your ideal of a watch is – and keep you focused on a future collecting goal.

Let us know in the comments (or email, if you like) what you consider to be your perfect, “own only one watch” grail in the comments below.

ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

18 thoughts on “As Long As We’re On The Subject of High End Watches”
  1. Patrick, I think I’d have to agree with you, for many of the same reasons. What I really like about the ExII (and the Explorer, for that matter), is that they have all the virtues of a Rolex without their chief drawbacks: wankers. Wankers all seem to have Subs, Pepsi GMT-Masters or Daytonas.

  2. I think it’s unfortunate that a quality watch brand would be judged on its constituency, but I understand your point, Ben.

    I recently bought a GMT Master II-c, and this from a guy who never thought he’d ever want a Rolex. Too flashy, too common. Still, after wearing it for a while, it has become the “one watch” that I would chose if I had to get rid of every other one. The GMT complication is enhanced by the rotating bezel, the date is useful. Rolex does GMT properly, so you can easily set local time without hacking the second or minute hand. I love this watch.

    I evaluated the Explorer II at the same time but settled on the Master II for a few personal—not pragmatic—reasons. The Explorer II is slightly larger, and wore much larger on my wrist. I already have small wrists and it was already pushing my limits in size and bling. Also, I felt that the Master had more of a aviation/travel heritage, and my purchase was to commemorate the start of a new job that would involve more travel. Again, personal reasons. Aesthetically, I actually prefer the original Explorer II with line indices, honestly; I’m not a fan of the update.

    Lastly, Rolexes are rugged. Really rugged. The parachrom hairsprings and tank-like cases make most Rolexes durable against impact, water, and magnetic fields—and all of them are COSC certified.

    Anyway, this year has served to elevate my opinion of the brand, starting from a fairly cynical viewpoint. Just my two cents.

  3. I’m glad to see your comments here – I know Rolex can be a polarizing brand, to put it kindly. I wasn’t sure what sort of feedback to expect!

  4. I’ll agree as well. It’s a watch that says to everyone “I have arrived and can afford this Rolex.” That said I’ve always liked the way the oyster case looked whether on a GMT, Sub or Explorer. I have a 1970 GMT Red/Blue. It was given to my Father by his Father In-law when I was born and in turn given to me when my daughter was born and when I have my first grandchild I’ll send the watch forward. That, I think, is the draw. The designs haven’t changed much. They are built well, are a good size and are easily serviced. I saw that Rolex on my Dad’s wrist my whole life and that’s what started my passion for watches. Now he wears a gold Presidential and that’s his only watch. I have a variety Omega, Ventura, Yema, Archimede, Revue Thommen…but the Rolex will always be a special piece to me. I see a lot of Rolexs and hear people complain that the watch stops when you don’t wear it…just because you have the money doesn’t mean you know anything about that watch other than it goes with your belt.

  5. RonKat, great post. That, in a nutshell, are part of what having a Rolex is really all about – becoming a family heirloom.

    I think this Explorer II and the new Milgaus are opening a lot doors for people new to what a Rolex is all about.

    And remember, Steve McQueen wore a Explorer…no one ever referred to him as a …wanker.

  6. I’ll say this, Rolex is a watchmakers brand, if you have ever serviced a rolex, you want one – its that simple. Sure, its not a perfect watch(mechanically speaking, im not talking looks), but its clean, its simple and elegant(again, mechanically). Their chrono is perhaps the best chrono there is.
    However, Rolex is not high end, i mean, ye, its out of reach for most(me included), but it isnt high end. Its called moyenne gamme, or middle range. High end is Jaegers gyro tourbillon, Kari voutilainen, Francois Paul Journe, Harry winston Opus(Most of them) etc.

    Since im a watchmaker, id like to wear a Rolex, but work on a Harry winston Opus.

  7. Of course I want to read about the RE2. Especially after your in-depth with Mickey Mouse. Are you kidding? Mickey over Rolex? This is a watch blog, right?

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