1971 Rolex Explorer II (Ref. 1655) Mk. I Dial "Straight Hand"

$ 33,500

The Rolex Explorer II was first introduced in 1971 as the ref. 1655, and was a professional's tool watch with a very niche application. The Explorer II ref. 1655 and its famous orange 24hr hand works in conjunction with the fixed 24hr bezel to be used as a day/night indicator. This was an extremely necessary application for professionals working in extremely low light environments or environments without consecutive 24 hours of sunlight, where distinguishing the difference between AM/PM would be impossible without the use of an external tool.

Sometimes the Rolex Explorer ref. 1655 is referred to as the Steve McQueen Explorer. But the truth is that this a total myth as Steve never wore the model or owned one. Steve personally owned a Rolex ref. 5512 which he wore on his right wrist as well as a Heuer Monaco, but never did he wear the Explorer ref 1655. Interestingly though, Jean-Claude Killy, a former Rolex Ambassador, and gold medalist skier was often seen sporting a Rolex ref. 1655 Explorer II, he is also more notably known for wearing a Rolex ref. 6036 Dato-Compax.

1971 Rolex Explorer II (Ref. 1655) Mk. I Dial "Straight Hand" 

The first series of the Explorer II ref. 1655, also known as the "Freccione" (which is Italian for Arrow), bears a straight white second's hand along with the first version of the dial created, or the Mk I dial. These early "straight-hand" models are by far the most collectible within this reference as this specific configuration saw the shortest production window among the many variations and years of production the ref. 1655 Explorer II saw. However, it's not only the sheer rarity of the model that drives the collectibility of the "Straight Hand" ref. 1655, but the unique and clean aesthetic difference the non-lumed second's hand provides.  

Stock # RLXEXP21655
Brand Rolex
Style Explorer II
Model 1655
Serial 29XXXXX
Size Men's
Material Stainless Steel
Dial Matte Black Mk. I "Frog Foot"
Millimeters 40



The exceptionally well-preserved case retains thick chamfers and strong finishing throughout, showing no evidence of being previously polished, though the case appears to show a "sleeve polished" through wear over time as the original dimensions, finishing, and geometry remain fully intact with honest signs of use throughout. The original Mk II bezel appears to remain unpolished with crisp finishing throughout, the bezel bezel exhibits some light enamel loss in the numerals which is most notably in the "6" and "4". The watch comes supplied on a "USA Made" Rolex Oyster-Rivet bracelet that retains 11 links that show minimal stretch and will fit up to a 7 1/2-inch wrist.


The original Mk I matte black dial is exceptionally clean and in virtually flawless condition, showing no age or damage. The tritium lume plots have achieved a charming creamy patina and display no real degradation when inspected under UV light. The original tritium hands match the dial perfectly and show no degradation under UV light inspection. The original metallic date wheel is original with "open" 6's and 9's.


None. The watch is keeping time, but the service history is unknown. A movement service can be provided upon request.