There are many trends that need to die in vintage watches. Socially-driven hypebeasting, frankenwatching, thoughtless dial refinishing, and default factory service case polishing to name a few. However, my day-to-day life touches on one unfortunate trend more frequently than most: what I call hyper-niche collecting. Let me explain; there are people who will not purchase this Explorer II because it does not have enough adjectives associated with it. It is not a rail dial, swiss-only, chicchi di mais, panna, spider, Tiffany, or any other collectorism. It is just a damn good example of a five digit E2. I know my site does not help this trend, but we inhabit a world where retailers are increasing turning to obscure adjectives (in a bid for rarity) as compensation for poor condition. This is a topical watch worth featuring for its fair ask, strong condition, and potent antidote to all the above.
Strangely, I’ve not written yet about the standard 16570. I’ve covered its grandad, sibling, and child, but not the five digit base itself. Let’s right that wrong. The 16550 and 16570 were the red-handed references sandwiched between the two orange-handed references. It is not a flamboyant watch, bucking the trend of many of its contemporary counterparts. Perhaps because of this, five digit E2s endured a period of relative unpopularity in the 1990s and early 2000s where they traded hands for pennies. Many were abused in this period. This is an example from the latter part of production and has likely been cherished for most of its life.
The 16570 was produced with two movements over the course of its life, the 3185 and latter 3186. This 40mm case houses a calibre 3186, the same as 2005’s GMT-Master II. The 3186 is a relatively rare calibre which fixed the 3185’s hour hand wobble, but was replaced with the next generation reference relatively quickly. It featured an independently jumping hour hand, 24 hour hand, hacking seconds, and quick-set date. This is a watch as world-reach as a GMTII, but with the discretion a pandemic might dictate. Its dial was available in white and black, both with tritium and Rolex-name-brand luminova at different points. I’ve said this before, but the five digit E2 is a serious contender for a capably perfect one watch collection.
This example is as basic but beautiful as they come. The dial’s lacquer is solid, the plots snow white. Its bezel has no knocks and the case is sharp. It comes with service papers and box. The watch is priced fairly in my view and comes from a well-regarded London retailer.
Find this 16570 here from Watches London for 7250 GBP.