The Rolex Explorer II has a history stretching back to 1971, launched as a successor to the original Rolex Explorer; a watch synonymous with adventurers, sojourners, and, of course, explorers!
The Explorer II is presented in a 42mm stainless steel case, on an Oyster bracelet. It features large hands for excellent visibility. The hallmark of the Rolex Explorer II, however, is the highly visible, orange 24 hour hand. This Rolex is waterproof to 100 meters, and features the signature ‘Cyclops’ date magnification at the 3 o’ clock position.
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If you are looking for a Rolex Explorer II homage, or even a Rolex Explorer II alternative, this list aims to guide you through some of the best options available.
Best Rolex Explorer II Homages
Invicta 9400 Series (Date-Master GMT)
The Invicta 9400 Series offers an almost identical design to the Rolex Explorer II. It is available with black, white, and dark blue faces; it features a similar 24 hour hand, as well as the Rolex style ‘Mercedes’ hour hand. There is a Cyclops date magnifier at 3 o’clock, further hinting at this being a Rolex Explorer II homage piece.
The Invicta 9400 Series are powered by high quality Japanese quartz movements, and feature scratch resistant mineral crystal glass. The case is available in 39.5mm, and 42mm (the 42mm matching the dimensions of the Rolex). The Invicta sits on an Oyster style bracelet, and truly represents good value for money if you’re looking for the Explorer II style. The standard models offer 100m water resistance, however should you require more, opt for the ‘Pro Diver’ version, which offers 300m.
Seiko Sportura Kinetic GMT Series
Seiko has paired their excellent Kinetic movement into this sublime Rolex Explorer II alternative, using movement to charge a battery for incredible longevity. The Seiko Sportura GMT features a GMT hand, highlighted in orange, as it is on the Rolex, although the hand style is different. The Seiko is available with either black, or white faces, it features a Hardlex crystal for scratch resistance, and has a date window at the 3 o’ clock position, however it does not feature any magnification.
The Seiko GMT series, just like the Explorer II, is water resistant to 100m, and is presented in stainless steel The case is large, measuring in at 44mm. The Seiko features a unique bracelet style, which helps in creating its own identity.
Timex 3 GMT
The Timex 3 GMT is a very affordable Rolex Explorer II alternative. It is significantly larger that the Rolex, measuring in at a huge 47mm, making it perfect for those whom like larger watches or have larger wrists. The Timex 3 GMT is so named for its dial design, which allows for tracking of up to 3 time zones without adjusting the watch.
The Timex also differs from the Rolex in that it is presented on a brown leather band, vs. the stainless steel of the Explorer II. The GMT3 utilizes a quartz movement and, like the Rolex, is water resistant to 100 meters. The crown sits to the right of the date window at 3 o’ clock, and directly above you’ll find the button to activate the ‘Indiglo Nightlight’ for great visibility in dark conditions.
Stuhrling Leisure Esprit GMT
The Stuhrling Leisure Esprit GMT features a similar enough look that fits in to the Rolex Explorer II homage category. The case shape is very similar to the Rolex, however it does not feature any GMT markings on the bezel, instead they are printed on the outer edge of the dial. The dial itself is presented in an attractive metallic blue, with large Arabic numerals at the 12 and 6 positions and a date window at 3 o’ clock.
The case is sized identically to the Rolex at 42mm, and it features a stainless steel bracelet, clearly inspired by the classic Oyster style. This Stuhrling, Rolex Explorer II homage, like the watch it takes so many cues from, is also water resistant to 100 meters, and features a distinctive, red GMT hand.
Best Rolex Explorer II Alternatives
Longines have a rich heritage of watchmaking, evidenced by the fact that their logo is the oldest trademark in the world! The Longines Admiral is a Rolex Explorer II alternative with similar features, but retains a look all of its own. The black dial immediately stands out, with heavily stylized Arabic numerals at the even numbers, rectangles at the odd number positions, and a date window at 3 o’ clock.
The 42mm case is high quality stainless steel, and unlike the Rolex, it features a ceramic bezel, although it remains similar in that it is marked with a 24 hour scale. Also setting this watch apart are the black, ceramic center links on the bracelet. The Longines, like the Rolex, is water resistant to 100 meters and features an automatic, Swiss movement. This Longines features a large, red 24 hour hand, similar to the Explorer II.
Orient Star Seeker Automatic GMT
The Orient Star Seeker is no imitation! With a unique look all of it’s own, this Orient timepiece is not so much a Rolex Explorer II homage, as it is an alternative. The Star Seeker does not resemble the Rolex as closely as the other examples in this list, yet shares a number of similar functions; it features 24 hour markings around the white dial, unlike the Rolex which incorporates these markings on the bezel. The 24 hour function on the Orient also utilizes a red hand tipped by an arrow head.
The Orient Star Seeker is powered by a high quality, automatic Japanese movement, which unlike the Rolex, is visible through the clear caseback. Like the Rolex, it features a scratch resistant sapphire crystal, however on the Orient there is no magnification for the date window. The case is similarly sized to the Rolex at 41.5mm (vs. 42mm on the Explorer II), and both the case and bracelet are stainless steel.
Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT is the premier Rolex Explorer II alternative on this list. The Omega brand is big enough to stand shoulder to shoulder with Rolex, and this watch proves that. The Planet Ocean GMT is presented with a dark blue face, and ceramic bezel insert, marked with GMT hours; although unlike the Rolex, the bezel features unidirectional rotation. There is an unmagnified date window at 3 o’ clock. The Omega boasts a huge 600 meter water resistance rating, whilst the Rolex is limited to 100 meters.
The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT features sapphire crystals on both the front and the back of the watch, exposing the incredible Omega Coaxial automatic, Swiss movement, made in house and exclusive to Omega. The Omega is a little larger than the Rolex at 43.5mm, and comes in brushed stainless steel, on a Seamaster bracelet for a timeless look.
Last Updated on November 11, 2021 by The Upgreater