Before diving straight into the specs of what is considered by many to be an eternal classic in the Rolex lineage, it’s only fair to establish that the following is not a review borne of a week-long wear.
This Polar 16570 has seen wrist time every day for the past 18 months, from 12-hour days at a desk to hiking trips in the Adirondacks as well as long evenings out in Downtown Philadelphia.
True to its name, it held its own in each and every one of these endeavors.
In this review, I’ll be covering the Rolex Explorer II 16570 with the following points:
Use the links above to jump ahead or scroll down to read it all!
- Case Diameter: 40mm
- 42mm with crown
- Case Material: Stainless Steel
- Bezel: Stainless Steel, non-rotating (fixed)
- Bracelet: Oyster, Stainless Steel
- Crystal Material: Scratch-Resistant Sapphire w/ Cyclops
- Case Depth: 12mm
- Lug to Lug: 47mm
- Weight: 126 grams
- Strap Size: 20mm
- Movement: Rolex Manufacture Caliber 3185
- Automatic, Bi-directional winding
- COSC-Chronometer Certified (-4 to +6 s/day)
- ~46 hour power reserve
- Water Resistance: 100m / 10 bar
Rolex Explorer II Price
I purchased my Rolex 16570 Polar in the fall of 2017. At the time, steel Rolex sports models were in the early stages of the price explosion that has evolved in the last few years. The craze had not yet spread to the Explorer II models, so I was lucky to snag one at a great price.
- Original Retail Price: $6300
- Pre-Owned Price: $5,000 to $7,800 (As of April 2019)
Similar Models Current Prices
- Rolex Explorer II Reference 216570, in 42mm (See Rolex Official Product Page)
- Sought-After Vintage and Other Discontinued Explorer II Models (See Chrono24 Active Listings)
Owner’s On The Wrist Review
Having now owned the Rolex Polar Explorer II for nearly two years, the following section of this review will cover my experiences of wearing it in detail.
The case is 40 mm in stainless steel and possesses a satin finish on top of the lugs, while the case flanks and crown guards are polished.
Unlike the “Super Case” seen in Rolex’s modern line, this 16570 sports the older-style case which is significantly slimmer with thinner lugs and smaller crown guards. Furthermore, the overall case profile is sleek in comparison to its bulkier younger siblings.
You can judge this for yourself by comparing Paul Anthony’s review of the contemporary GMT-Master II “Batman”.
Atop the case sits the non-rotating GMT bezel presented in brushed stainless steel with a high-polish outer brim and recessed numerals accented in black lacquer. A trademark of the Explorer II line, this bezel further differentiates it from the GMT-Master II models.
For instance, both the former aluminum bezel or modern Cerachrom (ceramic) examples possess bi-directional rotating bezels with inserts.
This particular example from the late 90’s also has lug holes which make it almost too easy to maintain multiple straps on rotation. Similarly, there is a small detail to note at this point for those on the hunt for one of these. The bevel on the top edge of the lugs, where the brushed finish of the top of the lugs meets the high polish of the case flanks.
Unfortunately, this Explorer II has seen one too many refinishings so this bevel is no longer present. Nevertheless, it is something to look out for if you are in the market for a 16570 and want one as close to mint as possible.
The bracelet on this Explorer II is the Rolex 78790 Oyster bracelet – a 3-link stainless steel bracelet. Additionally, it features hollow center links finished in satin on the top/bottom and high polish on the sides, clearly maintaining the theme found throughout the case.
The bracelet links taper gently, starting at the hollow end-links (“HEL”) that attach to the case, down to the stamped steel clasp.
Overall, the bracelet on this 16570 is very fluid and comfortable, particularly on a well-worn example such as this one. It also possesses the signature ‘jangle’ of the pre-Super Case Rolex sports models; this is notoriously off-putting to some and loved by others.
Personally, I believe it even enhances the vintage feel the of the watch and has helped this Explorer II attain its “future classic” moniker (is it the future yet?)
The glossy white dial of this Explorer II has earned it the nickname “Polar”, and contentiously made it the most desirable variant in stark contrast to its black dial counterpart. It possesses black-oxidized indices and hands, printed minute graduations, and a date with cyclops at 3 o’clock, all of which contrast beautifully against the white background.
The red GMT hand at center also introduces an unexpected splash of color encountered nowhere else on this model. Furthermore, this is reminiscent of the orange hand seen in the highly sought-after Explorer II ref. 1655 (“Steve McQueen” – See result in Google).
Thanks to its decades-long production run, this dial has seen Rolex transition from Tritium to Super LumiNova luminous fills for its indices and hands.
With the passing of time and depending on exposure to sunlight, Tritium degrades and turns an orange-brown hue. However, this patina of the dial has become highly desired among collectors. As it ensures that no two examples are alike, it exponentially increasing the perceived scarcity of each individual watch.
I was not so lucky as to obtain one of these Tritium variants. Nevertheless, the Super LumiNova leaves little to be desired as far as lume shot material for your gallery. Even after passing the 20-year old mark, it’s a wonderful specimen.
Inside the case of this Explorer II beats the robust Rolex 3185 self-winding movement. Additionally, it offers a 46-hour power reserve and COSC-chronometer certification.
This movement also allows the wearer to easily and independently configure the hour hand. If you’re jumping time zones, all that is required is to unscrew and pull the crown out to its first position to change the hour forwards/backwards without disturbing the minutes and GMT (“home time”) hands.
Final Thoughts On The Rolex Explorer II 16570
Overall, the Explorer II Polar ticks a lot of boxes for those who dare to step outside of the glam of popular sports models offered by Rolex. In a world of Cerachrom bezels and Rolesor cases, the 16570’s unassuming looks and subdued details allow it to fly under the radar and onto the wrists of those who long for Rolex’s notorious quality and design without the stigma.
Unable to shed it’s uncanny ability to pair with any outfit, occasion, or adventure, the Explorer II will proficiently take over your wrist for months at a time. This is only further guaranteed if you allow yourself the opportunity to chase down your favorite variant among the wide range of condition + dial + age + accessory possibilities that are out there.
What do you think? Would you pick a 16570 as your first Rolex (as I did), or would you aim for staples like the Submariner, Datejust, or GMT-Master II? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to read more about watches? Check out some of our related guides below!
- Rolex GMT Master II Review
- Bespoke Unit Watch Brand Reviews
- Patek Philippe Brand Review & History
- Guide To Watch Bezels
- Bespoke Unit – Watch Homepage
"Albeit an often overlooked reference, the Explorer II 16570 "Polar" possesses many of the qualities that made the previous generation of Rolex so successful. It is sure to find a place in any enthusiast's collection."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★