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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).