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|The Rolex Explorer II [ref. 1655] officially known as the 'Steve McQueen Rolex'|
|The first Rolex Explorer was created in 1953, and the practical theme behind its name and design was "exploration".
Designed with the 1953 ascent of Mount Everest in mind, the watch focused on the needs of mountaineers and other
similar explorative pioneers. It possessed an extremely robust case, a very clear and easy to read dial, and was
able to withstand both extremely high and low temperatures.|
The Rolex Explorer II [ref. 1655] was released in 1971, and was designed especially for cave explorers. One of it's most distinctive features was a secondary large orange 24 hour hand. This secondary 24 hour hand was intended to help the explorer, who may have lost his sense of time in the constant darkness, to tell if the main hour hand was representing AM or PM. Production of the Explorer II [ref. 1655] was discontinued in 1985, and the watch is now extremely valuable and highly collectable. (Note: Earliest models had a straight second hand and an orange 24 hour hand, wheras all 1974 models onward incorporated a luminous circle on the second hand, and shortly after the introduction of the luminous circle the 24 hour hand's color was changed from orange to red).
Interestingly, in real life, Steve McQueen never really wore the Explorer II [ref. 1655], but rather the Rolex Submariner [ref. 5512], which nonetheless featured a very similar design to the Explorer II [ref. 1655]. The Submariner [ref. 5512], however, was only available exclusively in the UK (produced from 1959 through 1978). It seems reasonable to assume that this McQueen connection (discovered through media photos etc) was what inspired the naming of the later internationally released Explorer II [ref. 1655] as the 'Steve McQueen Rolex.'