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The Rolex Explorer II 16570: The Rolex Polar vs. the Black Dial

November 8, 2018

BY Paul Altieri


The Rolex Explorer II came to market in 1971 and was developed primarily for use in dark environments.  In fact, its ability to keep perfect time while working in the low-visibility settings has made the Explorer II a popular choice among scientists, spelunkers, and arctic adventurers.  One of the most successful references from this line was the ref. 16570, offered originally with only a black dial, then later with a white dial.  While each dial option functions the same, they couldn’t look more different.

Explorer II 16570

The watch is an incredible choice, the only thing is to decide on the dial.

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Explorer II 16570: The Classic Black Dial

The Explorer II ref. 16570 came to market in 1989 and offered a stainless steel finish paired with a striking black dial.  A luminous display provided an easy reading while the bezel offered 24-hour graduations for optimal timekeeping in any condition.  The bezel measured a robust 40mm and was accompanied by an Oysterlock clasp, a typical sports watch pairing.  A scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and calibre 3185 automatic movement were also new to the ref. 16570, adding to its appeal among collectors at the time.

But it’s the classic styling of the steel case and bracelet paired with the black dial that attracts so many Rolex enthusiasts.  The black dial’s ability to transcend time means that the ref. 16570 is just as relevant today as it was the day it came to market.  Similar in style to other successful professional series watches, such as the Submariner and GMT Master, the black dial Explorer II is sure to enjoy many more years of success.

Explorer II 16570

The white variation of the Explorer II 16570 is called the Polar.

Explorer II 16570: The White “Polar” Dial

Also dubbed the Rolex Polar, this cool variation of the Explorer ref. 16570 features a crisp white dial.  Per usual, luminous hour markers and hands accompany the dial.  However, the Rolex Polar introduces black surrounds for a highly visible reading.  Just like its black dial counterpart, the Rolex Polar also features a stunning 24-hour bezel, a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, a stainless steel 40mm Oyster case, and a three-link Oyster bracelet.

Explorer II 16570

Whether black or white, both options are fantastic.

Some collectors gravitate towards the white color of the Rolex Polar ref. 16570 over the black dial option, simply based on the fact that the white dial is unlike any other Rolex sports watch currently in their watch box.  The black surrounds add immense character while enhancing the visibility of the dial.  In short, this white dial Rolex Polar is an exceptional variation of the Explorer II ref. 16570.

We’ve already established that the black and white dial ref. 16570 function the same.  So when comparing the two dial options, it comes down to personal preference towards the overall aesthetics of the watch.  Either way, one thing’s for sure, you won’t regret adding this classic Rolex to your collection, no matter which dial variation you choose.

Explorer II 16570

Which one can you image on your wrist?




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