Monochrome Watches
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Rolex Predictions 2021 – What Could be the New Rolex Explorer II

A long-awaited update of the Crown's adventure-inspired watch.

| By Brice Goulard | 5 min read |
Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer II black ceramic bezel 2021

The year 2020 was special (to say the least) and, with the cancellation of Baselworld, Rolex had to introduce its new models – including the new Submariner 41mm – later in September. This year, which will see Rolex participating in Watches & Wonders for the first time, the normal rhythm of launches will be back, meaning that we’ll see a new collection in April 2021. And this also means for us, at MONOCHROME, that we’ve had to go back to the drawing board for what has become a classic instalment: the predictions. Following what we presented last year, we’ll start our Rolex Predictions 2021 with what we think will be the highlight of the year, a brand new Rolex Explorer II collection, updated with new mechanics and a brushed black ceramic bezel. 

Please note that this article is a figment of our imagination. These are just predictions. Nothing is official. It is based on our own expectations and analysis.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer II black ceramic bezel 2021

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Guessing what Rolex will launch has become a ritual for us and we enjoy doing these predictions as much as we imagine you like discovering them. However, we also like to take this rather seriously and we put quite a lot of effort into researching what could potentially be launched by the crown. Seeing the latest introductions from Rolex, it isn’t always easy and, indeed, the brand can sometimes be unpredictable… or highly traditional. For instance, last year’s Submariner collection was long expected and the result was certainly very conservative. So, what have we imagined for these Rolex Predictions 2021? Well, first of all, we won’t release them all at once but we’ll gradually show you during the coming week several models that could be presented this year. And we start today with a major one: a new Explorer II.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer II black ceramic bezel 2021

So, the big question: why a new Rolex Explorer II? The reason is pretty simple and two things can explain why we, at MONOCHROME, think 2021 will be the year of the Explorer. First of all, the original Rolex Explorer II, presented under the reference 1655, was introduced in 1971. This year, the model will celebrate its 50th anniversary and we know that Rolex, from time to time, likes to celebrate these jubilees and anniversaries to refresh a model.

The second reason is more strategic. Looking at the whole range of Rolex sports watches, you can see that most of them have been recently updated – Daytona in 2016, Sea-Dweller, Sky-Dweller and Yacht-Master II in 2017, GMT-Master II and DeepSea in 2018, Yacht-Master and GMT-Master II (again) in 2019, Submariner in 2020. This basically leaves two collections that haven’t been upgraded yet with the 32xx movements: the Milgauss and the Explorer (I and II). And this is also reflected in sales and desirability of these models, which are known to be less sought-after than most other sports watches at Rolex.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer II black ceramic bezel 2021

As such, we think it’s about time for the brand to breathe some fresh air into the Explorer collection, starting with the Explorer II. What there can be doubt about concerning this potential update will be the integration of a new movement. The current Explorer II 216570 features a GMT function and is powered by the Calibre 3187, an update of the Calibre 3186 found in the older GMT-Master II (mostly with a larger diameter, due to the different date position). In the same vein, this new Explorer II could be equipped with an update of the Calibre 3285 found in the latest generation GMT-Master II models. Once again, it would be slightly larger and could be named Calibre 3287. It will be equipped with the new Chronergy escapement and an extended power reserve of about 70 hours. This update will be indicated on the dial with the new “Swiss Made” logo with a central coronet.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer II black ceramic bezel 2021

But what about the design of the watch? For our Rolex Predictions 2021, we’ve imagined a relatively soft visual update. As such, the case would retain the current 42mm diameter, which separates this watch from the rest of the 40/41mm watches and adds an extra instrument feeling. The dial, still available in black or white, would also retain the same layout with bold hands and markers and, of course, the iconic orange dual-time hand. Rolex has proven to be quite shy regarding dials recently, with only minimal updates on the new Submariner or GMT-Master II. Also, the entirely brushed finishing of the case and bracelet would be retained.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer II black ceramic bezel 2021

What could be updated on this 2021 Rolex Explorer II is the bezel. Being the 50th anniversary of the model, we’d like the brand to bring back the layout of the Ref. 1655, with thinner engravings. This means even time zones with numerals and odd time zones indicated by thin lines. But the main evolution would concern the material, as this watch could come with a non-rotating black ceramic bezel. Yet, because the radially brushed surface of the bezel has been part of this model since 1971, it makes sense to offer brushed and not polished ceramic – the latter would make this model too close to a GMT-Master II, and too luxurious too.

Rolex Predictions 2021 - Rolex New models 2021 - Rolex Explorer II black ceramic bezel 2021

So, what do you think of this possible 2021 Rolex Explorer II? Share your feelings in the comment section. And stay tuned tomorrow as we’ll bring more predictions!

