The Oyster Perpetual Explorer II is the watch of choice for those who venture to the far corners of the globe, often in extreme environments.
Thanks to its 24-hour display by means of an additional hand and an engraved bezel, the Explorer II allows the wearer to clearly distinguish daytime from night-time hours. Launched in 1971, then restyled in 2011 with a case increased in size to 42 mm, this watch designed for extremes is heir to the privileged relationship that has always united Rolex and exploration. While a restyled case and bracelet have brought enhanced balance and harmony to the Explorer II since 2021, its design remains true to the model’s aesthetic heritage.


Environments such as mountain tops, oceans, volcanoes and polar regions have always been experimental terrain for Rolex. Oyster Perpetual watches accompanied numerous Himalayan expeditions – including the group that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa were part of when they became the first climbers to reach the summit of Everest on 29 May 1953 – and have been worn by explorers venturing to the far corners of the globe, through deserts, at the poles or in the depths of the Earth. In these environments, which are often harsh and poorly understood, distinguishing day from night can become impossible. For speleologists, who spend days at a time in darkness, or polar expeditions travelling under the midnight sun or through endless night, the Explorer II, with its 24-hour display, is an essential part of their equipment.


The Explorer II can also display the time in two time zones simultaneously – when the watch’s additional hand, along with the graduated bezel, is not being used to indicate the time in 24-hour format, a second time zone (reference time) can be read. Local time is shown by the conventional hour hand and can be set easily, with the hour hand ‘jumping’ from hour to hour thanks to a mechanism operated via the winding crown. The adjustment can be made independently of the minute and seconds hands, and without affecting the 24-hour hand (showing the reference time). As a result, the wearer can simultaneously read the local time and a reference time.


The Explorer II is an extremely legible watch in all circumstances. The sleek, high-contrast dial is easy to read even in the dark thanks to the Chromalight display; the hour markers and hands are filled or coated with a luminescent material emitting a long-lasting blue glow – for up to two times longer than traditional phosphorescent materials.


Like all Rolex watches, the Explorer II is covered by the Superlative Chronometer certification redefined by Rolex in 2015. This exclusive designation attests that every watch leaving the brand’s workshops has successfully undergone a series of tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories and according to its own criteria. These certification tests apply to the fully assembled watch, after casing the movement, guaranteeing superlative performance on the wrist in terms of precision, power reserve, waterproofness and self-winding. The Superlative Chronometer status is symbolized by the green seal that comes with every Rolex watch and is coupled with an international five-year guarantee.

The precision of every movement – officially certified as a chronometer by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – is tested a second time by Rolex after being cased, to ensure that it meets criteria that are far stricter than those of the official certification. The precision of a Rolex Superlative Chronometer is of the order of −2/+2 seconds per day – the rate deviation tolerated by the brand for a finished watch is significantly smaller than that accepted by COSC for official certification of the movement alone.

The Superlative Chronometer certification testing is carried out after casing using state-of-the-art equipment specially developed by Rolex and according to an exclusive protocol that simulates the conditions in which a watch is actually worn and more closely represents real-life experience. The entirely automated series of tests also checks the waterproofness, the self-winding capacity and the power reserve of 100 per cent of Rolex watches. These tests systematically complement the qualification testing upstream during development and production, in order to ensure the watches’ reliability, robustness, and resistance to strong magnetic fields and to shocks.


The Explorer II’s Oyster case, 42 mm in diameter and guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness and reliability. The middle case is crafted from a solid block of Oystersteel. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that grants only Rolex watchmakers access to the movement. The Twinlock winding crown, fitted with a double waterproofness system and protected by a crown guard that is an integral part of the middle case, screws down securely against the case. The crystal, with a Cyclops lens at 3 o’clock for easy reading of the date, is made of virtually scratchproof sapphire and benefits from an anti-reflective coating. The waterproof Oyster case provides optimal protection for the movement it houses.


The Explorer II is equipped with calibre 3285, a self-winding mechanical movement entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex. A consummate demonstration of technology, this movement carries a number of patents. It offers outstanding performance, particularly in terms of precision, power reserve, convenience and reliability.

Calibre 3285 incorporates the patented Chronergy escapement, made of nickel-phosphorus, which combines high energy efficiency with great dependability and is also resistant to strong magnetic fields.

The movement is fitted with the blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. In addition to resisting strong magnetic fields, this hairspring offers great stability in the face of temperature variations as well as high resistance to shocks. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring the calibre’s regularity in any position.

The oscillator of calibre 3285 has a large balance wheel with variable inertia regulated extremely precisely via gold Microstella nuts. It is held firmly in place by a height-adjustable traversing bridge enabling very stable positioning to increase shock resistance. The oscillator is also mounted on the Rolex-designed, patented high-performance Paraflex shock absorbers, further enhancing the movement’s shock resistance.

Calibre 3285 is equipped with a self-winding system via a Perpetual rotor, which ensures continuous winding of the mainspring by harnessing the movements of the wrist to provide constant energy. Its oscillating weight has been fitted with an optimized ball bearing since 2023. Thanks to its barrel architecture and the escapement’s superior efficiency, the power reserve of this movement extends to approximately 70 hours.

The Explorer II’s movement will be seen only by certified Rolex watchmakers, yet it is beautifully finished and decorated. Since 2023, it has also been marked with the words ‘Chronometer Perpetual’ and ‘Superlative Adjusted’ engraved respectively on the oscillating weight and on the bridges.


The Explorer II is available on a three-piece link Oyster bracelet. This bracelet is equipped with a Rolex-designed, patented Oysterlock safety clasp, which prevents accidental opening. It is fitted with the Easylink comfort extension link, developed by the brand, which allows the wearer to easily increase the bracelet length by approximately 5 mm, for additional comfort in any circumstance.



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