02.02.2021 - Rolex

Our predictions for the Rolex Explorer II anniversary model

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the Rolex Explorer II and after months of lockdown, we’re expecting big things to celebrate. The Swiss brand has previously released some golden anniversary versions of the Rolex Submariner, Rolex Daytona and Rolex Sea-Dweller but will the new Explorer model be completely new or the 1971 edition (ref 1665) with a few nifty upgrades?

Rolex is well known for its subtle design choices that it has made on other golden anniversary models and very often the celebratory model has included Rolex’ primary brand colour, green. The Kermit (aka The Submariner, ref 16610LV) was so named due to its green bezel and was warmly welcomed by collectors on its 50th anniversary. Even today, it’s incredibly difficult to get hold of. 

A stunning emerald dial gave the 50th anniversary of the GMT-Master II (ref 116718LN)  a slick new look. It made headlines because it was the very first Rolex to include the Cerachrom ceramic bezel, making it immune to fading and resistant scratching. 

So what can we expect from the new Rolex Explorer II watch? Here are some predictions from the Luxe Watches team. 

Green 24-hour hand

Could watch fans be set to see green hands or numerals on the monochrome vision? The original model had a bright orange 24-hour hand and was blasted for it at the time  as it was incredibly different from the Submariner and GMT Master in production back then. Could the 50th anniversary see a green hand in its place?

Stainless steel bracelet

We imagine the bracelet will be stainless steel, making it more widely accessible. While many Rolex models move into two-tone metals at this stage, we’re not convinced this would suit the rugged history of the timepiece. However titanium would be a fabulous material – non-corrosive and hard-wearing for this tool-watch.

However, we’d like to see them do something with the crown side of the case. It’s just flat with no other details – not like the hefty GMT.

Smaller coloured dial 

Could the dial be brought down to 38-40mm? The most recent version of the model is currently at 42mm, the size reduction would be a welcome change in our view.

While some vintage explorer watches do exist with white dials from the 1950s, they are incredibly rare, with a handful circulating. A lighter dial would seem like a sensible next step but we do prefer the white or black dials.


When we got a first glimpse of the Explorer II (ref 216570) at Baselworld 2011, it was the first Rolex watch to utilise the then new Calibre 3187. It was an exciting and innovative movement, and still offers great technicality, benefiting from a Parachrom hairspring, Paraflex shock absorbers, superlative chronometer certification and more. We’d really like to see them update the calibre on the 50th edition from the current 3187 to the 3200 calibre series to give a 70-hour power reserve and be incredibly energy-efficient.

Our team is here to help

If you’d like to buy or sell your new or pre-worn Rolex, we’d be happy to help. Our sales team loves a challenge and would love to track down particular models for you. If we can assist, make an appointment with us today.