First look at the 2021 Rolex Explorer II 226570

First impressions of the slightly updated Explorer II

Following the release of the 2021 new Rolex watches yesterday, we had the opportunity to have the first (and fast) hands-on operation with most of these newly launched models. In addition to the cool (at least for us) 36mm Explorer in Oystersteel or gold steel and the quite eye-catching Daytona meteorite version, the Crown also showcased an update to its most durable explorer watch. Now that we have this 2021 Rolex Explorer II 226570 on our wrist, we can give you the first impression.

Regarding the previous version of this watch, please refer to it. 216570, this is a quick reminder. This version was produced from 2011 to 2021 and was launched for the 40th anniversary of this model. It pays tribute to the earliest generation with an oversized orange 24-hour hand. The case becomes larger, reaching 42 mm, and the radially drawn bezel remains fixed, but the markings are more eye-catching. Mechanically, this 216570 is equipped with a 3187 movement, which has an independent dual time function. With the evolution of the case, the dial became a “Maxi” with large luminous markers and hands. The white model retains the smooth black outline markings, while the black model retains the polished platinum markings. Like all predecessors, it is waterproof to 100 meters.

You can see the comparison between the discontinued 216570 and the newly launched 226570. Although not shown at the exact same angle, these two images can compare the changes on Explorer II-and our hands-on meeting allowed us to confirm what we explained in the introduction article. First, let’s get to the topic. From 216570 to 226570, we are talking about minimal updates, most of the elements are the same… or at least very close in shape, size, or execution. Rolex plays its role safely here.

First, it is important that the brand retains the classic-somehow symbolic-stainless steel bezel found on this model from 1971 to the present. There is no ceramic here-the comments we saw when we posted the imagined version with a black bezel on Instagram, it might be better…so we still find the radial brushed bezel, engraved with a 24-hour scale and filled with black . At first glance, the font and size of the numbers/triangles are the same. Therefore, please rest assured that the most unique elements of the Rolex Explorer II are still there.

As for the case, the difference is subtle, but there are. First of all, the oversized 42mm case is retained, the watch is still completely brushed on the flat surface, and the strap is polished-a classic Rolex. The case is made of Oystersteel and still has a crown guard, but they look slightly redesigned-more angled than before. We also saw something in the 2020 version of Submariner. The back cover is also a typical Rolex, screwed and without inscriptions, and the crown is a classic Twinlock. Both ensure 100m waterproof performance. Finally, if the sapphire crystal still bears the brand’s iconic Cyclops, its inner surface is now completely coated with anti-reflective coating.

And the case of this Rolex Explorer II 226570 has more (discreetly) updates. If you remember the new Submariner series launched in September 2020, Rolex has played a better visual balance in the proportions of the case, mainly by expanding the bracelet, resulting in thinner lugs. 2021 Explorer II also uses the same formula, the bracelet is about 1 mm larger than before, and the inner surface of the lugs has also been shaved. The external shape of the lugs remains almost unchanged, so the new visual balance is mainly due to the width of the strap. Of course, we are talking about minor changes, and only a trained eye can discover the new version.

For the rest, the bracelet is still equipped with Oysterlock folding safety clasp and Easylink comfortable extension link (extended by about 5 mm). The overall feel quality is typical of Rolex, and the watch is perfectly adjusted and executed. The jump from one generation to the next is almost imperceptible, even if the brushed finish feels slightly better than before-again, this is the smallest.

On the wrist, the Rolex Explorer II 226570 still feels like the rugged large sports watch we know in the past. The 42mm diameter solid steel case/bracelet combination constitutes a large and heavy watch, but there is nothing new here. This was already the case in the previous generation. The new ratio of bracelet and lugs brings a better visual balance on the wrist, perhaps more comfortable.

As for the dial, in addition to the new Swiss made inscription with the Rolex crown, the update is mainly the white version. The black version retains the platinum-coated hour markers, but now has new hands, fully polished, replacing the partially blackened “floating” hands. On the other hand, the white dial has changed on a larger scale. On the previous model 216570, the pointers and markers are coated with a black coating and the surface is shiny. On the new Explorer II 226570 “polar”, they are made of platinum and later coated with a matte PVD treatment. The idea is to bring better contrast and avoid reflections.

Rolex also mentioned that the time scales and hands now benefit from an optimized Chromalight display. During the day, these display elements also have a brighter white hue, and the intensity of the blue light emitted by the hour markers and hands now lasts longer. Finally, the unique oversized orange 24-hour hand still exists, which can be used as a day and night indicator or as an independent dual time display.

The most noticeable update of this 2021 Rolex Explorer II 226570 is its movement, because this new reference uses the same engine as the current GMT-Master II series. It is now equipped with Calibre 3285, which is part of a new-generation movement produced by Rolex and is available in almost all models recently launched. This modern engine uses an optimized Chronergy escapement and blue Parachrome hairspring. It beats at a frequency of 4 Hz and stores a power reserve of up to 70 hours. Of course, the movement is the most advanced observatory, with an accuracy of -2/+2 seconds/day.

As mentioned earlier, it is a dual-time movement, and the hands corresponding to the local time can be adjusted independently in one-hour increments-the main difference with the Greenwich II is that the bezel is fixed, which means Explorer II can only display 2 time zones instead of 3 time zones like GMT watches.

In short, the update is minimal, and changes, at least in habillage watches, only involve some details. Respect the overall feel of the older generation of watches, only the movement is the real update. As for the exact measurement, we need to look at it again, because we only have a few minutes to see the watch.

Technical specifications-Rolex EXPLORER II 226570
Case: 42 mm in diameter-Oystersteel case, brushed and polished-Brushed stainless steel bezel, engraved with black filled 24-hour scale-Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating-Screw-in double lock crown-Swivel Drop-in bottom cover-100 meters water resistance
Dial: Black or white lacquered dial-applied platinum matt black PVD ​​coating (white version) or white gold polished (black version) hour markers and hands-Chromalight on the hands and hour markers
Movement: Homemade 3285 calibre-top observatory-automatic winding-31 rubies-28,800 times/hour-blue Parachrom hairspring and Chronergy escapement-70 hours power reserve-horizontal balance bridge-hours, minutes, Seconds, date and independent second time zone
Bracelet: Oyster-style brushed Oystersteel bracelet-Oyster-style folding safety clasp-Easylink comfortable extension link (approximately 5 mm)
Reference: M226570-0001 white
M226570-0002 black