The New Rolex Explorer II 226570

Rolex Explorer II 226570 vs 216570

While Rolex is typically secretive, a redesign or new edition can be expected from The Crown when it has a milestone to celebrate. For the Rolex Explorer II’s 50th anniversary this year, it was given subtle upgrades while maintaining its adventurous spirit.

Made especially for cave explorers and spelunkers in 1971, legibility and comfort are at the core of the Rolex Explorer II. The redesigned ref 226570 sought to improve these two traits.

Most eyes will not notice the difference, so we’re giving you a rundown of the discreet but meaningful changes to the new Rolex Explorer II.


Rolex Explorer II ref 226570 vs ref 216570
Rolex Explorer II ref 226570 vs ref 216570


Classic finish remains

There was a lot of speculation that the Rolex Explorer II will be given the matte Cerachrom-bezel treatment, but there’s no ceramic here. You’ll still find the radially brushed steel bezel with 24-hour gradations, which is a hallmark of the Explorer II.

The oversized 42mm case was retained, and the watch is still brushed on flat surfaces, while the case bands are polished. If there was any change with the finish, it’s that the sapphire crystal and Cyclops lens now come with anti-reflective coating on the inner surface.


Previous generation Rolex Explorer II 216570 vs New 2021 Rolex Explorer II 226570
Previous generation Rolex Explorer II 216570 vs New 2021 Rolex Explorer II 226570

Better proportions and more comfortable wear

While the new ref 226570 is still 42mm wide, Rolex changed the proportions of the case and bracelet to bring better visual balance – a change that we have seen in the new Submariner collection released in 2020.

This same formula was applied to the Explorer II, where the inner faces of the lugs have been shaved and the bracelet was made 1mm wider than before. The crown guards are also slightly thinner and more angled.



White gold and matte hands

The new Rolex Explorer II still comes with an option of a black and white dial; and we see a few key changes with each version.

The black dial version used to have a blackened center portion for the hour, minute and GMT hand. We now see all-white gold Mercedes hands and a fully-orange GMT hand.


Rolex Explorer II 226570 Up Close
Rolex Explorer II 226570 Up Close


Meanwhile, the Polar dial version retains the fully-blackened outline on the hour, minute and seconds hands and on the hour markers – only this time they come with a matte PVD coated finish that helps with reading the dial more easily.

What’s more, the hands and markers also come with the enhanced Chromalight lume, which glows brighter and lasts longer.


Previous generation Rolex Explorer II 216570 vs New 2021 Rolex Explorer II 226570
Previous generation Rolex Explorer II 216570 vs New 2021 Rolex Explorer II 226570



Bracelet and clasp

The new Explorer II also received the latest version of the Oyster bracelet. It comes equipped with the new Oysterlock folding clasp, which closes more securely and feels thinner on the wrist. The Easylink comfort extension link remained, which allows the wearer to increase the bracelet length by about 5mm.


Rolex Caliber 3285 Movement
Rolex Caliber 3285 Movement


New generation movement

The most significant addition to the Explorer II models is the new in-house Caliber 3285 automatic movement. First seen on the current GMT-Master II watches, this movement operates at 4Hz and comes with three days of power reserve. The “Superlative Chronometer” movement also comes with an impressive accuracy of plus or minus two seconds per day.

What you’ll get is a more accurate and efficient movement that lasts longer without the need for winding. A small Rolex coronet at 6 o’clock signifies this important advancement.



The new Rolex Explorer II ref 226570 was given a few serious upgrades, while still being the rugged and sporty adventure watch we’ve come to know. Explore our collection of Rolex Explorer II models at



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