Note: this article is based on our own Photoshop mock-ups, nothing has been provided officially from Rolex. These are predictions, based on our imagination and expectations. All images are under license of MONOCHROME and should not be used without agreement or copyright (©Monochrome-Watches, 2021).

27 responses

  1. Love the mock ups! I’d go for the polar dial. I was born in 1971, so will celebrating my 50th birthday this May. I would love to mark the occasion with a new Explorer II, but something tells me I don’t stand a chance of getting one at a UK AD 😔

  2. In the rolex explorer magazine (forget the issue number) it talks about using the Explorer 2 in cave exploring. It is interesting because in the magazine I recall it saying that a steel bezel is important because the watch needs to be able to stand a knock on rock or a hard surface. Given this wouldn’t it be bizarre if they switched to ceramic?

  3. No new bezel, too radical. Maybe the new movement.

    I’m going to guess that the Milgauss gets a new dial, and improved antimagnetism.

    But in reality, probably nothing as exciting will happen. And that’s why we love ’em.

  4. And let’s have rolex roll out their new models with their trustworthy ADs, like C.D.Peacock in Chicago, and Geary’s in Los Angeles. You know, where display and availability can be assured without subterfuge going on. In case you didn’t get it, that’s sarcasm.

  5. Please please please don’t drop the steel bezel. It’s part of the appeal. We don’t need more ceramic bezels right now

  6. The Explorer II is my favorite sport watch made by Rolex. It has not the desirability it deserves

  7. Please Rolex, Nooooo!!

    Upgrade the movement, play about with the case size or dial colours but do not do a black Ceramic bezel, it’s hideous. In fact don’t alter the watch other than the movement.

  8. Nooooooo!!!!!!!!! Don’t, don’t, don’t!!!!

    I hope they don’t change the bezel… the explorer are the last real tool watches from Rolex… adding a ceramic bezel makes no sense… IMHO 😉

  9. Good thing I have the polar now since the new one if it shows up will not be available in stores (because why would it right , when they can double their dough through the back door, can’t say I blame them tbh)…
    Anyhow back to 40 would be good or 41 maybe a smaller dial there is a lot of empty space on the current model but no ceramic …

  10. Rolex would copy the new Sinn 105 UTC, which copied the Explorer II 216570 😀

    I’m in the group that prefers the SS bezel.

    Would rather see a special anniversary green colored GMT hand & updated movement with 70hr power reserve.

  11. I would back up on the comments keeping the steel bezel.
    Will Monochrome also be predicting any possible discontinued models?
    Possibly the controversial Air King as Rolex are no longer affiliated to Bloodhound SSC jet car that the dial was created for?

  12. Ok seems most people hate the proposed ceramic bezel. I’m not one of them. I loved it when they updated the Daytona and I would love this, heck I’d buy it (cheaper than a GMT Master but better looking and without the stupid rotating bezel without an inner 24h track)

  13. Please don’t replace the steel bezel. That’s the coolest part of the watch.

  14. Remain the steel bezel, it can be like paint in a black color, but not a ceramic boring bezel!!! It has his origins to be a tool watch in the darkest places of earth and the highest mountain tops etc ! Keep the legacy of the explorer 🙏 Green gmt arrow and explorer in Rolex green as a contribution to 50th anniversary should be splendid 👌👌👌
    I have the current model and I’m such a fan, if I have the possibility I will buy the new one as well even it stay the same but with the new movement ^^ (polar or panda 🐼) who knows 🤭😅 very curious

  15. The ceramic bezel is an obvious improvement but in my opinion it won’t be black…. I think it will be a steel grey colour ceramic bezel. Like the tone BLNR shows in some light.

  16. Aware I may be swimming against the stream here, I actually find the proposed new polar with brushed ceramic bezel VERY handsome. It reminds me of the white Daytona. Understanding ceramic is more brittle and might be expensive to repair if actually used in caves… How many of us nowadays are ACTUALLY going to 300m below water or beyond, banging it around heavy equipment and machinery, or spelunking with a USD10K watch? It’s jewellery with historical flair! Monochrome, you have my vote. Keeping my fingers crossed for your prediction to materialise!

  17. Why not upgrade the crown to a triplock system, like the GMT? In my opinion it would suit the character of the watch, even if it won’t affect the depth rating (since that depends on the thickness/material of the case back too).

  18. Wearing my polar Explorer II right now and looking at it thinking about a black bezel makes me sad. No need to change for the sake of change.

  19. Hahaha, what a great craic!! All so furious about black bezels and traditional steel – and what did the Rolex guys come up with? The ‘pimp edition’ – Oyster steel with gold!! Brilliant!

    Picture it: a white suit, a giant white hat, fur coat, tons of gold chains over an open collar: Edmund trying to lure a sexy young female Yeti going on the game for him.

    A golden Explorer, what a great ‘tool watch’ it has become?!!

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